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Behind-the-Wheel

Clear your windshield first

Clear your frosty windows before driving

Depending on where you are reading this, the autumn frosts are either already here, or will be here shortly.

This means it is now time to be aware of the lazy drivers who can't or won't scrape their windows and pulls onto the highway before the defrosters have had a chance to clear more than a small patch low on the windshield.

We all hate to wait (and our driving style shows it, but that's another set of columns) for the frost to clear and the fog to lift even though our safety depends on it.

The Law

The Motor Vehicle Act requires that a driver must not move the vehicle unless the driver's view to the front and sides of the vehicle is unobstructed.

A defensive driver requires an unobstructed view to the rear as well as the front and sides. They will not rely only on the outside rear view mirrors and will wait for rear windows to clear as well.

The ticketed amount for violations is $109 and there are three penalty points for a conviction.

Solutions

If you cannot park inside a garage overnight to avoid the frost and snow, placing a tarp or sheet of heavy plastic over the windshield can make the cleaning task that much quicker in the morning.

Using an electric interior warmer and a timer is another alternative that will reduce idling time and save fuel.

DIY

There are a number of DIY remedies that include spraying the windshield with vinegar and water before ice forms or using isopropyl alcohol and water to deice after the fact.

Research indicates that neither of these methods is really effective.

What does work is a propylene glycol solution, the same ingredient that is found in RV water-system antifreeze. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a link to commercial automotive products based on this ingredient.

The most reliable solution still appears to be a good scraper and brush applied with sufficient "elbow grease."

Clear vision is Important

Remember, 85% of the information we require to drive safely comes through our eyes.

That information has to pass through the glass to reach us and cannot do so unless your vehicle's windows are clean and clear.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/clear-your-frosty-windows-driving



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Info you need after a crash

QUESTION: Are we required to carry insurance papers within the car at all times? I'm helping a friend ask this as she was involved in a slight accident and the other party didn't have the insurance papers with her.

This short question actually has a two-part answer.

The first deals with the documents drivers are required to carry, and the second concerns the information they are required to produce when they are involved in a collision on a highway.

The drivers of all vehicles in B.C. must carry three documents with them and produce them on demand of the police.

They are:

  • Driver's licence
  • Vehicle licence
  • Vehicle insurance document.

As you will see, this can be especially important if you are not the vehicle's owner and are involved in a collision.

If another driver involved or a witness to the crash requests it, you must produce in writing the following particulars:

  • Your name and address, the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle
  • The licence number of the vehicle
  • Particulars of the motor vehicle liability insurance card or financial responsibility card for that vehicle or such of that information as is requested.

If you do not have these documents with you and the information is demanded, you may have difficulty supplying it. As you would expect, failing to supply the requested information is an offence.

Reluctance or inability on the part of the other driver to supply this information should immediately raise a red flag.

It could be an indication of an unlicensed or prohibited driver, improper vehicle license, expired insurance or a stolen vehicle. In order to protect yourself, it's time to start gathering information and recording it.

If the other driver will not co-operate, don't press the issue to the point that they become a threat.

Notify the police and use your cellphone to take pictures or write information down with a pen and paper. At the very least, record a description of the driver, their vehicle (including licence plate number) and any passengers that were inside.

You can never have too much information and this situation tells you that future difficulty is likely.

Time invested in recording as much as possible now may pay you back many times over in the future. Consider carrying a checklist in your glove box to help you cover all the bases.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/producing-information-after-collision



If you kill it, report it

About 5,762 wildlife collisions happen every year in B.C.

That's an 11-year average ending in 2017, according to the Wildlife Accident Reporting System, as reported by B.C.'s road maintenance contractors.

I suspect that this number is not the entire picture as some animals are able to struggle away from the collision scene and die unnoticed.

One estimate places this number at 12,000 annually.

The human cost is high as well. An average of four people die annually in crashes involving animals on B.C. highways.

Reported in 2019, ICBC says it sees about $41 million in claim costs annually in relation to motor-vehicle collisions involving animals.

November and May share the distinction of being the most likely month for you to run into wildlife on B.C.'s roads, literally.

Eighty per cent of wildlife collisions in this province involve deer and occur between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. However, moose, elk, bear and sheep are involved as well.

Deer whistles are useless. The animals have a narrower range of hearing than humans do, so if you can't hear it, they can't either.

Studies show that they have little or no impact on roadside animals and researchers suspect that if they did the startled animal has as much chance of moving onto the highway as they do away from it.

The BCSPCA advises that you should contact their cruelty hotline at 1-855-622-7722 or local animal control so that someone may be dispatched to assist the animal.

While the BCSPCA does not provide animal control services in all communities, their call centre operators have access to animal control agency numbers throughout B.C. and may be able to provide some assistance over the telephone.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure advises that the actions which can, and ideally should, be taken are set out in the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program website.

If you collide with and kill a wild or domestic animal, you can report this to DriveBC online as a non-emergency problem. They will notify the road maintenance contractor of the location and steps will be taken to remove the carcass on your behalf.

The Ministry of the Environment advises that it is a legal requirement to notify them of the killing or wounding of most larger wildlife.

The report may be made through the Conservation Officer Service's Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277.

Finally, the police are available at all times and may be available to assist you, particularly where the animal is injured and needs to be destroyed.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/collision-animal-what-do



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Pedestrians with a motor

Motorized wheelchair users are pedestrians

Technology is a wonderful thing. Those of us whose mobility is restricted have had their capabilities enhanced through the use of motorized wheelchairs.

A number of readers have observed that the operators of these scooters seem to drive them wherever they please and are concerned for safety. What rules do their operators have to follow?

This is a good question, as a motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle not run on rails, that is designed to be self propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires.

A motorized wheelchair fits this definition and can be considered as a motor vehicle for the purposes of the Act.

However, this does not mean that all wheelchair users have to worry about drivers licences and such. In section 2 of the Act, it states that the Motor Vehicle Act and it's Regulations shall not apply to the driving or operation of a mechanically propelled invalid's chair that is used only for the purposes for which it is designed.

Only an able-bodied user would have to comply with the usual motor-vehicle rules.

A person in any type of wheelchair is considered to be a pedestrian and must follow pedestrian rules.

These machines are capable of moving their occupant at significant speeds, often more than twice the walking pace of an adult. Given their size and weight, they are dangerous when misused or used carelessly.

There are no rules about what side of the sidewalk to use, how fast to go or penalties for misbehaviour except perhaps assault or criminal negligence under the Criminal Code.

With that in mind, in 2013 the Union of BC Municipalities indicated to the province that it would support regulating the use of motorized mobility aids (including motorized wheelchairs and scooters), as well as the licensing of these aids and their operators.

The provincial government should implement these provisions under the Motor Vehicle Act.

The province responded that it intended to research best practices in other jurisdictions and develop a framework for the safe operation of motorized scooters and personal mobility devices. 

The Motor Vehicle Act would be reviewed to determine whether amendments are required to support safe operation of motorized scooter and personal mobility devices.

To date, there has been no indication of progress on the issue.

The provincial coroner also recommended scooter regulation in 2008 after several scooter-riding seniors died in crashes with vehicles. There have been 30 deaths recorded from 2008-18 in B.C.

An informal poll on the Global News web site recorded 236 votes for and 33 votes against the idea this evening. Ultimately, your answer to this question is probably determined by whether you see a person with a mobility aid or a driver in a motor vehicle.

Many people making this column request have also pointed out that it is wise to use a flag to increase the height and visibility of the wheelchair and its operator.

Without the flag it is difficult to see the person on the wheelchair in parking lots and behind cars parked beside sidewalks.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/pedestrians/motorized-wheelchair-users-are-pedestrians



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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