Ready for the unexpected?

A reader asks about an incident where a ladder had fallen off a truck travelling on the highway.

The driver behind the truck took evasive action that resulted in a collision. This question raises many important issues including hazard avoidance, duty at a collision and load securement.

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise. The actions available to you are usually either:

  • Drive over the object
  • Collide with it
  • Swerve around it.

If you have maintained two-to-four-seconds following distance and made sure to keep an open space beside you on multi-laned roadway, you will have given yourself time to think and react as well as the room to do it.

Always leave yourself an out.

The driver of this truck was indirectly involved in a collision on a highway and had duties that he must fulfil.

These duties included:

  • Stopping or immediately returning to the scene
  • Rendering assistance and providing details in writing concerning himself, his vehicle and insurance to other drivers involved, the police and any witness that demanded it.

Load securement rules in British Columbia include significant fines for those who do not obey.

These fines are $173 for most people, but increase to $288 for commercial and business vehicles and $598 for drivers who do not obey an order to remove a vehicle from the highway until the load is properly secured.

Most of us carry loads that are a collection of smaller articles of some sort. These are known as aggregate loads.

If the articles are not contained by the sides of the vehicle or tie downs, they must be covered in some manner to prevent them from bouncing, blowing or dropping from the vehicle.

A suitable tarp or net would be the answer here.

Larger articles may be secured with chains, ropes, belts or cables. The methods can be complex and the easiest way to learn about them is to download BC Booklet 2: Cargo Securement or obtain a paper copy from the nearest weigh scale.

You can also download the National Safety Code Standard 10 that the B.C. load security regulations are based on.

You might be thinking that all of this information is important to know if you are a commercial driver or use a pickup or trailer to carry your cargo.

Think again.

Cargo that you load inside a passenger vehicle is just as critical. Load shifts while driving can be distracting and may cause fatal injury to the occupants in a collision.

The owner's manual for our compact crossover SUV provides advice on cargo securement in the owner's manual.

There are tie down points for light items, warnings about securing items placed on top of folded seats and loading the cargo space at the rear higher than the seat back.

While the manual does devote instruction on how to determine maximum cargo weight, it does not advise about how much weight the rear seat back will stop from forcing it's way forward in a collision.

This is definitely something to consider rather that trusting to luck. Check with the dealer or manufacturer for more information.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/load-security

Are you a good driver?

Improving everything except drivers

I'm becoming paranoid when I drive.

I know how easy it is to make a mistake because even though I am paying attention and trying not to, I make them. Watching others while I'm driving impresses on me that I'm not alone.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide if it is a genuine error or simply a case of not being bothered to drive well, but I suspect that there is a lot of the latter taking place on our roads.

The insurance costs of collisions have become too high to bear, so our politicians have solved that problem for us by removing our ability to sue for damages in most cases.

Instead, ICBC will provide "enhanced accident benefits" and will be able to avoid the expense of trials.

There have been some reports of claims difficulties already, but it remains to be seen if they are simply the result of getting used to a new system or not.

I'm a cynic — ICBC is not there to represent your interests. Like any other insurance company, they simply want to settle your claim fairly for the least cost staying in compliance with the framework created by our government.

My local traffic enforcement unit has about half of its positions filled with effective on-road resources right now.

Ask the provincial government about available resources and they respond that they fund X resources across the province. Ask the police about traffic enforcement resources and they respond with ... nothing.

Despite the fact that you are most likely to suffer financial loss, injury or death through the use of your automobile than all other criminal offences combined, police resource priorities are on what the public often told me was "real crime." As in, "Why aren't you fighting real crime instead of wasting my time with this traffic ticket?"

Some days, I marvel that automated enforcement in the form of intersection safety cameras has gotten the foothold it has in our municipalities.

Cameras apply monetary penalties to vehicle owners, but the driver is not held to account for violations.

Many of us do not like automated enforcement of any sort and are very vocal about it. This includes some of our politicians.

We've had strategies and visions of road safety over the years. These are good things, if they work.

We seem to be adept at explaining where we want to go, but rarely do I find a document that explains the path we've taken and what the outcomes were. Especially pointing out that improvements were actually due to the change we've made rather than being a general trend.

For the most part, we still seem to be stuck with the same old drivers. Remember ICBC's online refresher test that only 40% of participants passed?

Maybe that is why I see what I do when I drive.

We're resistant to ending our driving careers, too.

This week's case law article involves an older lady who is a pillar of the community that made a serious of dangerous actions that ended with a toddler being hit.

She wanted the five-year driving prohibition she received for driving without due care and attention reduced and a higher fine instead.

The appeal justice made an oblique reference to the fact that some older drivers chose to surrender their licence before things like this happen.

It might be inconvenient or even painful, but I think that we should be doing more to improve our driving than simply renewing our licence every five years.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/viewpoint/improving-everything-except-drivers

Cross at your own risk

I read the Victoria Times-Colonist on line each morning and a story about jaywalking caught my attention.

After reading the story, I was left with the feeling that the situation was poorly explained, and readers might decide that the police should have been doing more important things than enforcing pedestrian bylaws.

A spokesperson for the City of Victoria says that jaywalking is allowed in the area under discussion because of an exemption to the traffic bylaw used to promote a pedestrian friendly area.

Jaywalking was born from the continuing evolution of the motor vehicle and the streets that it ran on.

In the beginning when vehicle speeds were 16 km/h or slower, people simply walked across wherever they wished to.

As vehicle speeds increased, this became a dangerous thing to do if a pedestrian didn't exercise some caution. The power of shame was applied to people who had the audacity to cross anywhere other than at the intersection.

Jaywalking is something that everyone does and it isn't always a bad thing to do.

The two sections in the Motor Vehicle Act that regulate pedestrians not in a crosswalk only do so when the pedestrian has either failed to yield to vehicular traffic or stepped off the curb at a time when the driver could not yield to them even if they tried to.

Both these situations are dangerous, interrupt traffic flow and potentially result in injury or death. The adults being dealt with in this story for failing to yield that feel put upon definitely know better and have no room to complain.

Jaywalking may be prohibited on streets within municipal boundaries, but only if the municipality has created a bylaw to discourage it.

Mid-block crossings can be safer than crosswalks at intersections because drivers have fewer demands on their attention and are more likely to see and react to pedestrians.

Whether this extends to random crossing rather than a marked mid-block crossing depends on the level of risk that a pedestrian is willing to take.

In 2020, ICBC collision statistics report that 1,600 collisions injured 1,500 and killed (in 2019) 49 people in our province.

This is a significant decrease from previous years. About 40% of these collisions resulted from the pedestrian doing something that involved them in the collision rather than being the fault of the driver.

It's not reasonable to only deal with the drivers. Pedestrians must shoulder their share of the responsibility and perhaps need a refresher on how to cross the road safely.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/pedestrians/jaywalking-cross-your-own-risk


Wisdom of the people

Crowdsourcing neighbourhood road safety projects

One definition of crowdsourcing is where an organization obtains ideas from a large, relatively open and often rapidly evolving group of participants.

An example of how this can be applied to road safety is found in the Spring 2021 edition of Transportation Talk, a publication of the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Edmonton is asking its citizens to participate as part of its current Safe Mobility Strategy 2021-25.

During the course of my service in traffic enforcement, I was occasionally exposed to the wisdom that could be gained from the people who had connections to the roads that I was responsible for.

One of the best came from a resident who lived beside Naramata Road north of Penticton.

I was called to a single vehicle off road right crash on an icy corner. I parked my police vehicle in what I thought was a good spot to protect the scene and started to investigate.

The homeowner who lived next to the road came out and suggested I had move my police vehicle to a better spot as it was likely to be hit by the next vehicle that rounded the corner at an unsafe speed.
I'm glad I took it and moved my car.

Before I had concluded my investigation, another car had slid right through where I had parked; we were lucky no damage or injury occurred.

The homeowner explained that this happened almost every time the corner was slippery, but often did not result in damage. No damage means no crash report, something that police, ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure relied on to identify problems.

Repeat these circumstances often enough and eventually damage, injury or death will find a way to occur.

To take advantage of this accumulated wisdom, Edmonton has created Vision Zero Street Labs. These labs are billed as combining the expertise and power of Edmontonians and City of Edmonton staff to quickly and creatively address neighbourhood safety and liveability concerns.

The projects developed by the street labs are meant to be temporary with a duration worked out between the community project team and the city. If they are successful, the city will explore making the permanent.

Perhaps this would be a good example to show to your municipality if you are willing to form your own street lab group and solve a road safety problem in your neighbourhood.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/government/crowdsourcing-neighbourhood-road-safety-projects

More Behind the Wheel articles

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

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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