Tim Schewe – | Story: 340450

I was driving home after shift last week listening to the radio and enjoying the sunshine. The traffic report was being broadcast and in it was a cellphone call from a woman who had been stopped in the lineup for the highway construction on Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Parksville. She wondered if anyone knew what was going on.

This call to the traffic report surprised me. The woman had passed a flashing message board and a number of black and orange signs, some with flapping red flags, advising her what was happening before she ever arrived at the lineup. How could she have missed seeing these signs?

In our connected world, DriveBC shows highway events on its website so you know before you go what you may encounter on your trip. The information is also available via an app for your smart device as well.

The Motor Vehicle Act requires that when work is being carried out on a highway signs be posted indicating that this is happening. In addition to that, signs must also be posted showing a construction speed limit or restricting the manner in which vehicles are to proceed through the area. These signs must then be removed as soon as the reason for them no longer exists.

If there is a flagger or traffic control person in the construction zone, a driver must drive in the manner directed by them.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes a traffic control manual to guide the installation of traffic control devices and how flag persons should conduct traffic in the work zone.

Workers in construction zones were often very happy when I parked my marked police car in their contruction zone and dealt with drivers who did not obey the signs or directions given to them. Each year B.C. sees about 1 death, 6 serious injuries and 22 time loss claims made by these people due to collisions. This is not acceptable!

For safety’s sake, please slow down in Cone Zones. They are there to protect both workers and drivers. The cost to you is only a few seconds, and unless you are an emergency vehicle responding to a crisis, losing those few seconds to be safe is a small price to pay.

PS: Don’t forget the Slow Down, Move Over rule. It applies in construction zones too.

Remember that just because the workers have gone home for the day, the hazards could still be there. This is why construction zone signs are left in place when the work is expected to last for more than part of a day. Speed signs still apply even if workers are not present.

This column is also posted on DriveSmartBC’s website.

Tim Schewe – Jul 13, 2021 / 10:00 am | Story: 339781

British Columbia’s view of what consists of acceptable methods of transportation on our roads had changed considerably since I started policing in the 1980’s. Back then, cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and feet were pretty much all that was allowed. Devices like rollerblades, skateboards, motorized bicycles and scooters were either strictly controlled or forbidden completely.

This is all changing today with the implementation of the Active Transportation Design Guide and an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act to recognize “regulated motorized personal mobility devices (RMPMD).” These devices may be subject to trial in three-year pilot projects conducted by local governments around the province.

If the current confusion surrounding scooters is any indication, we are in for interesting times.

Even the word scooter is not used clearly. Is it a motorcycle, Limited Speed Motorcycle (LSM) or a motorized bicycle? The category that it fits into is important to define as different rules apply.

All of these vehicles require that the rider be at least 16 years of age to ride them on the road and both the motorcycle and LSM require the driver to have a driver’s licence of the proper class.

Without some thought to restriction, LSMs can be used anywhere a regular motorcycle can. Riders, rightly so, fear drivers on roads with posted speeds above 60 km/h. The most common solution is to ride on the shoulder. The trouble is, riding on the shoulder is illegal.

Another solution is to ride an LSM in the bicycle lanes, further away from motor vehicle traffic. These are designated use lanes, and an LSM is not a cycle.

One of the first things some motorized bicycle users do is remove the pedals. Now the motorized bicycle becomes a motorcycle and needs a licence plate and insurance.

ICBC will not issue licence or insurance to some of these vehicles and that has managed to confuse the courts.

Depending on how these machines are operated, they are capable of causing significant injury to pedestrians. Should they be insured even if they cannot be licensed?

Use of both LSMs and motorized cycles require the rider to wear a helmet. (This topic was part of the Hansard discussion of RMPMDs.)

Hopefully these pilot projects are given serious thought before they are implemented. The rules must be clear, consistent and make sense to users before we start seeing Segways, hoverboards, electric kick scooters and other more exotic devices used on the roads, bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

Everyone needs to know what the rules are before they start to share and enforcement needs to be done when they don’t obey.

The article also appears on DriveSafeBC.

Tim Schewe – Jul 6, 2021 / 11:00 am | Story: 338973

Probably one of the most dangerous things that we do as drivers is to make a left turn. As we sit in traffic waiting for a large enough gap between oncoming vehicles we risk being hit from behind, the most common collision type on our roads. When we do turn, we present the sides of our vehicle to other traffic which is the most vulnerable position to be in.

Left turns also place a heavy cognitive demand on the driver. There are many potential conflicts to identify and resolve in order to turn left safely. Common errors include failing to signal properly, misjudging the speed of oncoming traffic, turning without a complete sight picture and incorrectly estimating the time it will take to complete the turn.

With this in mind, lets take a look at whether you can turn left in the middle of the block legally and why you might choose not to even when the turn is legal.

Many drivers have an incomplete idea of what the lines on the road really mean and what the law requires. The basic intent is that regardless of what kind of yellow line is painted on the highway, drivers are required to stay to the right of it.

Even a single broken yellow line means stay to the right, except when you are safely overtaking another vehicle on the left.

I can hear the muttering starting now. What? That’s not right! It is correct, but it is not complete. Once we are past the basic intent there are special circumstances where a driver is allowed to cross yellow lines if the situation permits it.

The double solid yellow line is even more strict. A driver must keep to the right of it at all times, with one exception, and that is when you are entering or leaving the highway. Even then you must do so safely and not unreasonably interfere with other traffic.

What is unreasonable interference? That’s a good question, and one where there is no simple answer. Each situation must be looked at individually depending on the circumstances.

The ICBC manual Learn to Drive Smart cautions us on page 52 that most drivers expect others to turn left at intersections. When traffic is heavy this is good advice. Instead of turning left mid block, turn left at the next intersection and then make right turns to arrive at your destination instead. Trading a small inconvenience for safety might be one of the best deals you could make.

If you are one of few vehicles on the road and the vehicle behind must wait for a few seconds perhaps this isn’t unreasonable.

To sum up, it is not illegal to turn left over yellow lines in all cases, but there may be few opportunities to do so legally and safely.

This story is also published on DriveSmartBC.

Tim Schewe – Jun 29, 2021 / 6:00 am | Story: 338365

I’ve often thought to myself over the years that if I ever wanted to kill someone, the best way to do it would be to drive over them.

I would wait until I found them stepping into a crosswalk and make sure that I hit them while I was turning onto the street they were crossing. I would then screech to a halt, return and scream “Oh, no, I didn’t see them, I’m sorry!”

If I planned it just right, I might get away with a traffic ticket and have my insurer pay the bills.

Of course, I’m being facetious, but the thought runs through my mind whenever I watch or read a news story where a driving error results in a death and the offending driver is convicted of a Motor Vehicle Act offence because of it.

This week’s sentencing of Conrad Wetten by Judge K.L. Whonnock for the death of Shinder Kirk near Nanaimo in December 2018 is another example.

Testimony heard at the trial supported that Wetten was not impaired, was not distracted by a cellphone and was not speeding or driving recklessly in the moments leading up to the crash.

Mr. Wetten was fined $1,500 and will receive six penalty points. The judge declined to prohibit Mr. Wetten from driving because he needs his driver’s licence to work.

Mr. Wetten is also facing a civil suit for liability because of the collision. Depending on his collision history and coverage, it is possible that he will only pay the same amount that the rest of us contribute to ICBC for his error.

We will all share monetary the cost while family and friends share the additional emotional burden.

Most people hearing this news are likely to ask why hadn’t the driver been charged with homicide?

The Criminal Code of Canada says that homicide occurs when someone directly or indirectly, by any means, causes the death of a human being.

Homicide is not an offence unless it is culpable, meaning that the death is:

  • Caused by an unlawful act
  • Criminal negligence
  • Causing someone to kill themselves by threats, fear of violence or deception
  • Wilfully frightening them, in the case of a child or sick person.

Murder is culpable homicide where the person who causes the death of a human being means to cause his death or means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not.

However, murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the person who committed it did so in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation.

When I originally wrote this story back in 2009, I used an example of a trial where a driver struck another vehicle and then returned to the scene to deliberately run over a passenger who had exited the other vehicle.

The offending driver was culpable and charged with criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

The maximum penalty here is the same as it is for murder, life in prison. The main difference is the minimum sentence imposed by each of these offences.

The choice of which charges to prefer belongs to Crown counsel after looking at all the evidence in the context of current case law and having decided on whether there is a substantial possibility of conviction.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/viewpoint/when-drivers-kill