Welcome to On The Road, a feature written by police officers that focuses on awareness of provincial traffic laws and enforcement and how it affects our community from the police perspective.
We will examine a different traffic issue or law in each installment and explain in plain terms what the law is and how it is enforced.
Enforcement is only part of the equation, and really the last resort. Educating the public about the law and awareness of the issues is ultimately the goal of the police.
Every licensed driver in B.C. is obligated to know the rules of the road and the provisions of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act. Unfortunately, prior to the graduated licensing program, most drivers were never required to know the Motor Vehicle Act to get their license, so there is an inherent lack of knowledge among the majority of drivers we deal with.
In the ‘80s, most drivers in B.C. were given a 10-question, multiple choice test and a 15-minute driving test and that was enough to license them for life.
The Safe Driving Guide of the day pointed out the most common rules and offences, but even then, many new drivers were too excited and busy thinking about the freedom that driving would allow them, to really concentrate on remembering a bunch of rules and regulations.
The most common offences dealt with by police are also the most obvious, failing to stop, speeding, using a cellphone in any manner while driving, and drinking and driving lead the pack.
What many drivers fail to understand is that driving is a privilege, not a right, and with that privilege comes an obligation to know the laws and the responsibility to live by them.
You say goodbye, or I say hello
Remember when, if you had to make a call when you were out running errands, you had to find a pay phone and hope you had a quarter on you?
Wow, how old school is that? Well, the cellphone has changed all that, and with change comes an added responsibility and necessary awareness of how much we need to pay attention to our driving when trying to multi-task our busy lives.
The distracted driving laws are not just designed to enforce against cellphone use, but anything that takes attention away from driving. When you’re in control of a 4,000 pound weapon, that is critical.
Putting on makeup, reading a book or eating soup while driving are all good examples of stupid things I have actually seen drivers doing behind the wheel, but talking on the phone, texting or emailing are the most common forms of distracted driving these days.
You may feel that talking while driving is easy to do, but it takes your mind away from driving and your awareness of your surroundings.
Hands-free units are easily available and quite inexpensive, but still we see people holding phones while talking, and quite often trying to disguise it.
Texting takes carelessness to a whole new level. Now, not only is your mind occupied with talking instead of driving, your hands and eyes are engaged in a very distracting task.
So if you don’t have a hands-free speaker, get one. Otherwise, put away your 3G, 4G, 4S, 5G, Android, Smartphone, iPad or whatever and just drive.
Please say goodbye before you drive, otherwise we will say hello … with a ticket in hand.
Const. Rick Anthony is Community Liaison Officer with the Oak Bay Police Department.