We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Rules of the road ready for an overhaul

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, November 17th 2017

There should be higher fines and penalty points for drivers who do not check for cyclists, Steve Wallace writes.


There is only one situation where a city driver can smash into something and be totally without blame: when a driver hits the open door of a parked motor vehicle.
The driver or passenger opening the door in an unsafe fashion is liable for a fine of $81 and two penalty points in B.C.

(The same offence in Ontario comes with a $375 fine.)

There are also very hefty insurance deductible amounts to be paid before any such collision file is concluded.
In all cases, the offending door opener bears the financial brunt of this type of crash.
The damage to the stationary vehicle usually far exceeds the damage to the vehicle that ran into the door.

What happens when the crash involves a cyclist?
This happens far more often than it should, when drivers do not check properly for cyclists approaching from behind.
Injuries can be severe, if not life-threatening. For this reason alone, the fine and penalty points must be increased substantially.
Cyclists are at the mercy of drivers and their passengers in this situation.

Passengers are much more likely to not have a driver’s licence, and to open the passenger door without looking for cyclists.
That results in a unique danger to cyclists on one-way streets with a bike lane on the left side of the street.
All drivers and passengers should employ the “Dutch reach” method of opening the car door.
Reaching with the hand on the opposite side from the door will naturally make it easier to check for an approaching vehicle of any kind with a turn of the head in the direction of the door.

Since cyclists endure severe injury or worse in these situations, there should be a dramatic increase in the fine and penalty points for this irresponsible action.
Copying the Ontario example is worth considering.
There is another inconsistency in the fines levied against bike riders who do not wear helmets.
The amount is about $30, which is ridiculously low. The offence is akin to
driving without wearing a seatbelt in a motor vehicle, which nets a fine of $167.

The police are loath to put aside other serious duties to enforce a regulation with such a financially minuscule penalty.
It’s long past time for this fine to be raised significantly. It’s the responsibility of every driver to be aware of the cyclists in our traffic system.
In collisions with motor vehicles, cyclists always end up the worse for wear.

It’s about time they all began to protect themselves.

The inconsistency between the penalty for failure to stop completely at a stop sign and failure to stop at a red traffic light is difficult to understand.
Only two penalty points are assessed for not stopping at a red light.
Three points are assessed for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign.

Which would you think is the more serious offence?

It seems reasonable to have a greater penalty for running a red light than a stop sign, given the greater volume of traffic of all types at signalized intersections.
The fact that the fine for a stop-sign violation exceeds that for a solid-red traffic-light violation is reason enough to take a long hard look at the fine system in our province.

It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Why not copy the best practices of other provinces?





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