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Regulators should embrace new technology

November 20, 2020


Government agencies such as ICBC need to start allowing for technological advances. TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE


Wendall has a Tesla with all the bells and whistles. He says it is the best car he has owned.

There are all sorts of options that make driving easier and safer. He wanted to know if it was possible to use the surround camera to be substituted for a head-turn blind spot check to both sides. According to regulators, the answer is NO! Driving examiners are told to see a head-turn blind spot check for every lateral move.

This answer makes no sense. Technology should be embraced by regulators, not ignored. What is the difference between checking the rearview mirror to see the following traffic and seeing traffic to the side of the vehicle using a surround camera? Check out this ridiculous and faulty logic. It is alright to look in the rearview mirror to see following traffic. The driver does not need to swivel his or her head around to a 180-degree check. If drivers on a road test use a surround camera on a TESLA, or any other vehicle with such technology, they fail the road test.

Why is this driver testing division of ICBC so reluctant to embrace technology? Your guess is as good as mine. When you have a monopoly, what is your motivation to embrace logic? None whatsoever, I suspect.

Several readers were supportive of the lightup-and-live actions of drivers, now that the daylight hours are shorter and shorter, leading up to the latter part of December. Modern headlights are reliable and can be counted on for long periods of time as opposed to the cheap and undependable ones of yesteryear. Taillights illuminated in daylight will reduce the chance of a rear-end collision substantially.

Why are some municipalities embracing lower residential speed limits?

The explanation is simple. Most residential streets have a deferral speed of 50 km/h in B.C. This speed is not an absolute. There is enforcement of this speed as there is in other upper and lower speed zones respectively, namely highway and school/playground zones.

Many residential posted speeds are far too fast for this type of terrain. The enforcement authorities have always emphasized the violation of too fast for conditions. The problem that many municipalities and police departments have with this type of enforcement is that it is an after-the-fact ticketing function. A crash happens and a person is charged with the too-fast-for-conditions offence. This is hardly a proactive approach.

Some cities want to drop the deferred speed limit to 40 km/h in residential neighbourhoods. The damage in crashes at 50 km/h is reduced by the factor of the exponential increase from 40 km/h. Pedestrians and cyclists are much safer when drivers have more time to react in potential crash situations.

Stopping distance is straightforward math. Without going into detail, the difference between the stopping distance at 50 km/h as opposed to 40 km/h results in a reduction of total stopping distance by about 1/3. This is likely to influence local city governments. Many of them will want to give the reduced speed limit a try.

Whether it is a pilot project or a trial period, there is bound to be a much clearer statistical analysis of the change over a predetermined time period.

The fact there have been some recent crashes involving serious and debilitating injury to young people may give credence to such a reduced residential deferral speed. Is it worth a try? Probably!
Public buy-in is paramount. To get it will depend on designating arterial and connector streets as remaining with the 50 km/h deferral and the 40 km/h applying to true neighbourhood streets and cul-de-sacs. Signs announcing the pilot plan change should be well placed at all arterial entrances to the participating municipalities.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a U of Manitoba graduate.

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