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Motor vehicle

Demonstration License Plates

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Chances are, if you've ever gone to a car dealership and test driven a vehicle, you were driving a vehicle equipped with demonstration license plates. The license plates are commonly known as dealer plates and may be attached to any vehicle owned by or under sale consignment to the dealer intended for use by a customer. When used this way, the vehicle is considered to be properly licensed and insured as required by the Motor Vehicle Act.

The sales people at the dealership will likely be very careful to insure that you have a valid driver's license before they allow you to test drive a vehicle equipped with demonstration plates. This is a wise precaution as the vehicle is subject to seizure if the driver is a vehicle impound candidate. Chances are good that they will photocopy your drivers license to retain as proof and you may wish to request the photocopy be returned to you when you bring their vehicle back in good condition.

As the driver of a demonstration vehicle, you will also be interested in the paperwork that you are required to have while you are testing the vehicle. This is written permission, valid for a period of not more than 48 hours, must contain the date and time of issue and the signature of the demonstration license holder. If requested by the police, you must produce it.

Vehicles Owned by Dead People

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In the time that I have been writing this column I have accumulated many different topics. The requests have been varied, but I must admit, I never would have come up with this week's topic myself. A reader has asked about vehicles owned by dead people.

The question is not as far out as you might think, and has some very important legal considerations. The lawyer I spoke with to gather background information suggested that on the death of a sole registered owner, the plates be cancelled, a storage insurance policy be purchased, and the vehicle be parked until the estate is probated. If the vehicle is worth less than $10,000 and the spouse is registered as co-owner ICBC will allow the surviving spouse to change the registration to indicate that they are sole owner in order to continue to use the vehicle prior to probate.

If others continue to use the vehicle after the registered owner's death, be sure all insurance companies with an interest in the vehicle are notified of the situation. Failure to do so could result in a denial of insurance coverage if the vehicle were damaged or stolen.

Breakdown Warning Devices

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When I am not responding to column suggestions I take my inspiration from watching what is going on around me when I drive. The other day I almost turned around to warn a mother and child sitting on the concrete barrier in front of a broken down van towing a tent trailer. Even if the trailer was not stopped partly into the traveled lane I know from investigating collisions that they were at greater risk than they realized.

A kit consisting of at least two reflective orange triangles could have improved these people's safety considerably. Placed at least 4 seconds travel time to the rear, at the rear and halfway in between, three triangles would have given approaching traffic a clue that something hazardous was ahead, especially at night. It's a small investment that could even save a life.

Motorhomes and commercial vehicles that carry more than 10 passengers or are over 2.3 meters in width registered in British Columbia are required to carry approved warning devices. These must consist of devices meant for use during darkness and two red flags of at least 30 by 30 centimeters in size or two warning devices meant for daytime use. Proper warning triangles meet both requirements.

Open Liquor in a Motor Vehicle

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On a sunny afternoon patrol one weekend I stopped a vehicle that had been exceeding the speed limit. As I approached, I could see two gray haired women in the front and two men of the same vintage in the rear of the car. I could also see a partially consumed cold beer in the hand of each of the men, who made no attempt to hide them from me.

I explained that the liquor was being possessed and consumed illegally and that I would be searching the car under the provisions of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. I had to convince the two to hand over the two open bottles of beer and searched for and seized the balance under very strong verbal protest.

The registered owner of the vehicle, a local resident, was one of the males and he exclaimed that he could see nothing wrong with enjoying a drink with his visiting guest as his wife drove the car. She had not been drinking, but she received the ticket for illegal transport of the liquor.

Perhaps I have seen too many collisions caused by impaired drivers, but I do believe that there are more appropriate places to enjoy an alcoholic drink than doing so in the passenger compartment of your vehicle while it is being driven on the highway. In my view it is a very short step between passengers drinking and the driver joining in too.

Double Solid Yellow Lines

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Could you talk about the rule about not crossing a double line when driving? A friend and I were talking about this and she thought there had been an update on this rule, that you were allowed to cross a double line under certain circumstances, though she could not remember what the circumstances were.

The rules regarding double solid yellow lines on British Columbia highways have not changed. They require that a driver remain to the right of them at all times. Technically, this means that as soon as your left side tires stray onto the lines themselves, you have broken those rules. You are not even allowed to cross them in order to avoid an obstruction on the highway as you may with single lines or a combination of single and broken lines.

I have seen many ticket disputes for crossing a double solid line ranging from "I wasn't passing anyone" to "my car wasn't completely over the line." One gentleman even tried to explain that he was avoiding an article on the road by going around it to the left. Had he slowed down and gone around it on the right where there was room to pass by safely, he would have avoided joining all these people who were convicted by the traffic court justice.

Forestry TruckSafe Takes Responsibility

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Perhaps one of the more difficult aspects of driving is taking responsibility for your actions when you drive your vehicle or your employer's vehicle. We tend to sit anonymously in the confines of the passenger compartment and not feel obligated to exercise our social manners toward the other unfamiliar drivers around us. Imagine identifying yourself to everyone and publicly taking accountability for your actions and those of your employees.

This is exactly what the Forestry TruckSafe's Vehicle Identification Number Program does. Companies or individuals that join the program, and there were about 5000 vehicles registered as of last December, register and display identification number plates on the front bumper of their vehicles. The plate shows the company name on top and the vehicle number in large numbers underneath.

If the driver misbehaves one can call 877-324-1212 and report the vehicle to TruckSafe. They will take your complaint to the identification number holder on your behalf if you wish. If you would rather look after it yourself, there is a search form on the Forestry TruckSafe web site that will translate the identification number to a company representative's name and telephone number.

Vehicle Impound

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Taking your neighbour's request at face value turned out to be an expensive lesson for Jessica. She had loaned her vehicle to a neighbour and somewhere along the journey the neighbour met up with the police. The neighbour was a vehicle impound candidate because they didn't have a valid driver's license and Jessica was now faced with making an application to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to attempt to have her vehicle returned to her before the end of the impoundment period.

The neighbour was well aware that they were unlicensed because vehicle impoundment does not occur until after the person is convicted of driving without a driver's license and they don't bother to renew.

The officer who stopped the driver was left without a choice because the legislation requires that the impoundment take place.

Discretion may be exercised by the Superintendent who can decide to return the vehicle to the owner before the end of the impoundment period. Stolen vehicles, errors by police or ICBC regarding a driver's status as an impound candidate, or the exercise of due diligence by the owner in loaning the vehicle may be considered. In order to trigger a review, Jessica will be required to pay a fee and complete a document explaining her reasoning.

Trailer Light and Reflector Requirements

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Nine lamps and six reflectors are the minimum required by law to be installed and functional on your trailer. If that trailer is not a small one, the number grows rapidly to stay in compliance depending on its length and width. Not just any lamp or reflector will do either, they all must be the right device for the right place and comply with standards.

Manufacturers of trailers must comply with the requirements set out in the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act and Regulations. Should you choose to build your own trailer, you will have to comply with the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. Ultimately, both hold the builder to the same set of standards and the police enforce them after construction is completed and the trailers are in use on our highways.

The minimum consists of yellow side marker lights and reflectors at each side of the front, red side marker lamps and reflectors at each side of the rear, red stop lamps, tail lamps and reflectors at both sides facing the rear and finally a white license plate lamp. All of these devices are marked according to standards identifying them as acceptable for their purpose and may or may not be combined in the same unit.

What is a Traffic Control Device?

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Amid the chaos of a collision scene this afternoon came a call over the police radio: "grab that vehicle, it just drove around the cones and into oncoming traffic!" Not only did the emergency workers have to deal with a two vehicle collision in an intersection full of emergency vehicles, they also had to contend with drivers who were going through no matter what. The line of cones blocking the lane might not have been seen as something the driver needed to take meaning from in this situation.

A traffic control device can be many things including: a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device. In this case, the cones would be considered a device and when placed across the lane are a traffic control device that bars traffic from proceeding. Failing to obey them may place yourself or others at risk and could result in the issue of a violation ticket.

This is a very narrow view of the huge number of traffic control devices that we encounter when we drive every day. Signs are self evident, but it sometimes seems that the message conveyed by the type of line painted on the roadway, arrows painted on the roadway or lights, signs and barriers in a construction zone or collision scene are either confusing for some drivers or convenient to disobey as it suits others.

Parallel Parking and the Impatient Driver

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I've noticed recently that often drivers are impatient of people parallel parking and pass them on the left rather than waiting in the right hand lane for the driver to finish parking before moving forward. In the event of a collision who is at fault - the person parallel parking or the person trying to go around the parallel parking car?

This question turned out to be more involved when I corresponded with the person asking it and learned about what had prompted the query. She had found a place to parallel park, stopped in position to back in, signaled, made sure that the vehicle behind had stopped and began to back in. Like most of us, she concentrated on getting into the parking space properly and did not watch to see that the vehicle behind her remained stopped.

This was an important mistake. Somewhere in the parking attempt, the driver behind decided not to wait, pulled forward to pass and a minor collision occurred. Once the reporting was completed and the decisions made, ICBC decided that the driver backing up was at fault for the collision because she lost sight of the other vehicle while she was backing up. The original query was to try and determine if there were rules about passing that the other driver should have followed.

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