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Funeral Processions

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This is a column on etiquette and consideration for others that has little to do with safety, and everything to do with respect. I was asked to write on the subject of funeral processions by the friend of a family whose members were upset at the lack of thought shown by other drivers entering and leaving the procession to the cemetery.

The Motor Vehicle Act grants the power to a municipality to regulate and control processions on highways within the municipality. A check with the municipalities near where I live revealed no rules in their current traffic by-laws regarding a funeral procession.

Further, the Motor Vehicle Act exempts the driver of a motor vehicle in a funeral procession from the requirement to leave sufficient space between his or her vehicle and another vehicle to enable a vehicle to enter and occupy that space without danger.

In past, the line of slow moving traffic with headlights on was readily identifiable, even if you didn’t see the hearse or family limousine. Today daytime running lights make it more difficult to recognize a funeral procession. A driver may have to watch and consider a bit more than usual, then politely wait a few moments while the procession passes by. It’s a small price to pay for the same consideration if you ever find yourself in the family limousine one day.

Passing on the Right Revisited

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I hope that an article about passing on the right might help at least some drivers understand the rules and help improve the driving community. I have made a point of keeping to the right side of the lane to try and prevent vehicles from passing. One day a driver fingered and yelled at me, yet the driver was attempting to do something illegal (even though many drivers perform this illegal act).

Employee Safe Driving Policy

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I was listening to the investigation of a driving complaint unfold the other day. A member of the public had complained about the way a business vehicle was being driven and the constable had asked the dispatcher to inquire about the driver with the business. "He's a pretty bad driver" the dispatcher relayed from the business owner, "he should probably get a ticket."

My first reaction on hearing this was if that's the case, why was the business owner allowing the employee to drive? He clearly knew that his employee was either lacking in driving skill or had personal difficulties with the driving rules. Why take the risk? The employer could be held liable both criminally and civilly if this employee were to cause a collision.

Anyone who employs a driver, large business or small, should have a safe driving policy in effect that employees must signify that they are aware of and are expected to adhere to at all times while operating a business vehicle, whether for work purposes or not. Further, this policy should be even more comprehensive if the employee uses their personal vehicle for work purposes.

Wear Your Seat Belt Properly

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We all know that the law requires that we wear our seat belts when driving. The Motor Vehicle Act says in part "..wear the complete seat belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner." Why should we worry, and how do we know what is proper?

During a collision where the occupant is wearing the seat belt properly the hips may move ahead as much as six inches, the chest eight to nine inches and the head twenty inches. You will strike anything within those distances. Wearing a seat belt improperly can actually contribute to injury especially in the case where the shoulder belt is worn under the arm.

The proper use of seat belts can double the effectiveness of airbags in minimizing injury.

Your vehicles owners manual is the best place to learn about how to wear your seat belt properly. It will explain how to fasten and adjust the belt to maximize both comfort and protection. It will also contain information on the correct use of child restraints.

Some examples of what NOT to do with a seat belt: wear the shoulder belt under your arm, continue to use a frayed or broken belt, put more than one child in a single seat belt, using a seat belt if it is twisted and any "do it yourself" webbing repair.

Speed Kills, or Does it?

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"Speed Kills!" is a popular road safety slogan that we hear often. It's pretty simplistic and when I look around me on the highway I am convinced that drivers either don't believe it or live in a world of denial. Speed alone doesn't kill, but combine it with poor driving skills or a bad decision and it definitely makes a bad situation worse.

The most obvious drawback of speed is that the faster you go, the more likely some road user is going to get hurt or killed when things go wrong. Energy increases as the square of the speed and our bodies can only deal with sudden changes in energy to a certain extent. Exceed that threshold and we tend to come apart at the seams.

The faster you go, the less time you have to deal with issues. These issues may be caused by you or they may be caused by another road user. Either way, if you are going too fast to react and recover, it's going to hurt someone.

"Go with the flow." Yes, I agree that is a good idea until the flow exceeds the speed limit. I like to obey the rules of the road and we have some drivers who are unsafe at speeds above the limit.

Perhaps the next time the news tells you that a collision was a result of speed, think that it probably means inappropriate speed made a driving error unrecoverable.

Turning Left is Complicated

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How much time do you have to look, decide and then execute a left turn in heavy traffic? Do you feel pushed by the drivers behind you into making that decision quickly? If you cannot "check your six" quickly and confidently, it's time to wait for certainty.

By "check your six" I don't mean look behind you like a fighter pilot. Instead check to your left for a red light runner, on the left diagonal to make sure your path is clear, straight ahead for oncoming traffic that is a hazard or may not stop, the left turn driver coming toward us to make sure they turn properly, diagonally to the right for a red light runner and finally one last check of the lights to make sure we may proceed.

Beware of the drivers who don't believe that a yellow light means stop. These days drivers are as likely to accelerate when they see a green signal turn to yellow as they are to begin to brake. If you are lawfully in the intersection, you may be wise to wait until your light is red, as you still have the right of way to clear the intersection.

If that left turn is just too dangerous, there is a simple solution. Drive one block past the intersection that you wanted to turn left at and now make three right turns instead. What's a little delay compared to arriving at your destination safely?

Passing a Cyclist Safely

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Cyclists are entitled to their share of the highway, just as motor vehicle drivers are. When they are overtaken by a motor vehicle, it is the driver's responsibility to pass the cyclist safely. It is not the cyclists responsibility to get out of the way of the driver if the cyclist is legally occupying the lane.

When you approach a cyclist and prepare to overtake, slow down, just as you would any other vehicle on the road. You need to survey the situation and make sure that it is safe to pass. If it would not be safe to pass another vehicle at that spot, it is probably not safe to pass the cyclist either.

If you have to wait for a gap in traffic to pass, remember to leave a reasonable following distance between your vehicle and the cycle. This will give you more time to be aware and react if the cyclist needs to move left to avoid an obstacle as you follow them.

Leave at least one meter of space between you and the cyclist as you pass by, more if possible. If it is multi-laned highway, change lanes. Remember that if you have a right side mirror that extends a significant distance that the space must be measured from the outside edge of your mirror, not the side of the vehicle.

Special Trailer Tires

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Most of the people on my RV forum have moved away from ST tires to LT tires. They claim these tires have a higher reserve load capacity, better construction and much lower failure rate. The failure rate of ST tires appears to be substantially higher. My tire guy says if I get pulled over by traffic enforcement I will be fined for illegal tires. Have you heard of this?

I have no experience using special trailer tires that I know of, but they appear to be the best choice for trailers according to my research. Radial ply tires for trailers used regularly and for long distances and bias ply tires for the utility trailer that you only use on the odd weekend. They carry more load than a comparably sized passenger or light truck tire too.

The biggest plus for these tires appears to be stiff sidewalls that cut down on trailer sway and reduce the chance of a blowout. They will also track straighter.

If you keep special trailer tires (or any other tire for that matter) properly inflated and make sure that they are not overloaded, they should not fail at a higher than normal rate compared to other types of tires.

Post Crash Lamp Exams

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A tungsten lamp filament can tell a crash investigator a great deal post collision if you look carefully. Was it on or was it off? The outcome may mean that the headlights were on or that the signal light was never used. This information may be important to the outcome of the investigation.

A lamp that is on has a filament that is very hot and pliable. Subject it to a significant shock, such as the forces of a collision, it will stretch out inside the glass envelope, possibly even breaking. If it breaks, the broken ends will be pulled thin as the hot tungsten stretches.

Left Turn Into the Wrong Lane

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I've noticed a new way to do left turns onto a busy four lane highway near my home. You stop at the stop sign on the side road, look both ways, then turn left, head on into the left turn lane on the highway. Once there, you check behind and move right into the fast lane if there is room. If not, you stop and wait until there is room to proceed.

This does make life exciting if there is oncoming traffic wanting to use their left turn lane but it helps avoid the highway traffic that rarely slows to the posted 60 km/h limit. I've often thought that selfish drivers on the highway can't see a reason to slow from 90 until they are trying to enter the highway from a side road here. The trouble is, they don't seem to remember that difficulty when the duty is to slow for other drivers.

When the driver on the side road stops and yields to traffic on the highway close enough to be a hazard, the rules then allow them to proceed with caution. Traffic on the highway must now yield and let the driver enter. Never rely on right of way in this situation as it is unlikely that traffic on the highway will yield.

Don't make a practice of this new method of turning left. It's illegal! One must always make the turn to arrive in the first available lane to the right of the center line before you leave the intersection.

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