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Motor vehicle

Should I Use Studded Winter Tires?

Research articles : 

When I was posted to Fort St. John detachment, the decision was easy, our family car had four studded winter tires. Once I was transferred to Penticton, these tires went with the car when we traded it in and we used all season tires throughout the year. Now that we live on Vancouver Island, we've come full circle and just purchased a set of four studded winter tires.

Compared to the rest of the province, much of the lower mainland and Vancouver Island might be considered almost tropical in the winter months. Why would one even consider using winter tires instead of all season tires, much less invest in tire studs for them? It turns out that studded tires can be very useful.

Tests conducted in Finland in 2003 on a variety of winter road surfaces using a number of major tire brands found that studded winter tires were superior to studless winter tires or all season tires in all conditions including, ice, snow, slush and wet pavement. They failed in only one area, running quietly on dry pavement.

Use Winter Tread Tires or Carry Chains

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The province of British Columbia has not yet mandated that true winter tread tires be used during the winter months on all highways. However, one can only legally operate in the ice and snow using all season or summer tires if they are not traveling on posted highways or are carrying tire chains that are the appropriate size and type for the vehicle. This does restrict the use of all season tires in most areas of the province.

A posted highway is one that is marked with a sign advising motorists that they must use winter tread tires or carry chains once they have passed the sign.

For the purposes of the sign, a winter tire is one that is advertised or represented by its manufacturer or a person in the business of selling tires to be a tire intended principally for winter use. An all season tire is designed to be a compromise and operate in both summer and winter. It is not designed principally for winter use. Only those tires displaying the mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall are winter tires that fit this definition.

Should you choose not to follow the advice on the sign, police may prevent you from traveling further until you are in compliance. They may also choose to issue a traffic ticket that carries a penalty of $121 and 2 points, or about the price of a good winter tire or set of chains.

In Car Television

Research articles : 

Is it legal to install a television set in a vehicle? There are two answers to this question, one simple and the other complicated. Driver distraction and the possibility of a collision resulting from it is a very real concern.

A television may be installed in a vehicle in view of the driver only when the information displayed on it is required for the operation of the vehicle or safety of the passengers. When installed it must be safely and securely mounted in a position that does not obstruct the view of the driver.

Televisions installed to provide entertainment for the passengers are not regulated when they are mounted out of the driver's view.

A quick search on the word "telematics" on the world wide web resulted in thousands of hits describing how manufacturers and content suppliers are attempting to turn your vehicle into a mobile multimedia system. They offer entertainment, navigation, roadside assistance and telephone service to mention only a few.

The drawback of this is that drivers will use these conveniences while they are driving.

2 or 4 Winter Tires?

Research articles : 

I began driving my own car in the mid-fifties and I always used winter tires on the rear only during the winter months. Based on about thirty years of experience, I feel that I am quite capable of managing winter driving with the traction arrangement I had for rear drive in the past. However, I am not interested in contravening any law or regulation. Is there a law that requires me to have winter tires on all 4 wheels of my new rear wheel drive only pickup?

Based on my experience as a collision analyst, I can tell you that any vehicle will steer more predictably if the traction at each wheel is the same. Whether you choose to use four all season tires or four winter tires is up to you, but operating with two all season tires on one end and two winter tires on the other is an invitation to problems. Mixing tire types will affect both steering and braking.

Having different sets of tires on front and rear axles may cause one end of the vehicle to lose traction before the other in a turn. Depending on the conditions, this could include having four winter tires or four all season tires where the pairs have different tread patterns or traction characteristics.

Proper Display of License Plates

Research articles : 

I was wondering if it was the law in B.C. to display both license plates on a vehicle? I see a lot of vehicles with only the rear license plate.

The humble licence plate has but one job, positively identifying the vehicle it is attached to. Without license plates, how would we know who owned the vehicle? How would you complain about an erratic driver or report your stolen vehicle? Photo enforcement would be stymied and even the lowly parking ticket would have difficulty.

Vehicle owners seem to find every excuse to do what they please, particularly with regard to the front licence plate. It looks ugly, I don't have a mounting bracket, the bolts are too rusted. Throw it on the dash, wire it onto the bumper, who cares? Hang bicycles in front of it, don't keep it clean, slap decorations over top, the list is endless. Even the provincial government has gotten into the act with an olympic license plate that is difficult to read at half the distance you could read a standard plate at.

Allowing an Unlicensed Minor to Drive

Research articles : 

I have a question. A friend of mine let his 13 year old daughter drive his car on the streets of our town! What are the implications if they got caught and/or if she got in an accident?

As one might expect, this is an offence against the Motor Vehicle Act. The Act simply says that anyone having possession or control of a motor vehicle and permits an unlicensed minor to drive it commits an offence.

What one might not stop to consider is that if this child caused a collision it could result in financial ruin for the parent. The Insurance (Vehicle) Act allows a claim to be denied if the insured violates a term or condition of the plan. One of the terms of your Autoplan insurance is that the driver must be properly licensed.

At the least the parent who owns the vehicle would have to pay to repair damage to the vehicle. At worst the parent would have to pay the entire bill for damage and injury caused to other property, vehicles and people involved in the collision. When we consider that it is routine to buy a million dollars of third party liability coverage today it is easy to imagine that the financial loss would be devastating.

In view of these facts it can be seen that this is a very poor decision on the part of the parent.

Motorcycles and HOV Lanes

Research articles : 

I ride a motorcycle and find that some HOV lanes allow motorcycles and some do not. It is frustrating to pass the non-HOV entrance to a roadway only to find that the HOV lane entrance does not permit motorcycles. Can it be changed so that motorcycles are permitted to use all HOV lanes and entrances, in particular that one as I commute over that bridge daily?

After trading a few e-mails with this gentleman, I learned that he had been stopped by police and warned that he could not operate his motorcycle in the lane that he had chosen because motorcycles were not permitted by the signs posted for it. That confused me because motorcycles are exempted from the requirement to be a high occupancy vehicle in order to use high occupancy vehicle lanes in British Columbia.

I contacted the police department involved and asked about motorcycles and HOV lanes. They confirmed that what I understood was correct but the largest problem they faced with enforcement was that many drivers did not understand the signs. Often they were operating in bus only lanes mistakenly thinking that they were HOV lanes.

Opening the Door

Research articles : 

Imagine the surprise of the motorist at a collision I once investigated. He parked at the side of the road, opened his door, and a passing car tried to tear it off! It's a good thing he didn't step out while he opened the door.

What went wrong here? The motorist didn't look first, or didn't see what was overtaking him. He probably felt safe in the fact that he had stopped close to the curb and was out of harm's way.

The Brake Check

Research articles : 

The sign says "Trucks, Stop Here, Check Brakes, Steep Hill Ahead." Ask almost anyone and they would likely tell you that this sign only applies to heavy commercial trucks equipped with air brakes. This is not the case however, the sign applies to all trucks with a licensed Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of more than 5,500 kg. regardless of brake system type. It could include everything from a truck tractor to a pickup pulling an RV.

Advisory signs posted at the brake check site tell drivers of vehicles equipped with hydraulic brake systems that they must check pedal pressure, brake assist, that there are no fluid leaks and that the brake drums are not overheated. Pedal pressure is tested by applying the brakes and holding them applied. The pedal must not be spongy or slowly depress. Turn the engine off, pump the brake pedal to deplete the assist, hold the pedal down and start the engine again. If assist is working properly you will feel the pedal rise slightly.

Are you towing a trailer equipped with brakes? Disconnect the vacuum lines, pull the pin on the electric switch or the lever on the surge brake to activate the breakaway brake. Try to drive ahead and the trailer wheels should lock.

The Parking Brake

Research articles : 

Thinking back over my years of doing mechanical inspections at the roadside, one of the most common deficiencies in older vehicles was a parking brake that was either seriously out of adjustment or didn't function at all. Also known as an emergency brake, this mechanical alternative to your hydraulic braking system really has two jobs: providing emergency braking in the event of brake failure and holding your vehicle stationary when it is parked. Will your parking brake be up to the job?

The hydraulic braking system of modern vehicles is highly reliable with proper maintenance. It is actually two separate braking circuits that provide redundant braking if one half of the system were to fail. The parking brake is much less capable, even when it is in proper working order. Let it fall into disrepair and you cannot expect it to be much help when you finally do call on it in a dire emergency.

Many drivers don't realize that the parking brake acts on the rear wheels only and this can result in exciting consequences. The end of your vehicle with the locked wheels is the end that wants to be first. Apply the parking brake immediately with full force and you could find yourself zooming along facing backwards! Always apply the parking brake carefully in an emergency stopping condition.


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