Behind The Wheel: New winter tire rules kick in this month

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On Oct. 1, 2014 the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced “new” winter tire rules for British Columbia. The changes are part of the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review conducted by the Ministry about one year ago when BC residents were asked to express their opinion. From the information provided to me, it appears that the only thing that has changed is the signage beside the highway.

In past, the signs required winter tires with sufficient tread or carrying a set of tire chains for all vehicles that passed them. Now the signs simply require winter tires that are marked with either the mountain and snowflake symbol or M+S for light vehicles and that heavier commercial vehicles carry tire chains.

I’m confused when I look at the sign because it appears to say that heavier commercial vehicles are not required to use winter tires.

Shouldn’t it say use winter tires and carry chains under the picture if they were? The distinction is important because the law requires that the Minister must give public notice or place signs before winter tires are required. The signs must be unambiguous.

The boss won’t fix it

It is not uncommon for police to stop a defective vehicle and be told “The boss said drive it.”

The employee is at a disadvantage, he has to drive to keep his job but he is also liable for driving the defective vehicle.

While the employee cannot be absolved for the deficiencies, the boss is equally responsible in law.

The Motor Vehicle Act makes the registered owner a party to the offence committed by the employee, servant, agent or worker, or anyone entrusted by him with the possession of the vehicle when the offence is related to equipment or maintenance. This makes the employer personally liable to the same penalty as the driver.

It does not remove the responsibility of the driver if action is taken by police against the owner for the violation.

Certain commercial vehicles are required to make pre- and post-trip inspections on a daily basis.

The employee doing the inspection must record defects in the trip inspection report, regardless of the fact that they might feel it does no good. Carrier safety audits could be triggered by maintenance concerns and the result of the audit could mean the loss of the company’s safety certificate, effectively ending it’s ability to operate vehicles on the highway.

It is good practice for the rest of us to do a critical item inspection before we set out on our daily drive.

The time spent is minimal and the gain in safety is certainly worthwhile.

 

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca.

 

 

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