What Are My Duties as a Driver?

Road Safety Starts With YouLast week we looked at what you should be entitled to expect as a driver on B.C.’s highways. It only seems fair that we should examine what your duties as a driver are this week. As before, if I miss or misstate any of them, you are welcome to e-mail duties@drivesmartbc.ca and express your opinion.

It’s probably not something that you would consider first, but you have a general duty of care to all other road users. You must not collide with them or do something that causes them to have a collision or otherwise put them in danger. Supplementing common law, the Motor Vehicle Act makes it an offence to drive without due care and attention or to drive without reasonable consideration for others.

If you are involved in a crash, whether as the driver, operator or person in charge of a vehicle, you must stop, render assistance and provide information about yourself, the owner of the vehicle and it’s licence and insurance particulars to anyone suffering a loss.

You must also provide this information to a witness if they request it.

Before you drive, you must be licenced for the operation of the vehicle you intend to use. It is also up to you to make sure that the vehicle has a valid licence, insurance and is mechanically fit. If required to, you must be able to demonstrate all of these things to the police.

If you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, physical or mental infirmity, fatigue or anything else that would prevent you from driving safely, you must not drive. If you become this way while driving, you are expected to stop until you can become safe again or turn the duty over to someone qualified to assume it.

If your health or driving skills deteriorate, you must take steps to compensate for or regain them. Minimum standards must be met throughout your driving career.

When you drive, you must obey all of the rules of the road. All the time. Not just when it is convenient for you to do so.

It is also your responsibility to know what these rules are. If you ever face the courts to be called to account for your actions as a driver excuses such as “I didn’t know” or “Someone should have told me” will not be accepted.

Responsible drivers will choose to do something to maintain or improve their skills and knowledge over time. If you find it difficult to do this on your own, taking instruction from a driving school is probably your best choice.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t bring a bad attitude to the driver’s seat! Driving is not all about ME, it’s all about US. Sharing and co-operation are concepts that should be foremost in our minds when we are behind the wheel.

Oh, and if you are a cyclist or pedestrian, most of this applies to you too. ALL road users have a duty to share, co-operate and be safe.

Comments

The rights of a witness

"If you are involved in a crash, whether as the driver, operator or person in charge of a vehicle, you must stop, render assistance and provide information about yourself, the owner of the vehicle and it’s licence and insurance particulars to anyone suffering a loss.

You must also provide this information to a witness if they request it."

This is a bit of a surprise.  I can see an upset police officer demanding that I leave the scene.  Do bystanders really have the right to ask for this information?

Answer

Duty of driver at accident

68 (1) The driver or operator or any other person in charge of a vehicle that is, directly or indirectly, involved in an accident on a highway must do all of the following:

(c) produce in writing to any other driver involved in the accident and to anyone sustaining loss or injury, and, on request, to a witness

(i) his or her name and address,

(ii) the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle,

(iii) the licence number of the vehicle, and

(iv) particulars of the motor vehicle liability insurance card or financial responsibility card for that vehicle, or such of that information as is requested.

It isn't possible

Beyond a basic understanding, it is not humanly possible for anyone to know all the laws pertaining to the operation of a motor vehicle.

Lawyers -- especially those making up the laws -- appear to make them deliberately obscure, and write them in language that is not understandable by the layman.

If we are going to pretend to be fair about this, there should be a way to present the law in a form understandable by all drivers with a working knowledge of English. 

Since so many drivers don't even have a working knowledge of English in this province, in order to be fair to those drivers, the laws should be made available to them, in their own language.

Holding a person responsible for knowing something they cannot possibly understand is not just.

Holding a person responsible for knowing all the details of all the laws is similarly unjust.  The amount of study required is beyond the ability of most of us. 

 

And yet when you are in

And yet when you are in court, the judge will tell you ignorance of the law is no excuse.  It seems we are caught between a rock and a hard place.  That is why lawyers make so much money. :-(

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