November 13, 2012
Recently I was sitting inside – writing about safety – and I kept hearing mega-splashes on the road. I realized, from the sound, that the leaves had clogged the drain on the road, which could lead to hydroplaning.
Instead of sitting inside, writing about safety, I decided to go outside and deal with the problem. So I grabbed an old broom, walked to the intersection, pressed the pedestrian button, and stood back about three metres to avoid getting showered by puddle water from passing cars.
When the cars came to a stop at the pedestrian light, I looked around carefully, went to the edge of the road, and stabbed the end of the broom into the slimey blob of leaves blocking the drain grate. The mini-lake drained instantly, bubbling and swirling down into the sewer. I went inside and got back to work – feeling most satisfied about my little safety fix.
But there are many other big patches of water on the road and it’s important to “Drop your speed to match road conditions,” according to this tip on the Shift Into Winter website by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance Partners.
Add leaves to the mix and it’s even worse – especially when they clog the drains and big puddles form, putting cars at risk of hydroplaning, which can cause drivers to lose control.
“Hydroplaning occurs when a thin layer of water causes your tires to lose contact with the road,” reads this Road Safety announcement from the City of Port Coquitlam, advising drivers to do the following if their vehicles hydroplane:
- Keep both hands on the steering wheel, steering gently in the direction you want your car to go
- Slow down, and do not slam on the brakes
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated, have good tread, and are “all weather” tires designed for bad road conditions
Check out Road Safety at Work if you drive as part of your job, and check out this video on what to if you hydroplane.
July 03, 2012
“Where would you like to see a BC HighwayCam in our province to better help you know before you go?”
It’s an important question indeed – for working drivers and the public – and throughout June it was TranBC‘s monthly survey question. These cameras contribute to the safety of all road users who can go online, see road conditions, and plan their routes.
TranBC is an online education, awareness, and engagement initiative of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. It was on Twitter that I first saw a link to their HighwayCam survey – and I wondered how many participated.
I asked Russel Lolacher, director of social media for the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Business Management Services. He said (on June 21) they had received more than 500. (Update: “FYI, we ended up with over 700 responses to the web cam survey. Great feedback as to where people want new cams,” said @TranBC via Twitter on July 3).
“BC highway webcams are one of our most popular online services here at the Ministry of Transportation, and to better serve the public, we want to engage those that use them,” Russel said, via email. “We would like to hear from professional drivers due to their experience, travelling our transportation consistently. Their knowledge is invaluable, as is their input.”
Starting conversations and building relationships
TranBC is using many platforms to connect with their stakeholders – i.e., this survey, along with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more (see below). I asked Russel if he had any advice for organizations who want to use this social media technology to get input from their own stakeholders.
“The best piece of advice I would recommend is not to look at it as using technology, but rather as hearing from people. The social platforms you’ve just mentioned are just tools, it’s the human engagement that matters most regardless of the medium you use,” Russel said.
“To be successful in hearing from your stakeholders, an organization has to look at it as an ongoing conversation and relationship building, rather than ‘one-offs.’ Through our social channels such as TranBC and DriveBC, we are working to build a long-term presence as the online BC Transportation resource for the travelling public.”
Each month, TranBC is launching a different survey. In July, the public is invited to share their views on how Transportation and Infrastructure can improve its level of customer service.
October 04, 2011
Abby Mikkelson helps women and their families during labour, birth, and early days with a baby. She packs what she needs to care for herself, so she’ll be ready to care for others – including a change of clothes, healthy snacks, water, and non-slip shoes for the hospital delivery room. As a doula, she’s available on call 24/7.
“Labour can start at any point during the day or night, but I often find myself being awakened with a phone call in the middle of the night,” says Abby, who drives her own car to homes and hospitals.
Critical car care
Abby’s car is an important part of the equation, so she takes good care of it – with regular oil changes, tune-ups, enough air in the tires, and at least a quarter tank of gas. And she makes sure she knows where she’s going.
“Knowing the route to their home ahead of time is imperative,” she says. “This helps me to know which lane goes faster, where to turn, if I should avoid certain streets due to more dangerous intersections.”
Even though Abby is self-employed, she faces the same road safety issues as other people who drive while working for employers. They are known as the “grey fleet” – defined by this WorkSafe Magazine story as “workers who drive a vehicle during the course of their work, but for whom driving is not a primary duty.”
Focusing on the grey fleet
Deirdre Holmes is with the Occupational Road Safety Partnership – and she says this group of workers hasn’t always been on the radar like they are today.
Now the safety community is focused on it because 30 people in the grey fleet died each year in BC from 2005 to 2007 – making MVI the second highest cause of worker death after asbestos exposure. The cost of WorkSafeBC motor vehicle claims was almost $31 million in 2007.
In 2009, the BCAA Road Safety Foundation and WorkSafeBC created a partnership to solve this tragic problem. Deirdre manages its fleet safety and grey fleet safety programs.
“The workplace extends into the worker’s vehicle, which is actually a workplace on wheels,” Deirdre said, inviting employers to get in touch with her if they had questions about implementing their own grey fleet programs.
Drive safely as the temperature cools
Whether or not you drive at work, check out Shift Into Winter – with tips on winter driving safety from the Occupational Road Safety Partnership.
Have any other road safety resources to recommend? Please share them here.
February 15, 2011
I first heard the news from my Driver Safety Canada group on LinkedIn. Transport Canada announced: “Lowest death toll on Canadian roads in almost 60 years”.
In 2008, 2,419 road users died in Canada, down from 2,761 in 2007. I thought about why these numbers are down (but still too high) and it seemed to me we owe credit to the people who’ve been advocating for road safety.
Who can we thank?
One important project is the Fraser Canyon Truck Safety Corridor: “BC and Canada’s first designated highway safety corridor” established in 2005. I did some writing for this project back then, and I always think of it now when I drive this highway east of Vancouver.
A highway safety corridor is “a stretch of highway that experiences a higher than average number of motor vehicle crashes, injuries or fatalities.” ICBC sponsored the installation of rumble strips on the road. The strips mark the edges of traffic lanes and they make a rumbling sound when your tires pass over them. I’m sure they’ve made a big difference and prevented lots of crashes, along with new signage, traffic routing, and road improvements.
Still too many dying
That lower total of fatalities for 2008 (2419 people) is still far too high. Reducing them further is an ongoing goal shared by these dedicated drivers of change in BC:
1. DriveBC - up-to-date road conditions listed, managed by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – with a good Twitter feed of road safety updates.
2. Shift into Winter – a website of road safety tips from:
3. Staying safe on BC’s resource roads – A video series for for workers, created by WorkSafeBC with the assistance of the forestry, petroleum, and mining industries.
4. Preventable.ca – a community raising awareness of preventable injuries, including:
* BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation
* Insurance Bureau of Canada
* London Drugs Ltd.
* BC Ministry of Labour
* Pacific Blue Cross
This is not an exhaustive list – so please let me know who else to thank for efforts. I hope everyone who’s been working for road safety will see the Transport Canada stats, pat themselves on the back, and then keep working – along with the rest of us drivers.
October 14, 2010
If you drive your own car at work, you’re part of what’s called “the grey fleet” and your car is considered part of your workplace. Sales people, home care workers, and house cleaners are in the grey fleet – and once upon a time so was I.
This made me especially curious about the cover article in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of WorkSafe Magazine, which says vehicle collisions are second only to asbestos exposure as a cause of worker deaths. Read more