Monday, October 26, 2015

Left-lane ruling in traffic accident raises questions on RVs

Driving your RV and want to pass someone? A British Columbia Supreme Court judge recommends you not be "timid" about it. His ruling raises an eyebrow for the RVing community. The recent ruling stems back from a serious highway accident that played out on a stretch of Coquihalla Highway on an August day back in 2011. The stretch of the road is known as Larson Hill, about 19 miles south of Merritt.

Picture if you will, a chunk of three-lane blacktop, with a fairly steep uphill grade. The speed limit? 110 kilometers per hour – a little over 65 miles per hour. As you roll into the picture, you'll see a "chip truck," or a loaded semi-truck and trailer carrying wood ships, inching its way upgrade in the far right lane, slogging it out at 15 miles per hour. In the center lane, another semi truck, this one making a little less than 45 miles per hour. And in the "hammer" lane? Ah, an RV driven by one Mildred Boizard.

Mildred, who the judge in this story describes as a "timid" driver, is working her way on passing the semi in the center lane. While we don't know what kind of rig Mildred was piloting, court records show she was chugging along at about 52 miles per hour – a full 15 miles per hour or more less than the speed limit.

This all plays out on a stretch of Coquihalla Highway on an August day. The stretch of the road is known as Larson Hill, about 19 miles south of Merritt.

Now entering the picture, a Chevy Suburban. Piloted by one Jed Thu, the Suburban is boiling along "at speeds well in excess of" 80 miles per hour. Evidently Thu saw Mildred Boizard's RV in the left lane, and chose to get around the slow traffic by steering into the right hand lane in an attempt to pass both the RV and the semi-truck in the center lane. Did Thu not see the chip truck in the slow lane? Did he simply misjudge the difference between the chip truck's 15 miles per hour versus his Suburban's 80+ velocity? We don't know.

We do know that when Thu came upon the chip truck, he swerved into the center lane in an attempt to pass it. It didn't work. The solidly built, thoroughly loaded chip trailer met up with the passenger side of Thu's Suburban and peeled the side off the rig like a sardine can lid. Thu lost control and sent the Suburban into a spin. In the ensuing playout of laws of physics, two unfortunate passengers in the Suburban were ejected. They lived, though grievously injured.

So who's at fault here? According to the judge, Jed Thu is "90 percent" responsible for the injuries sustained by his passengers. That leaves the other 10 percent to be unloaded elsewhere, and as you guessed, Mildred Boizard, the RV driver was lumped with the rest of the responsibility. The court record reflects the judge's view, "I find that Mrs. Boizard was a timid driver. She could have driven her camper faster and could have overtaken Mr. Einarson’s tractor-trailer more quickly."

Just how much that ten percent of responsibility due to timidness will cost Mrs. Boizard and/or her insurance company is yet to be seen. The court will rule on a damage award in the future.

It all leaves a lot of open questions. Mildred was driving quite a bit less than the speed limit, true. Still, in her effort to pass the semi in the center lane, she was driving – according to the court's estimates – 7 miles per hour faster than the slower vehicle. How much more power and ability did her rig have? We don't know – and maybe we'll never know.

Still, it is of interest that the province just put in a stronger enforcement bite against road hogs in hammer lanes. In BC, one may not drive in the left lane unless at least one of these conditions is met: You're overtaking and passing another vehicle; you're moving left to allow traffic to merge; or you're preparing for a left hand turn; you're passing a stopped official vehicle displaying red, blue or yellow flashing lights, such as: police cars, ambulances, tow trucks, maintenance or construction vehicles.

It would seem Mildred met one condition – she was overtaking and passing a slower moving vehicle.

Still, the new BC law is pretty much common sense. As much as it can chap one's hide to watch scofflaws zip passed on the freeway, leaving speed-limit-drivers in the dust, sitting in the left lane can create major traffic issues, sometimes with consequences more serious than a speed-demon's hot collar. Down in the Lower 48, at least 40 states have so-called "slow poke" laws regulating when you may or may not be in the "left" lane. Here's a link to look up information on these laws.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

May's "long weekend" brings 2-for-50 camping rates

Looking to pump up interest in camping, a new campaign throughout Canada rolls out this year. Canadian Campground Week offers two nights of camping for $50 during the "long weekend" of May 22 and 23.

The brain-child of the Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC), the idea is to promote camping and RVing lifestyles. the council also hopes to gain more recognition just how much camping and RVing impact local economies. Of course, for campground owners, having hoards of campers rolling through the gates during the "low season," won't hurt, either.

A spokeswoman for CCRVC told Woodalls Campground Management, an industry magazine, that they have great plans for the week. "“We want every campground across the country to participate in promoting the camping and RV lifestyles," said Maryse Catellier. Campgrounds don't have to pay any fees to participate, but do need to agree to either offer the two-nights for $50, or to provide an event promoting camping during the week. Already 300 campgrounds have signed up.

Listen to Russ and Tiña's new Internet program, Your RV Podcast. Click here to go to their Program Notes page. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lost in the woods! How a child can keep safe until help arrives

A game of hide and seek took on new meaning for one family while camping recently.

Two little girls, cousins aged 9 and 11, went missing from their Calabogie, Ontario, campground on August 4, wearing only pajamas and running shoes. They were playing hide and seek that evening, but soon found themselves out of range of their campsite.

An Ontario Provincial Police search crew began scouring the forest at 10 pm. Canine units and a helicopter crew joined the search party the following morning. Fortunately, the girls were found safe and sound around 1 pm the day after their disappearance.

For the full story, click here.

The 10 minute video below explains how a child can keep safe if they're ever lost in the woods. It was produced for the National Association for Search and Rescue by the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team and Alexander Video Productions in Glendora, California. Watch it with your children or grandchildren, and discuss things they should and should not do if they ever get lost while camping. It only takes a few minutes for a child to get lost in the forest. It also only takes a few minutes to teach them how to stay safe if that happens.

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