What Are My Duties as a Driver?
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.
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.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites. You are welcome to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and express your opinion.