August 2012 News

Keeping the roads safe for our children in the back to school season

By Andrea Potter

school-road-safetySchool will be starting across BC in a couple of weeks, and it’s time for motorists to be mindful of school zone safety. School is a time for renewal; the catalyst for a season of new hopes, dreams and aspirations. Unfortunately, the busy back to school season often brings tragedy with children being hurt and killed by distracted driving. According to ICBC, on average there are 16,655 crashes in BC annually involving children aged 5-18 including child pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers.

The most frequently reported pedestrian accident resulting in injury or death occurs at crosswalks; and most child pedestrian injures occur in September and October.

Preventable.ca, a provincial non-profit organization dedicated to educating people on accident prevention, reports that on average, 200 children and youth die each year in BC from preventable injuries.  The most frequently reported pedestrian accident resulting in injury or death occurs at crosswalks; and most child pedestrian injuries occur in September and October.

Keep yourself and your children safe and be mindful of the rules that prevent injury:

  1. School zones are in effect from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.
  2. Playground zones are in effect from dawn to dusk daily.
  3. School zone speed limits are 30 km/hr.
  4. School zones are non-passing zones.
  5. School buses have the right of way, and passing on the left is prohibited.
  6. When a school bus has the flashing lights engaged, traffic in both directions must come to a complete stop.
  7. Pay extra attention to cars slowing in the lane beside you; they may be slowing for a crossing pedestrian.
  8. Don’t back up in a cross-walk.
  9. Don’t make U-turns.
  10. Obey traffic patrollers.

In addition to a proactive and safe driving strategy, it is important for parents and teachers to explain how to stay safe while commuting to school. School age children can participate actively in safe driving and safe commuting:

  1. Don’t contribute to distracted driving; be respectful to the task of the driver.
  2. Take the earbuds out and put the device (cell phone, mp3 player) down while walking to school – especially at busy intersections.
  3. If you are a passenger and the driver is participating in distracted behavior, take a firm stance to discourage it.
  4. When walking, use the inside part of the sidewalk. Use crosswalks and crossing lights.
  5. If taking a school bus, embark and disembark with surrounding traffic in mind. Don’t dart out into the street to catch the bus.

Accidents are acts of God or nature, but crashes and injuries are preventable. Picking up the pieces physically, mentally and financially after a car accident can be devastating to a family and unnecessary when the practice of safe driving and road safety procedures is in your control.

 


The Vilardell v Dunham case – the cost of access to justice for BC residents

By Michelle Ma

court-costsOn May 22, 2012 Justice McEwan of the B.C. Supreme Court issued a decision that will have a positive impact on access to justice for all B.C. residents.

The plaintiff, Monserrat Vilardell, and the defendant, Bruce Dunham, had battled in court regarding custody of their five-year-old daughter. Her mother wanted to relocate to Spain with the daughter. It was at the March 2009 custody trial that Vilardell applied to the Judge to be relieved of paying the court hearing fees imposed by the BC government for the use of a courtroom during a trial. Vilardell was a single mother with very little employment income raising her daughter with financial assistance from the father, Dunham.

Justice McEwan ruled that hearing fees are unconstitutional because they impede the public’s access to justice.

At the time of trial, court hearing fees followed an escalating scale ranging from $312 per day for a five day trial, to $416 per day for trials lasting 6 to 10 days, and for trials longer than 10 days $624 was payable per day. Hearing fees are even higher now. The present system is that no fees are payable for the first three days of trial, days 4 – 10 cost $500 per day and any days thereafter cost $800 per day. The BC government says the present system is revenue neutral.

The Attorney General of BC, the BC Law Society, the Canadian Bar Association (BC Branch) and the Trial Lawyers Association of BC were given permission to intervene in the trial to make submissions on the hearing fees issue. The BC Law Society later withdrew.

Justice McEwan ruled that hearing fees are unconstitutional because they impede the public’s access to justice.  Access to the superior courts is a fundamental premise of the constitutional arrangement of Canada, which cannot be materially hindered by anyone, including Parliament or the legislatures. Justice McEwen discussed the role of the courts in a democracy and stated that courts exist as a place “where questions of value matter, where individual voices can be heard, and where the deficiencies of bureaucratic and systematic modes of thinking may be carefully examined.”  In a marketplace society where everything is for sale, some things, such as access to a courtroom, cannot be for sale.

Quoting from What Money Can’t Buy, The Moral Limits of Markets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2012), Justice McEwan reiterated Michael J. Sandal’s observation:

At a time of rising inequality, the marketization of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives. We live and work and shop and play in different places. Our children go to different schools. You might call it the skyboxification of American life. It’s not good for democracy, nor is it a satisfying way to live. Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life. What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump up against one another, in the course of everyday life. For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.

The B.C. Attorney General has appealed the decision. We’ll keep you posted on developments in the case in future editions of the Klein Lawyers, e-news updates.

 


Learning to Drive Using Interactive Driving Technology

By Nancy Baye

interactive-driving“Hitting someone in a crosswalk or dying in a crash just means you can start the game over again….. providing a false sense of confidence.” – Kelly Calar

Seems that the world is becoming one big holodeck; but is virtual training a wise choice for new drivers?

DriveWise Driving School of BC uses driving simulators to enhance and reinforce the skills they teach, to prepare their students for risky driving situations and to offer them the opportunity of practicing without risk. Traditional classes and ten hours of on-road training remain in their curriculum.

Driving simulators, complete with steering wheel and peripheral screens, can recreate endless scenarios.

These include:

  • extreme weather conditions (a spin-out on black ice)
  • sudden environmental shifts like sun glare or immersion into the blackness of a tunnel
  • unpredictable behaviour from other drivers (running a red light)
  • technical skills like navigating a highway on-ramp
  • mechanical issues such as blowing a tire at high speed
  • and the rare unexpected scenario such as a deer leaping onto the road.

Add a pair of “drunk goggles” and simulators can offer a sobering depiction of impaired driving. DriveWise believes that the simulators teach valuable lessons to students; experienced drivers describe the recreated experiences as accurate.

On the other side of the argument, Young Drivers of Canada believes that simulators cannot replace the experience of real-life scenarios and that they are a bad idea for several reasons. Firstly, the experience is not real. Simulators, like video games, can create a false sense of confidence and security because there are no consequences. Kelly Calar, Regional Director at BC’s Young Drivers of Canada, comments, “Hitting someone in a crosswalk or dying in a crash just means you can start the game over again; technically you can replay the same scenario until you beat the system, providing a false sense of confidence.”

Finally, YDC deems that a simulator can’t help a student physically feel what it’s like behind the wheel.

Along similar lines, Drop it and Drive’s Karen Bowman feels that learning and respecting fundamental skills will ensure a safe driving career. She applauds the growing movement in the U. S. towards training new drivers on manual shift cars.

Ultimately, there is common ground where pro-simulator and anti-simulator philosophies intersect. Both schools of thought believe in a solid foundation of driving skills that include proactive training, a controlled and supervised environment, supportive coaching, time and experience behind the wheel, and collision avoidance techniques. The goals remain the same even when the approaches differ.

Since simulated training is used in addition to traditional methods, why not allow fledgling drivers onto the holodeck to practice virtually, and risk-free, before hitting the road?

Since simulated training is used in addition to traditional methods, why not allow fledgling drivers onto the holodeck to practice virtually, and risk-free, before hitting the road?

 


Johnson & Johnson to stop selling dangerous Transvaginal Mesh

By David Klein

tvm-class-action-klein-lyons

Klein Lawyers, has been contacted by dozens of women who were implanted with transvaginal mesh (TVM) kits and has filed a class action on their behalf. Transvaginal Mesh are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse which is a condition that occurs when the muscles supporting a woman’s pelvic organs weaken.

In June, 2012, Johnson & Johnson, the biggest manufacture and supplier of TMV kits, announced that it would stop selling the devices. The independent, non-profit consumer publication, Consumer Reports, reports that “thousands of women have reported infections, as well as painful, even disabling complications when the mesh shifted, shrank, or in some cases eroded through their vaginal tissues.”

According the Notice of Civil Claim filed by Klein Lawyers, prior to the Johnson & Johnson announcement, Transvaginal Mesh were promoted with exaggerated and misleading expectations as to safety and utility. The United States Federal Drug Agency and Health Canada have both issued public health statements expressing concern about the high rate of complications. David Klein, the lawyer leading the class action, adds that “the cessation of sales of this dangerous product is a welcome development.”

Transvaginal Mesh were promoted with exaggerated and misleading expectations as to safety and utility.

If you’re looking for a car accident lawyers in Vancouver, BC. call us today!