by Cedric Hughes, Barrister & Solicitor with weekly contributions from Leslie McGuffin, LL.B.

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New Ideas for the New Year

Traditionally the new year is an occasion for reflection, resolution, and prediction. But the “new” in New Year should also prompt renewed openness to change or at least to contemplation of new ideas. In short, it’s a great time for brainstorming. Some noteworthy “new” ideas include:

Art and the Automobile

Searching the internet for “automobile or car in fine art” retrieves over two million links to images of automobiles created by painters, printmakers, sculptors, illustrators and photographers. The subject ‘auto’ may be against a flat backdrop or in a realistic setting—a mechanical “still life.”
One wonders if there exists an automobile model that has not inspired at least one artist somewhere to render its image in whole or in part. Such a voluminous but also uniform artistic response proclaims veneration for the thing itself. We are dazzled by the complex creation that is the automobile.

What is Inattention Blindness?

A letter to the editor in the December 13 th edition of the Vancouver Sun newspaper proposed that the media response to the recent HOV lane stall tragedy—the focus on illegal use of HOV lanes—diverted “attention from the actual causes of such crashes,” the perceptual phenomenon called “inattention blindness”. The writer asserted that most drivers do not appreciate how long it takes to recognize unexpected hazards “even when …looking right at them.”

Roadside Danger and the Moth Effect

Roadsides are dangerous places. According to a recent UK statistic, “ one in ten motorway crashes involve vehicles parked on the hard shoulder.” Emergency vehicles and personnel—police, fire fighters and paramedics—are particularly at risk.
The president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, Brian Adkin, commenting a few years ago on the Ontario Emergency Vehicle Safety Act 2002 said, "Many motorists don't recognize the high risk front-line police officers can face during routine traffic stops…We don't necessarily think of pulling off to the side of the highway to issue a speeding ticket or to investigate an accident as a dangerous part of an officer's job.” But it is.

Death in the HOV Lane

On a recent late-November Saturday morning, a Toyota minivan stopped in the eastbound High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on Highway 1 near United Boulevard in Coquitlam. A passersby later reported seeing smoke inside the passenger compartment. On this typically busy stretch of highway, the shoulder (left of the HOV lane) is wide enough for a vehicle to at least pull over out of the lane altogether. But reportedly that is not what happened.

It is not clear how much time elapsed between when the minivan stopped and when it was rear ended by a BMW SUV driven by a 26-year-old driver with no passengers. His vehicle spun out 90° and was immediately hit by the car behind driven by a 35-year-old woman with no passengers.

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