Safety Tips to Prevent Brain Injury

With the shorter days, cooler temperatures and wet winter weather comes slick road surfaces, low visibility and dangerous driving conditions. Drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists need to practice extra caution when out on the roads. With the ski season also on our doorstep, skiers and snowboarders need to remind themselves of the inherent safety risks involved in such winter sports.

We thought we’d take a moment to remind you of some very basic safety tips that can help prevent a traumatic brain injury, because too often we see the result of what happens when safety is compromised.  The information presented below should be familiar to most people. It intended as a reminder to take a common sense approach to living safely and keeping your loved ones safe.

Safety Basics for Drivers:image of car accident

  • Set a safe example for your children by always wearing a safety shoulder and lap seat belt.
  • Use car seats or boosters which are CSA approved and appropriate for the size and age of the child.
  • Always decline alcohol when you know you will be driving
  • Always decline rides from anyone who you know or suspect has been drinking alcohol.
  • Speed does kill. Obey posted speed limits.
  • Watch for pedestrians at all times.
  • Make eye contact with pedestrians to ensure that they have seen you.
  • Drive slowly near pedestrians and give them the right of way.
  • Elderly drivers should be encouraged to reduce the amount that they drive, and should not drive in poor weather or at night. Offer to drive them when possible.

It is difficult to judge ourselves and acknowledge when we are no longer able to drive safely. When it is apparent that an elderly driver should hand in his/her license, consider discussing the matter with the driver and his/her family doctor. It is better to stop driving 5 years too early than a second too late.

For more safe driving tips and regulations visit the Transport Canada website.

Safety Basics for Pedestrians:Walk Sign at Cross Walk

  • Use sidewalks whenever possible.
  • If a sidewalk is not available, walk facing oncoming traffic.
  • Cross only at intersections and crosswalks.
  • Never cross the street between parked cars.
  • Check for traffic by looking left, right and left again before crossing a street.
  • Walk only where you are visible to drivers.
  • Always wear reflective clothing at night.
  • Never assume that drivers can see you or know what you are planning to do.

For pedestrian safety tips and statistics on high risk pedestrian accident areas go to the Vancouver Police Department website.


Safety Basics for Cyclists:image of cyclist

  • Always come to a full stop at stop signs. Not stopping is illegal under BC’s Motor Vehicle Act, and you can be fined $167.
  • Be visible. Wear brightly coloured clothing so drivers can see you and, if possible, avoid cycling at night.
  • Make eye contact with other road users. Never assume that another cyclist, driver, or pedestrian sees you.
  • Take care when cycling past parked cars to leave enough space for drivers and passengers to open car doors.
  • In traffic, cycle safely and predictably. Signal before turning, and learn the skills needed to control your bike.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing the street, and to buses when they are leaving a stop.
  • Do not ride on sidewalks or crosswalks unless signs posted allow you to. Walk your bicycle on a sidewalk or a crosswalk.
  • Maintain your bike in good working order. Equip it with a warning bell and use front and rear lights on your bicycle after dark, as required by law.
  • Helmets must be worn according to Provincial Law, and safety vests or reflective clothing are recommended.
  • Do not wear headphones that cover both ears.
  • Take extra care when it’s wet because it will take longer for your brakes to grip and stop your bike.
  • Ride defensively. Watch out for cars.
  • Children cyclists:
    • Children should be old enough (age 7 or 8 ) to fully understand how to ride safely before they are taught to ride a bicycle.
    • A child should be able to straddle a bike with both feet on the ground. Be sure that the bike is the proper size.
    • A child’s hands should be sufficiently large strong to use the levers of a hand brake. Until then, children should only use bikes equipped with back pedal, or coaster brakes.
    • A child must always wear a properly fitted helmet when cycling even short distances.
    • The helmet should be worn low over the forehead just above the eyebrows. It should sit flat on the head, centered above the ears. Ensure that the helmet stays firmly in place by tightening the chinstrap and adjusting the padding.
    • Children should never ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or motorcycles, even with a helmet.
    • Children should learn about and obey all traffic signals and signage.
    • Practice what you teach to be a good role model for children – Always wear a protective helmet, and obey the rules of the road.

More safety cycling safety tips and regulations available at the City of Vancouver website.

Safety Basics for Skiers and Snowboarders:
Image of snowboarder doing a jump

  • Get fit. You will have more control and enjoy skiing more if you are physically fit.
  • Always wear a properly adjusted helmet.
  • Wear proper equipment and have your bindings adjusted correctly.
  • Keep sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more safe and fun when you can see.
  • Take lessons. The quickest way to become a good skier or snowboarder and prevent injury is to take lessons from a qualified instructor.
  • Begin each run slowly and be aware of the snow conditions. Firmer snow makes skiing hard and fast.
  • Keep aware of skiers and snowboarders above and below you. Keeping injury free requires a mental and physical presence.
  • If you accidentally end up on a run that exceeds your ability, side step to a safer area.
  • If you’re tired, stop.
  • Follow the seven safety rules of the slopes:
  1. Always stay in control.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
  3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
  5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
  7. Know how to use the lifts safely.

For more tips on ski and snowboard safety visit the Canada Safety Council website.



Safe Driving – Transport Canada

Cyclist Safety – City of Vancouver

Pedestrian Safety – Vancouver Police Department

Safety on the Slopes – Canada Safety Council

Head Injury Prevention

Injured while jaywalking – who is at fault? Pedestrian or Driver?

Jaywalking. We all do it on occasion.

Jaywalking – We walk across a roadway not at an intersection — we “jaywalk.” Most times it is generally safe to do this, there are no consequences to anyone, and we go on our way without thinking too much about what had just happened.

But what happens if a collision occurs?

If a pedestrian is injured after being struck by a car while jaywalking, ICBC will almost always tell you it’s your fault.
But the reality is that the courts do not necessarily split liability that way.

At Brain & Injury Law (Webster & Associates), we have had many clients who were hit by vehicles when they tried to walk across a roadway. Often the injuries are very serious. Sometimes the pedestrian is a child who darts onto a road to chase a ball. Sometimes the pedestrian is intoxicated or ill and not paying careful attention when the collision occurs. Often the results are tragic. However, even if the pedestrian did not pay proper attention and contributed to the collision, this may not be the end of the issue.

The courts require motorists to drive cautiously and keep a lookout for pedestrians, especially for those who may be intoxicated or impaired, or for individuals such as young children, who may not be able to fully look out for their own interests. Even a completely competent adult may not be 100% at fault if the driver (who was paying proper attention) could have stopped in time to avoid a collision.

In a very recent case, called Murdoch v. Biggers, 2012 BCSC 747, a 53 year old woman was hit while running to catch a bus. Even though the plaintiff acted recklessly when running across a Victoria street against a red light, the court found that the driver of the vehicle that struck her bore some of the responsibility. If the driver had kept a better lookout the collision would have been avoided. The court awarded the plaintiff 25% of the value of her injuries.

If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured while jaywalking call us to see whether we can assist you.

Contact us today.

Tel: 604.713.8030
Toll free: 1.877.873.0699

New technology aims to get TBI survivors back in the driver’s seat

For many people, driving represents freedom and independence. For survivors of traumatic brain injuries driving has been identified as a key component of achieving autonomy and re-integration into the community. Unfortunately, many TBI survivors (and indeed people with various disabilities) have residual cognitive impairments that impact their ability to drive safely and defensively, among other activities. Such impairments can affect:

  • Visual scanning
  • Spatial perception
  • Attention focusing
  • Problem solving
  • Self-awareness of individual shortcomings and driving abilities (anosognosia)

While many technologies help the physically disabled drive, no technology exists to help drivers overcome the above cognitive impairments to enable safe driving… until now.

In recent months, the Shepherd Centre assistive technology team, the Georgia Tech Sonification Laboratory, and Centrafuse™ have collectively developed an in-vehicle assistive technology (IVAT) – an in-dash, touch screen computer system that uses driver interaction and positive reinforcement to improve and sustain behaviours that are known to increase driver safety.

The use of this type of technology stems from a key observation made by researchers that TBI survivors tend to be better able to remain focused on the driving task in the presence of the evaluator than when driving solo.

In order to replicate the experience of driving with an evaluator, the Shepherd Center team designed a device they called the Electronic Driving Coach (EDC), a three-button box that rests on the driver console. Each of the buttons is labelled to match the three tasks that an individual needs to perform in order to be a safe driver: mirror scanning, speed maintenance, and space monitoring. Every time the individual noticed himself practicing one of these tasks, he or she was to push the corresponding button. The EDC would then give the driver an auditory positive feedback. The researchers found that

“After 3, 6, and 12-month re-evaluations, the individual’s driving skills have been rehabilitated to a much safer level as evidenced by continued evaluations and the discontinuation of traffic violations”

The researchers recognize the limitations posed by the physical in-dash box, and are continuing to evaluate IVAT in both simulators and on-road vehicles with the hope that this technology will not only help TBI survivors, but also other groups of cognitively disabled peoples.

To find out more about driving after a traumatic brain injury, click here.

Read the full, original article here:
“In-Vehicle Assistive Technology (IVAT) for Drivers Who Have Survived a Traumatic Brain Injury” By J. Olsheski, B. Walker, and  J. McCloud

Driving After Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Physical disabilities and cognitive impairment are the main reasons that an individual may be unable to drive after a traumatic brain injury.

Doctors are required to inform the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles that a person has a health condition which impairs their ability to drive. However, this does not mean a person will never drive again. Nonetheless, individuals that have sustained serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) should not drive unless their doctor tells them it is safe to do so.

Some of the factors that affect the likelihood that a TBI survivor will eventually be able to drive include:

  • Age (Younger TBI survivors are more likely to recover than older ones.)
  • Mental outlook and effort in recovery
  • Support team, including his or her doctors, therapists, family and friends (strong, reliable support teams aid recovery.)
  • The severity of the primary injury and the resulting complications
  • Whether or not the individual had driving experience before the injury (prior driving experience makes re-learning driving easier.)

Evaluating Individual’s Driving Ability
Determining whether a person with an acquired brain injury can safely drive again involves a number of professionals and assessments, including: medical or neurophysical exams, visual tests, and active driving tests (simulated or on-road).

Getting Back on the Road, in British Columbia
In British Columbia, once the survivor, their doctor, and/or healthcare team are confident in their ability to drive safely, the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) determines the legality of driving – usually authorized testing is all that is required.

Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV)
The OSMV is a BC provincial agency that is in charge of road safety and driver behaviour. The OSMV reviews information from the medical community, law enforcement agencies, and Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) licensing when making decisions about a driver’s license.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles may require a driver to take a vision test, a functional driving assessment, a medical and/or other evaluation, in order to help determine whether they are able to drive safely. These may include:

  1. Driver Medical Examination (DME)
    The driver’s doctor must conduct a driver medical examination at the request of the OSMV and submit a completed assessment form to the OSMV
  2. Functional Driving Assessment
    The driver may be asked to complete one of these two assessments:
  • Driver Rehab Assessment
    • For persons who are seen as being likely to drive safely again after an illness or injury
    • The goal is to help the individual to get driving again by offering assessments, lessons, strategies and vehicle modification, if necessary
    • This assessment may be the best one for persons with a brain injury
    • Community Therapists
      Unlike other services which are heavily computerized and focus on a rigid “pass/fail” methodology with little or no opportunity for training, the Community Therapists methodology focuses on the assessment of the client’s rehabilitation potential to return to driving. Where appropriate, clients are offered a comprehensive driver rehabilitation program to facilitate a return to this vital daily activity. For more information about Community Therapists, visit their website.
  • DriveABLE
    • Assessment involves an in-clinic perceptual and cognitive assessment and may be followed by an on-road evaluation
    • Rehabilitation and compensatory strategies are not addressed
    • Not appropriate for those with visual or physical impairment
    • Is best for persons with progressive cognitive conditions and impairments
    • For more information about DriveABLE visit their website.

Where can I get a functional driver assessment?

  • For information about driver rehabilitation programs in British Columbia, visit the website.
  • Do an OT search through BC Society of Occupational Therapists and select “Driver Rehab Assessment”

How long does the whole process take?
The entire process can take a significant amount of time. The duration depends on the individual’s injury as well as the activity of the groups involved – healthcare team, driver rehab centre, OSMV, licensing.

How much does it cost?

  • You may need to pay for the cost of the assessment yourself. The cost can usually be submitted as a medical expense on your income tax return.
  • If you have a claim against a third party, speak to your lawyer or call Workers Compensation Board if it covers your claim.
  • Functional Driving Assessments centres set their own fees
  • Funding may be available from third-party funders (e.g. ICBC, WorkSafe BC) and extended health plans, or through OSMV.

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