Do you really need winter tires? It’s absolutely ‘crucial’, expert says

Do you really need winter tires? It’s absolutely ‘crucial’, expert says

Every year when temperature starts the drop and snow starts to fall, the winter tires debate springs up. From questions about when to put them on, to discussions about their cost versus road safety, consensus on the winter tire argument never seems to happen.

Each province has varying regulations and recommendation for winter tires. In Quebec, according to the provincial Highway Safety Code, all drivers must have winter tires on from December 15 to March 15 inclusively. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $300.

In Ontario, for example, there isn’t specific legislation around winter tires but you can save on your insurance premium if you use them. According to the Ontario Ministry of Financewinter tires that are in good condition can shorten braking distances by as much as 25 per cent.

Although regulations differ across the country, insurance companies and driving experts alike agree that putting winter tires on your car, no matter where you live Canada or the vehicle you drive, is imperative for winter road safety.

“Many people think winter tires are only important when driving in snowy or icy conditions but they also help with handling, maneuverability and braking in cold weather,” Kaitlynn Furse, public relations manager, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) said in a statement.

According to Andrew Comrie-Picard, a BFGoodrich ambassador, professional racer driver and stunt driver for film and television shows such as Top Gear USA and NCIS New Orleans, it’s “crucial” that every driver uses winter tires in below freezing temperatures, even if you have an all-wheel drive of four-wheel drive vehicle.

“Any tire is developed and optimized for a certain type of service use, and the conditions that we see in Canada are some of the most extreme winter conditions in the whole world,” Comrie-Picard said. “In the winter, all an all-wheel drive car will do is get you to the accident faster because while four driving wheels help you accelerate forward, they don’t help you stop any faster.”

Despite expert, insurance and government commentary on the importance of winter tires, drivers still have doubts and criticism about these seasonal products.

Why you need them

The importance of winter tires comes down the tires’ ability to grip onto the road and perform at lower temperature, so you can brake and steer effectively in the winter season. Contrary to popular belief, the necessity of winter tires is related to temperature more so than precipitation.

Winter tires…are optimized to stay flexible, and to maintain the chemical and mechanical grip on the road at lower temperatures,” Comrie-Picard said. “[Winter tires] maintain their grip for breaking, for steering and also for accelerating in those low temperatures.”

How they’re different

Winter tires contain a special rubber compound that keeps tires soft. Due to their flexibility, winter tires are specifically manufactured to ensure that tread blocks retain their structure with the softer compound.

Winter tires also have small edges or cuts that act as pressurizers on the surface. They pick up a little bit of snow, which grips onto more snow that is on the road.

The mechanics of a winter tire might make sense, but the most popular complaint that drivers have is the cost of these specialty tires. 

Why the alternatives wont’ work

Since the cost of winter tires is so high, some drivers opt for used tires as a way to save a few dollars, but professionals like Comrie-Picard are strongly against it.

A used tire, by definition, is going to have less than brand new tread depth, you’re already compromising some traction and some safety,” Comrie-Picard said.

Pedestrians vs Drivers

I was a bit taken aback after reading a discussion on Twitter the other day. The conversation was between a driver and a pedestrian who seemed to hold opposite points of view. The pedestrian felt that they should not have to wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight to be seen at night. The driver countered with the warning that if you can’t be seen, you can’t be given the right of way. Wearing protective clothing was a wise thing to do.

Our rule book, the Motor Vehicle Act, defines how drivers and pedestrians must relate to each other when they use our highways.

If there is a sidewalk on one or both sides of the highway, a pedestrian must not walk on the roadway. They may choose not to use the sidewalk if they walk on the shoulder. This exception would allow a pedestrian to walk on the side of the highway, outside of the path of vehicles, if the sidewalk is on the opposite side of the road for their chosen direction of travel.

Depending on how far you are walking, it may make sense to cross over and use the sidewalk when there is only one. Chances are greater that drivers will expect you to be there.

If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the highway, using the shoulder or extreme left side of the roadway.

Here is where I pause. The law says that pedestrians may use the extreme left side of the roadway in some circumstances. This is a place where I dare say that drivers might feel that they are entitled and pedestrians are not. These drivers may be wrong, but in a collision they win. As a pedestrian, do you want to be dead right?

When we reach an intersection pedestrians in crosswalks who are following the directions of the appropriate traffic signal must be granted the right of way to cross. If they entered the crosswalk lawfully when signals are present, they have right of way to complete the crossing, even after the signals have changed.

Strangely, many people do not consider a T to be an intersection while they will readily agree that an X is. Either configuration is a proper intersection.

If a pedestrian is crossing the highway anywhere other than in a crosswalk, they must yield the right of way to vehicles. In fact, municipal bylaws may prohibit crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.

Crosswalks may be marked or unmarked, but they always exist at intersections.

If it is necessary, the rules say that drivers must sound their vehicle’s horn to warn pedestrians of their approach.

Ultimately, a driver must always exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian who is on the highway.

It’s not all one sided. Pedestrians have duties toward drivers too.

You must not walk or run out in front of a vehicle when it is not practical for the driver to yield the right of way. Remember this when you step into a crosswalk. If there are lines painted on the roadway, they will not protect you from your bad decision.

Pedestrians cannot be on the roadway to hitch-hike (except in case of an emergency), solicit business or employment from the occupant of a vehicle. Hitch-hiking from the shoulder is permitted, except on freeways.

Having said all of this, we make mistakes, even when we are trying very hard not to. These rules are an effort to minimize mistakes.

When it makes sense, we wear all sorts of protective clothing and use other safety tools. I was never without my yellow jacket with reflective stripes and a flashlight when I worked on the road at night. Just because you can see the driver does not mean that the driver can see you.

Link:

  • Articles on this site related to pedestrians

Maintaining a Safe Following Distance

I try very hard to maintain at least a two second following distance when I drive. This can sometimes be quite a challenge as it often seems that I am the only driver present that thinks this is a worthwhile accomplishment. In fact, other drivers seem bent on preventing this because they seem quite happy filling up any available space and forcing me to constantly adjust my position.

Beginning at page 72, the Learn to Drive Smart guide devotes some explanation to Space Margins. It explains the Two Second Rule and discusses braking distances. It also sprinkles advice throughout chapter 6, Sharing the Road. It’s a critical concept for new drivers to learn and accomplished drivers to retain and follow.

I’ve already mentioned maintaining my following distance but I also have to consider the distance from vehicles following me and minimizing the time that I spend beside other vehicles. Leaving yourself an “out” in case something happens is a never ending task.

Dealing with drivers in front of you is not that difficult. Simply slow slightly to create the necessary gap again and then resume the speed of traffic. Yes, you may find yourself doing this continually, and it is annoying, but better safe than sorry!

The same method works for vehicles beside you. If they are not passing, adjust your position to be ahead or behind them and you have regained the desired space margin.

When someone seems bent on tailgating you, the situation can be more difficult. Some drivers will purposely attempt to bulldoze you out of the way so that they can do it again to the next vehicle in front of them.

On multi-lane road, it is often as simple as slowing slightly and letting the driver behind you decide to pass on their own.

Of course, this assumes that you are in the right hand lane. If you aren’t, you should be. Move over and let the driver by, even if you are doing the speed limit.

This becomes more difficult when there is only one lane of travel for each direction. Slowing down when there is an opportunity for the vehicle behind to pass may work. If it doesn’t, signal, pull over to the right and stop. Driving on the shoulder is illegal. After the vehicle passes by, pull back onto the highway and continue on your way.

Turning on your hazard flashers or flashing your brake lights might not be a good idea. The driver behind may not be paying much attention and could decide to ignore the brake lights. This could lead to a collision.

Whatever you do, don’t decide to teach the other driver a lesson by stomping on your brakes! One bad behaviour does not justify another.

In either case, it’s time for you to leave more space in front because you are now making decisions for two drivers. More space means more time. You can brake more slowly if something happens in front of you, giving the driver behind more time to react as well.

In 2015, 2,400 traffic tickets were written to drivers for following too closely. It appears to me that this behaviour is as common as speeding, yet in comparison, more than 160,000 speed related tickets were issued that year. It would be interesting to know what portion of the 2,400 tickets were written in response to collisions and how many were the result of preventive enforcement.

It’s Still Driveable

I saw many things over the two decades that I spent in full time traffic law enforcement. Some of those things left me shaking my head wondering why the driver ever chose to leave the driveway! If you don’t value the life of other road users, surely you value your own.

During an evening shift I was met by a car whose driver failed to dim the headlights. A glance in the mirror as I passed by also revealed a lack of rear lights. After stopping the driver and examining the vehicle I determined that the headlights only worked on high beam and none of the rear lights worked at all.

The car had been involved in a rear end collision and the driver was waiting for ICBC to fix it. It was their only vehicle and the family was returning from a non-essential trip that involved a 4 hour drive each way. At that time of year there were about 8 hours of daylight, so the outing could not have been conducted exclusively during the daylight.

I would often meet the commercial vehicle inspector and we would work together at a brake check location. An examination of a farm truck determined that only one it’s air brakes was properly adjusted. The driver was ticketed and ordered to adjust his brakes properly before proceeding.

He stomped away but soon returned. He did not have the necessary wrench to adjust the brakes with. Would one of the truckers who had stopped to check their brakes loan one to him?

After another ten minutes or so had passed, the driver was back again. Which way do you turn the brake adjuster was the question this time. The trucker who loaned him the wrench rolled his eyes, took him in hand and showed him how to adjust his brakes too.

Speeding on it’s own can be bad enough, but throw in willful blindness and the results could be tragic. One such driver earned a tow truck ride home. When he was producing his documents to me a scan of the vehicle interior revealed that he had covered the brake warning light on his dash with black electrical tape. The light was too bright when he drove at night he explained to me.

Checking the tire tread when approaching a vehicle became almost a reflex action for me. The tread wear bars that tires are equipped with these days mean that I don’t even have to use a tread depth gauge when winter tires are not required. If they are showing in two adjacent grooves, the tire is considered to be worn out.

Occasionally I would discover a vehicle with a wheel alignment problem. The majority of the tire tread looked just fine, but one shoulder of the tire would be worn so badly that the cords were showing through the rubber. That’s definitely an out of service condition.

I actually met a graduate from the Red Green School of Mechanics one day. His windshield wipers had stopped working so he had tied a thin rope to the driver’s wiper, passed it through both vent windows to lay on the dash and then tied the other end to the passenger’s wiper. If it ever rained, he just had his passenger pull the rope to operate the wipers.

Do we even want to know what happened when it rained and he was alone?

My preferred method of dealing with drivers like these was the Notice & Order. There were three levels of action that could be chosen, depending on the severity of the defects found.

A #3 was the least intrusive. It simply asked that you repair the noted defects and advise the police you had done so.

The #2 had more teeth. The driver was required to take the vehicle to a Designated Inspection Facility promply and pass inspection within 30 days. If the pass was not obtained within that time, the vehicle could no longer be driven or parked on a highway.

A #1 was for the vehicles that were truly dangerous. From the moment it was issued until inspection was passed, the vehicle could not be driven or parked on a highway and had to be moved by tow truck or on a trailer.

BC Court of Appeal Upholds Across The Board Mitigation of Damages Reduction

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were published this week upholding a trial judge’s 50% reduction of damages in a personal injury lawsuit for failure to mitigate.

In the recent case (Mullens v. Toor) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2012 collision caused by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff suffered physical and psychological injuries and the Court concluded the Plaintiff’s recovery could have been improved had she more diligently followed medical advice.  As a result the Plaintiff’s assessed non-pecuniary damages, loss of earning capacity, loss of pension and deferred profit sharing were reduced by 50% and the future cost of care by 10%.

The Plaintiff appealed arguing the failure to mitigate reduction should only apply to her non-pecuniary damages.  The BC Court of Appeal disagreed.  In upholding the trial result the Court provided the following reasons:

[54]         Failure to mitigate is a positive allegation that should be pleaded and argued at trial:  Hosking v. Mahoney, 2010 BCCA 465 at para. 34.  Ms. Mullens thus submits that the judge erred in deciding issues on a basis that was not specifically pleaded or argued before him and properly should have invited counsel to address the claim: see e.g., Carmel Pharmacy Ltd. v. Tri City Contracting (B.C.) Ltd., 2014 BCSC 337 at para. 2.

[55]         In their response to civil claim the respondents pleaded as follows:

The Plaintiff has failed to follow medical advice with respect to treatment or exercise.

The Plaintiff could, by the exercise of due diligence, have reduced the amount of any alleged injury, loss, damage or expense, and the Defendants say that the Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages.

[56]         The respondents say it is a mischaracterization to say that they did not argue for a reduction across all heads of damages because of a failure to mitigate.  A fair reading of the written submissions and the evidence as presented at trial is that mitigation was a key issue for all of Ms. Mullens’ claims.

[57]         In my view, the respondents’ pleading is clearly not deficient.  In Saadati v. Moorhead, 2017 SCC 28 at paras. 10‑12, Brown J., for the Court, found that a claim for “general damages for pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity past, present and future, loss of opportunity, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of physical heath…” was sufficiently broad to put the opposing party on notice that the claim encompassed mental injury.  Here the pleading is explicit.

[58]         Much of the evidence at trial, both in direct and cross-examination, concerned matters related to the mitigation issue pleaded: the appellant’s failure to return to work, her delay in taking medication, not seeking psychiatric treatment, not having consistent treatment, and the delay in obtaining recommended treatment being a negative factor in her prognosis.  These issues were canvassed by both the expert witnesses (Dr. Zoffman, Dr. Finlayson, Dr. Robertson, Dr. Maloon) and lay witnesses (Mr. Gill, Ms. Macpherson, Ms. Percy and Mr. Towsley).

[59]         The issue of mitigation was both specifically pleaded and extensively explored at trial.  Experts testified to the mental health benefits of returning to work and the benefits of comprehensive psychiatric treatment.  Counsel raised a failure to mitigate in general terms during closing submissions, and made specific reference to the benefits of returning to work, such as improved mental heath.  The specific arguments made with respect to a failure to mitigate past loss of income were logically connected to the other heads of damage claimed.

[60]         In my view, it cannot fairly be said that mitigation was not an issue properly before the court with respect to all of Ms. Mullens’ claims for damages.  I see no merit to this ground of appeal.

 

Liz Weston: 4 Steps to Disaster Proof Your Finances

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mother Nature could be excused if she wondered, “How much more prompting do you people need?”

This year delivered epic wildfires, devastating hurricanes, massive floods and some pretty horrific earthquakes. Yet many people still haven’t taken a few critical steps to protect their financial lives from such disasters.

Consider setting aside a few hours this week to take care of these four essential tasks:

REVIEW (AND BOOST) YOUR INSURANCE

Most renters don’t have renters insurance, but they need it since their landlord’s policy won’t cover their stuff.

The vast majority of homeowners do have homeowners insurance, but often not enough especially if their policies haven’t been updated regularly to reflect rising construction costs or improvements. Ask your insurer to rerun the numbers to ensure you have enough coverage to rebuild your home completely. United Policyholders, an advocacy group for insurance customers, recommends adding as much “extended replacement cost” coverage as you can afford. This add-on boosts the policy’s coverage limits by 20 per cent to 100 per cent if costs run unexpectedly high, as often happens in disaster zones when rebuilding costs soar. Another smart addition: “building code upgrade” or “ordinance coverage” to pay the higher costs of rebuilding to current standards.

Other key points:

_Homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover floods or earthquakes, so consider buying those policies if your home may be at risk.

_You want “replacement cost ” coverage for your home’s contents, not “actual cash value,” which will pay only pennies on the dollar to replace your stuff.

_You may need extra coverage if you have certain valuables, such as jewelry, collectibles, guns or computers and other home office equipment. Policies typically limit coverage to $1,500 to $2,500 for each of these categories.

_Opt for generous “loss of use” or “additional living expenses” coverage, since that will pay your rent and other costs while your home is uninhabitable. United Policyholders recommends having at least two years’ worth of additional living expense coverage.

If you’re concerned your coverage limits are too low and your insurer won’t let you upgrade, shop around for a better provider.

SCAN IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS INTO THE CLOUD

You may be away from home or not have time to grab your bug-out bag in your scramble out the door. Keeping documents or copies off site is one solution, but anything in your safe deposit box or lawyer’s office could be compromised by the same disaster that wrecks your home, says financial planner Leonard Wright, who evacuated his family from their San Diego-area home during the 2007 wildfires.

“You want it out of the area,” says Wright, a certified public accountant and personal financial specialist who contributed to a detailed disaster guide that the American Institute of CPAs created with the American Red Cross and National Endowment for Financial Education.

Wright uses DropBox, a file sharing and storage site, for family pictures and Box, a similar site known for its security features, for financial documents. Other cloud services include Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud and Google Drive. Documents can be scanned with mobile apps or desktop scanners, which typically cost $200 to $400.

Disaster survivors say the following documents can be particularly important, according to United Policyholders:

_Insurance policies

_Passports and birth certificates

_Family photos

_Tax and loan documents

_Stocks and bonds

_Wills and trusts

_Home blueprints or surveys, if you have them

DO A QUICK HOME INVENTORY

This can be as simple as walking around your home, inside and out, recording your stuff with your smartphone’s video camera and storing that video in the cloud. Or you can use an app, such as Sortly, MyStuff2 or United Policyholders’ UPHelp Home Inventory to photograph and itemize your possessions.

ADD EMERGENCY ACCESS TO YOUR PASSWORDS

Security experts recommend using a password manager to securely store unique, hard-to-remember logins for each account while only having to remember one master password. Password managers also can help a trusted person to take over for you if you die or become incapacitated _ but that person needs access to the account. Some password managers let you offer emergency access to others. Another option is to keep copies of your passwords, or your master password, with your estate planning documents. Services such as Everplans and Fidelity Investments’ FidSafe offer online storage with secure sharing options.

Finally, make a note on your calendar to do all this again next year so all your important documents are kept up to date. Investing a few hours each year can pay off in an easier recovery if disaster ever strikes, and peace of mind even if it doesn’t.

_______

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet .

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