#HeadsUp, Saskatchewan – Distracted driving is always a bad call

Picking up your phone while driving to let your friend know you’re running late? That’s a bad call. It’s illegal, dangerous and may cost you – there might be a police officer watching from a bus or an unmarked vehicle in the next lane, and the fines and penalties are stiff.

Distracted driving is the focus of October’s Traffic Safety Spotlight. Throughout the month, police across the province will be using a variety of tactics to catch distracted drivers in the act, including surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers on the sidewalks. Regina Police Service is running “Operation Bus Cop,” with eagle-eye officers watching for distracted drivers from city buses.

Police will be on the lookout for people using handheld cellphones to talk, text, email or browse online while driving. But distracted driving isn’t just limited to using a phone.

“Drivers are still not getting the message. If you are in control of a vehicle, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous,” said Superintendent Brian Shalovelo, Saskatoon Police Service. “If someone says they were picking up a CD on the floor when they lost control, that is distracted driving. Changing the radio station, smoking a cigarette, reading a map or your mail – these are all examples of how a driver can be distracted. We’ve even seen people watching Netflix while driving.”

“The average car or lightweight truck weighs over four thousand pounds,” said Chief Evan Bray, Regina Police Service. “That is two tons of comfort and convenience to get you to your destination…or it’s two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or someone else’s, if you lose control. Is there any text message, photo or music selection in the world that could be more important than a human life?”

“The message is simple: put the phone away and encourage your friends and family to do the same,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice President of the Auto Fund. “Put it out of reach in your glove box, zip it up in your purse and put it in the back seat, or mount it on your dashboard and use it hands-free if you’re an experienced driver. We all have a responsibility to make safe choices behind the wheel.”

It is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving. This means that, even if you’re simply holding a cellphone and not using it, you can still be charged. Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have the vehicle they are driving seized for seven days. Experienced drivers can only use a cellphone if it is mounted to their visor or dash, and they use the voice-activated or one-touch functions. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $280 fine and four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program.

Everyone can drive free of distractions by following these tips:

  • Don’t use your cellphone, even at a red light – the law applies whenever you’re in control of a vehicle.
  • Put the phone away – silence your phone and put it out of reach before getting behind the wheel.
  • Focus on driving – limit distractions like eating, grooming, or having emotional conversations with passengers.
  • Have a designated texter – let your passenger reply to messages and operate the radio and GPS.
  • Pull over first – if you need to make a call or take care of children or pets, don’t do it while driving.
  • Call out friends and family – if you see them using a cellphone behind the wheel, speak up! It may save their life.

Visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca to learn more about distracted driving and the strengthened cellphone legislation.

August Traffic Safety Spotlight Results: Impaired driving

During the August spotlight on impaired driving police reported 390 impaired driving offences, including 334 Criminal Code charges.

Police also reported:

  • 4,243 tickets for speeding or aggressive driving
  • 360 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child restraint
  • 459 tickets for distracted driving (including 342 for cellphone use)

Using a toonie to check your winter tire tread

This video first ran in December 2011.

We asked our viewers to send us their questions and concerns about winter tires, and we posed those to tire expert Paul Luciano, co-owner of CP Tire in Carleton Place, Ontario. Janet from Alberta asks, “How long will my treads last, and is there a way I can test them?”

Paul Luciano: About average (mileage) is 18,000 to 25,000 kilometers a year and I would say three good seasons. You’ll probably still have tread remaining on those snow tires, but they won’t have the same traction as they did when they were new.

This tire measures about 60 percent worn and less than 6/32s of tread. An all-season tire brand new will come with approximately 11/32s to 13/32s, depending on the manufacturer. The tread depth is that much. In order for this tire to pass the safety, we require 4/32s of tread above the wear bar which is right here. This tire would actually pass a safety if it had an even 4/32s of tread across the face of the tire. But, like all tires, the bottom section of the tread lug is significantly harder than the top. When you get down to this depth of tread, although still serviceable in dry weather, it’s not so good in wet or cold.

Not everyone carries around a professional device for measuring tread depth, but there is a simple trick most of us can use with a good old toonie.

Paul Luciano: 12/32s of rubber, if you’re testing the depth of your new tires, should reach the paws of the polar bear on the toonie. At 50 percent wear, which is approximately 7/32s of tread, if you put your toonie into the tire tread, at 50 percent will cover the nickel part of the toonie. At 4/32s of tread, at which the tire would not be very good in winter driving although would still have tread on it, would just partially cover the letters of the word “dollars” on your toonie.

 

We Need Another Sign

I live near a section of Highway 19 that travels through a built up area. The highway changes from 4 lanes divided by a barrier with a posted speed of 90 km/h to 4 lanes that is not divided posted at 60 km/h. So few people slow to 60 that I often hear long time locals asking new residents if they have gotten a speeding ticket there yet.

Before the median barrier was installed, this 60 km/h zone was part of the highest collision zone policed by Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services.

Nanoose Bay Highway Cam

A couple of afternoons ago there was a two vehicle collision in that 60 zone that blocked northbound traffic. I posted details on Facebook in a local resident’s group as there was no path around the collision scene and traffic would be held up until emergency services dealt with the situation.

The post triggered a discussion that included frustrated comments on how difficult it was to get onto the highway from side roads and that drivers regularly failed to stop for the traffic light in the middle of the zone.

Since this is a high collision area, it was also suggested that the appropriate authority be contacted to have a sign to that effect posted with the hope that drivers would slow down.

Which would you rather do when turning left from a stop sign, cross two lanes of traffic to enter a third lane when everyone is travelling at 60 km/h or at 90 km/h?

Why is that such an easy choice when you are turning from a side road, but not when you are the through traffic?

I’ve seen some novel ways to cope such as turning into the oncoming left turn lane and then moving right into the through lane.

The traffic lights at the intersection are preceeded by advance warning signs. One would think that if the drivers were paying attention red light running would not occur.

Having said that, I wonder if the advanced warning lights are timed for drivers who are obeying the speed limit. If they are, the lights will not come on soon enough to provide sufficient warning for those that remained at 90 km/h (or more).

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed a dynamic speed display sign on the southbound side of the zone. It is unfortunate that the area is not covered by a traffic count station so that we can see if there has been an improvement or not.

There is some indication of high collision area signs for wildlife having an effect on driver’s speeds but I was not able to find data not related to wildlife. Do you suppose that drivers who don’t obey the 60 km/h speed signs will pay more attention to a high collision area sign? Perhaps.

About a decade ago I attended an open house hosted by the MOTI. They presented four plans for public comment on modifications to this stretch of highway so that drivers could travel through safely at 90 km/h instead of having to slow to 60 km/h. Aside from the installation of some median barriers, no other construction has taken place.

That decade has also seen the average annual daily traffic volume increase from 27,740 to 30,848 vehicles.

Of course, until the budget is found for changes, the simplest way to make this highway safer is for us all to share it unselfishly. If we slow to 60 km/h and stop properly for the red light chances are good that there will be fewer collisions like this one.

New Web-Based Resource Launched to Help Prevent Drug-Impaired Driving

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), in partnership with State Farm® Canada, has launched a Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC). The Centre is a web-based resource that was designed to share the latest research about the problem, increase awareness, and inform the development of effective strategies to tackle it.

Drug-impaired driving has become a top priority among governments, law enforcement, and other road safety stakeholders in the past few years. Increases in the proportion of drivers who self-report driving within two hours of consuming drugs, combined with increases in the proportion of drivers killed in road crashes who tested positive for drugs, warrant attention and concern. Public awareness of the impairing effects of many drugs is quite low, and strategies to reduce the prevalence of this problem are much needed.

The effects of alcohol consumption on driving are widely acknowledged; however, much less is known about the effects of different drugs on driving. This, in combination with the permissive attitudes among young drivers towards marijuana and driving, suggests that work is needed to increase awareness about the risks.

“More public awareness and education about the impacts of drug-impaired driving are essential to combatting its consequences,” said John Bordignon, Media Relations State Farm Canada. “Recent State Farm surveys reveal about half of cannabis users that drive feel the drug does not negatively affect their ability to operate a motor vehicle. With impending legalization of recreational marijuana and the opioid crisis in parts of Canada, a factual, publicly available resource like the DIDLC is a valuable tool that can help prevent injury and save lives.”

“The science of drug impairment is much more complex as compared to alcohol impairment,” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF. “The multitude and diversity of legal and illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications that can impair driving is substantial. Moreover, the impairing effects of some drugs may vary based on user characteristics and the conditions under which drugs are consumed.”

The good news is that research investigating drug-impaired driving has grown exponentially in the past few years. Studies exploring this topic have been conducted across many disciplines including road safety, justice, health, and neuroscience to name a few. The bad news is that this rapid proliferation of research can make it challenging for decision-makers, governments, law enforcement and health practitioners to keep pace with the latest knowledge.

“Drug-impaired driving is a source of concern for many stakeholders because this cross-cutting issue affects drivers of all ages,” said Dr. Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer at TIRF. “According to TIRF’s National Fatality Database, 44.5% of drivers killed in road crashes tested positive for drugs in 2013; a larger proportion than those drivers testing positive for alcohol (31.6%). Whereas young drivers were more likely to test positive for marijuana, older drivers were more likely to test positive for prescription drugs.”

TIRF created the DIDLC to support the efforts of governments and road safety stakeholders to prevent and reduce drug-impaired driving. This comprehensive resource contains several modules and is structured in a user-friendly, accessible, question and answer format. It also includes a variety of fact sheets that can be used by health professionals, teachers, parents and teens to increase knowledge and awareness about drug-impaired driving. The resource can be accessed at: www.druggeddriving.tirf.ca.

Fast Facts

According to TIRF’s 2016 Road Safety Monitor on Drugs & Driving:

  • Approximately 2.2% of drivers self-reported driving within two hours of using marijuana in 2016 compared to 1.6% in 2013.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Crash Problem in Canada 2013 Report:

  • In 2013 fatally injured young drivers (26-35 years old) were more likely to test positive for drugs (50.3%) than any other age group.
  • Male drivers accounted for 76.2% of all fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs.
  • Fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs were more likely to be involved in a single vehicle collision (48.2%).
  • Among those who tested positive for drugs, cannabis was the most frequently detected drug among fatally injured drivers.

About TIRF

Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.

About the State Farm brand in Canada.

In January 2015, State Farm Canada operations were purchased by the Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and among the three largest P&C insurance providers in Canada. With its 500 dedicated agents and 1700 employees, the State Farm division provides insurance and financial services products including mutual funds, life insurance, vehicle loans, critical illness, disability, home and auto insurance to customers in OntarioAlberta and New Brunswick. For more information, visit www.statefarm.ca, join us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/statefarmcanada – or follow us on Twitter – www.twitter.com/StateFarmCanada.

® State Farm and related trademarks and logos are registered trademarks owned by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, used under licence by Certas Home and Auto Insurance Company and certain of its affiliates.

SOURCE Traffic Injury Research Foundation

You would not go years without maintaining your car; why would you neglect your furnace?

Imagine you have spent an entire week cooking, cleaning and decorating your home for the annual family reunion. You wake up the morning of your event and notice that it had snowed overnight which left the trees glistening in the sunlight and the temperatures dropping dramatically.  Shaking off a chill, you walk to the thermostat to turn on the furnace only to be greeted with nothing but silence. You have 20 people arriving in five hours and you have no heat!  On top of getting the final preparations ready for your guests you now have to scramble to find a HVAC technician who can care for your indoor climate.

When hiring a contractor, it is recommended that you do your homework and follow these important steps

  1. Visit BaeumlerApproved.ca for a list of vetted HVAC contractors in your area
  2. Visit online review forums for contractor customer reviews
  3. Once you have decided on a specific contractor, ask them for a copy of their certificate of insurance
  4. Make sure they are registered with WSIB and that they are in a good standing – www.wsib.ca
  5. Get a contract outlining the work to be done and the costs. Ensure you receive and approve change-orders for any work that goes outside of the scope of the original quote prior to the extra work being done.

Don’t get left out in the cold – inspect your furnace annually
It is common knowledge that if you drive a car without regular maintenance or oil changes, the engine will eventually cease and only be good for its parts. The same is true for your HVAC appliances. HVAC systems are complicated pieces of mechanical equipment subject to breakdowns and repairs without proper maintenance. It is generally recommended that furnaces be maintained annually in the fall prior to starting it up to reduce the chances of it breaking down in the dead of winter when it is needed the most.

Properly maintained HVAC systems can reduce your monthly energy bills
Annual maintenance programs will inspect and test all aspects of your system to ensure it runs efficiently and safely.

Technicians will check thermostat calibrations, tighten electrical connections, inspect condensate drains, clean and adjust the blower, check fuel line connections, lubricate moving parts, check system controls (start cycle, operation and shut-off sequence) as well as inspect gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchangers. They will also check for any leaks which could cause carbon monoxide to leak into your home.

When your HVAC system runs inefficiently it needs to work harder to produce heat which increases the risk for failure, repairs and higher energy bills.  The cost of an annual maintenance program can improve your indoor comfort, extend the life of your HVAC system and ultimately save you money on your utility bills.  Find a ClimateCare HVAC retailer near you at www.BaeumlerApproved.ca or www.climatecare.com to learn about their maintenance programs so that you are not left in the cold this winter.

ABOUT ClimateCare Cooperative Corporation
ClimateCare is Canada’s largest network of independent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems contractors.  They are 100% member owned and have operated that way since the cooperative was formed in 1992.  As a network of local businesses spread across Ontario, customers deal with companies that deliver the high standards associated with the ClimateCare name while supporting the local economy. Click here for a list of all ClimateCare locations.

The We Care Promise
ClimateCare’s members are committed to ongoing training and technical education so they can reliably provide great service and modern solutions.  All HVAC contractors agree to conduct business following the WE CARE promise of comfort, accountability, reliability and excellence.

ABOUT BaeumlerApproved.ca
BaeumlerApproved.ca was created to help homeowners connect with contractors, trades and home service providers across Canada by helping them know what to look for.  BaeumlerApproved.ca members must demonstrate a verifiable quality of work and customer satisfaction.  They submit to a screening process that includes BaeumlerApproved.ca gaining feedback from customers and companies that the applicant has collaborated with on projects.  Other screening criteria include online reviews, insurance coverage, worker’s compensation and maintaining appropriate professional certifications.

SOURCE ClimateCare Cooperative Corporation 

Distracted driving results in more deaths in B.C. than impaired driving

Distracted driving results in more deaths in B.C. than impaired driving

ICBC, government and police are reminding drivers to “take a break from their phone”

Distracted driving continues to claim more lives on B.C. roads than impaired driving.

Despite tougher penalties, more police enforcement and continued public education, on average, 78 people still don’t make it home to their families every year because of distracted and inattentive drivers*. In contrast, an average of 66 people are killed each year due to impaired driving. In fact, distraction and driver inattention is one of the top contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities in BC and contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash deaths.**

In a recent Ipsos Reid study conducted for ICBC, nearly all respondents agreed that it is extremely risky to use their hand-held phone while driving; however, 38 per cent of drivers said that they use their phone during at least 10 per cent of the trips they take.

This month, drivers will be hearing one united message – take a break from your phone when you’re behind the wheel.

Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement in September, and community volunteers are conducting Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to take a break from their phone when driving.

New this year, ICBC is working with four car share companies in B.C. – Car2Go, Evo, Modo and Zipcar – which will help spread the message to car share customers, ensuring more B.C. drivers are aware of the risks of driving while distracted.

The campaign will feature new TV and radio advertising, airing throughout the province from September 8 to October 11, as well as digital and social media advertising.

Free ‘not while driving’ decals are available at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices for drivers to show their support and encourage other road users to follow their example.

You can view more tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.

Quotes:

David Eby, Attorney General

“Distracted driving is entirely preventable, as are the crashes and casualties caused by the behaviour. To address this issue, our government is moving forward with a pilot program of new technologies to eliminate distracted driving among high-risk groups, and to increase public awareness of the risks of this dangerous driving behaviour. Drivers need to be part of the solution too: put down your phones before driving; keep them out of reach; and keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe.”

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

“Heading into the school year, I’d like to remind everyone to be safe behind the wheel and keep your eyes on the road at all times. Drivers are facing higher fines, more penalty points and possible driving prohibitions for repeat offences with legislation that came into effect on June 1, 2016. Distracted driving is a high-risk driving offence, which makes it equivalent to excessive speeding, and driving without due care and attention. If your vehicle isn’t equipped for hands-free use of your handheld device, turn off the ringer before you turn on the ignition.”

Superintendent Davis Wendell, OIC E Division Traffic Services and Vice-Chair, B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“The law is clear: you must leave your phone alone when operating a vehicle,” said Superintendent Davis Wendell, OIC E Division Traffic Services and Vice-Chair, B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will be out in full force this month reminding you to put your phone away when you’re behind the wheel. No text or call is worth the risk.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety:

“Distracted driving results in more fatalities than impaired driving, and is also one of the leading contributors of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “It’s time we all commit to taking a break from our phone and stop driving distracted.”

Regional statistics**:

  • Every year, on average, 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, on average, 8 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, on average, 32 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 14 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Includes talking, texting or using a device while driving.
**Police data from 2011 to 2015. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

Joanna Linsangan
604-982-2480

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