The “I Can Get Away With It” Mindset

Ticket WriterI’ve written before about the three Es of road safety, education, engineering and enforcement. The enforcement component was the subject of a comment to me concerning a visible police presence on our highways. The observation was that unmarked cars and what seems like minimal enforcement creates a “I can get away with it” mindset.

The fleet at the last traffic unit that I worked at consisted of seven vehicles: two unmarked, two “clean roof” and three fully marked cars. One of the unmarked cars was only available for enforcement work if the supervisors weren’t working or were otherwise occupied. Policy dictated the percentage of cars that could be anything less than fully marked.

The unmarked cars were popular even though they were relatively easy to identify as police vehicles if you were paying attention. Plain trim, black steel wheels and antennas on the roof tend to stick out.

Even so, you tended to find more bad driving behaviour patrolling in the unmarked car than you would when using a fully marked vehicle. My experience was also that I was able to deal with drivers that I did not see misbehaving otherwise.

Add an unconventional unmarked vehicle to the mix and it got more interesting. We were envious of a neighbouring traffic unit that had an unmarked pickup truck with a canopy. Drivers did all sorts of foolish things around it, probably because they did not associate it with active traffic enforcement.

Our supervisor often expressed his desire to see flashing lights at the roadside. He said that the public couldn’t tell whether we were writing tickets or warnings and the flashing lights served to remind them that if they didn’t behave, the next driver pulled over might be them.

This halo effect could be very short lived however. Occasionally I would entertain myself by leaving the radar running while I wrote a ticket so I was able to keep and eye on what was overtaking us. A vehicle would come into view travelling at a speed in excess of the limit, see the flashing lights and slow down. Sometimes they even slowed to a speed under the limit. After they passed by I would frequently see their speed creep back up to the initial speed over the limit before the vehicle went out of sight.

I wonder whether flashing lights deter bad driving behaviour or if it only discourages it in places where they are seen frequently. After all, it is some other driver that is receiving police attention, not you, so why worry?

My old patrol area consisted of about 350 kilometers of numbered highway. My shift partner and I more often than not were the only dedicated traffic enforcement present save for the overlap with the day or afternoon shift depending on which shift we were working. The chance of running into either one of us was slim and truthfully, became even slimmer the farther away you were from the detachment.

I don’t agree that unmarked cars are part of the visible enforcement deficit, but the scope of the job given the size of our province contributes to a feeling of minimal enforcement and an “I can get away with it” mindset.

Atlantic Canada braces for winter storms: IBC reminds consumers to be prepared

On the heels of the recent Christmas Day storm that knocked out power to thousands, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is encouraging Atlantic Canadians to prepare for rain, strong winds with severe gusts and heavy snowfall arriving in the region tomorrow. Environment Canada has issued warnings and special weather statements for several parts of Atlantic Canada.

“The first priority is to ensure the safety of yourself and your family,” said IBC’s Tom O’Handley. “That’s why we want to help make sure that Atlantic Canadians are prepared and ready for when bad weather strikes. Monitor local weather conditions, listen to local authorities, and have a plan in place to keep you, your home, and your family safe.  If you have any questions, contact your insurance representative or call IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1‑844‑2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422). We’re here to help.”

Help protect your home when winter weather strikes:

  • Check your property for tree branches that may have been weakened from last week’s storm and try to mitigate and reinforce damage that has not yet been repaired
  • Secure Holiday decorations
  • Store valuable items in upper floors of your home, away from the basement.
  • Test and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Ensure your furnace, wood stove and any other heating sources are in good working condition.
  • Anchor interior and exterior fuel tanks to the floor or base with a tank stability bracket. A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire. Make sure vents and fill-line openings are above flood levels. For propane tanks, contact the propane company on best storage methods.
  • Run water through all plumbing fixtures regularly to prevent freezing.
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure proper functioning.
  • If safe to do so, check your eaves troughs and roof for potential ice dams
  • Prevent freezing of pipes by fitting exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping.
  • Review your emergency plan with your family.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit, including being ready for 72 hours without electricity.
  • Prepare a detailed home inventory.
  • Pay attention to local authorities and monitor weather developments regularly.
  • If it is safe to drive, remember to slow down and drive for the road conditions.

When severe weather occurs, it is important for consumers to understand their insurance policies and to know what is covered. If damage occurs, IBC is here to help policyholders if they have any insurance –related questions.

Starting the claims process:

  • When safe to do so, assess and document damage.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company to report damage or losses.
  • Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • If you need help getting in touch with your insurer, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $52 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

10 Tips For Choosing The Best Motorcycle Gear

By Liz Jansen | Riders Plus Insurance 

It may seem counterintuitive to spend time and money on something you may never need. Yet buying the best motorcycle gear you can afford can be the wisest investment you make.

To help you, we’ve prepared a list of guidelines that apply to pilot and pillion. As a rule, keep the three “F’s”—fit, function, and fashion—in mind, in that order. If it doesn’t fit, even the best gear can’t do its job. Save your money.

Here’s what to look for when selecting jacket, pants, gloves, and boots.

1. Size. Try it on. Gear should be snug without being too tight or impeding built-in ventilation. In the event of a slide down the road, it’s more likely to stay in place on your body and give you the greatest protection. Look for adjustable waists to fit different sizes and accommodate layers. Zip-in linings extend the utility and take you through three seasons. Find a bike with a riding position like yours, sit on it, and assume the riding position. Make sure the gear is not constricting your movement or binding at knees, hips, or shoulders.

2. Length. Gear is designed to protect you while riding. Having it show off your good looks is secondary. Standing, your jacket and pants will look too long. While in your riding position, you want sleeves to cover your wrists. Make sure the jacket back is long enough to overlap your pants. Likewise, pant legs should cover your ankles.

3. Armour. The best gear has quality impact protection, like CE-rated (a European standard) D30. Look for jackets with extra coverage at the elbows, shoulders and back. Pants should be armoured at hips and knees. This protection will fall below the joint it’s protecting when you’re standing with arms at your side. Make sure it’s properly placed when in the riding position. Good gear will have adjustable pockets for armour at joints to allow for varying leg and arm lengths. You’ll want armour that can be removed when the garment is cleaned. Mid-shin height is best for boots, along with a reinforced shank and ankle protection.

4. Construction. Make sure seams are double or triple stitched and have a smooth finish. They’ll be more durable and resistant to popping open during a slide. Seams you feel when trying pieces on will be uncomfortable and distracting during use. Choose a boot with ankle protection, a steel shank, shifter pad, and toe protection. Choose oil-resistant soles and make sure they’re stitched on, not just glued in place.

5. Closures. Manufacturers use a variety of fasteners from zippers, laces, and Velcro, to snaps. Choose adjustable closures at wrists and neck. Although Velcro works anywhere else, stay away from it at your neck. It catches on helmet straps and degrades the material. Avoid laces on boots, unless they have an extra covering to prevent snagging. Velcro closures make boots easy to get on and off, while providing a snug fit.

6. Ventilation. On hot days, good ventilation is a lifesaver. Look for zippered openings on the chest and back to promote airflow. Underarm vents also add comfort. Big pulls make zippers easier to open and close with gloves while riding.

7. Visibility. Reflective surfaces, especially on your upper body, increase your conspicuity. While the larger the surface the better, piping, insets, and panels can all help. The reflections picked up by headlights may be what saves you from getting hit. Wearing a high-viz vest over your jacket is another option.

8. Water resistance. Ideally water proof. You’ll pay a premium for waterproof apparel but if you ride a lot, it’s worth it. Separate rain gear is the next best alternative. Removable waterproof linings sound practical, but I shun them. They’re hot, uncomfortable, and make you perspire. Because the moisture can’t escape, you end up just as wet as being in the rain. It’s also inconvenient to remove jacket or pants at the roadside and zip in a rain liner, or remove it. Rain still soaks exterior fabrics. They become soggy, heavy, and take time to dry.

9. Pockets. Easy to access interior and exterior pockets add much convenience. If your garment is waterproof, make sure the pocket seals are too.

10. Skills. Although listed last, sharp skills are the best protection you can have. But they’re not enough. Choose the best gear based on your riding style, budget, and how much you ride. Take your time, ask lots of questions, try it on and sit on a bike in a position like the one you ride in.

Determine which features are important to you and don’t settle for less. You’re making a decision about your safety so choose wisely.

Motorcycle show season will be here soon. You can get great deals on apparel, but nothing is a deal if it’s not going to protect you.

Source: Riders Plus Insurance 

Driving Safely in the Fog

It’s night and I’m driving into the gray cotton of fog caused by a lingering temperature inversion. Vision is limited, the roads are wet, it’s just a few degrees above freezing and some of the traffic to my left is driving like it’s a sunny afternoon in August. As they whoosh by me nose to tail at speeds exceeding the posted limit I marvel at what I imagine is their ability to see so much better than I can. I also admire their ability to anticipate and use quick reflexes to get themselves out of trouble if something unexpected happens ahead.

As of today, ICBC will probably have received reports of more than a quarter of a million collisions so far in 2017.

About 85% of the information that we need to drive comes through our eyes. Darkness and fog limit our ability to see which means we may suffer from a lack of data to make decisions from.

Speed limits the time available to process data. The faster you drive, the less time you have to consider and react to what that limited data is telling you.

Following too closely in conditions that reduce your ability to brake and steer on top of all of this is simply asking for trouble.

When it is foggy enough to limit our ability to see properly when driving, the first question that we need to ask ourselves is “Do I really need to make this trip?” If the answer is no, then putting the journey off to another time could be a really wise choice.

If we have to travel, the next consideration might involve a decision on which route to take. Using the freeway might not be your best choice as city streets will have slower, safer travel speeds.

Turn on ALL your vehicle’s lights. Do it by setting your headlight switch in the on position, not the auto position.

I’ve learned by observation that on a foggy day the auto position of my vehicle’s headlight switch will result in a lack of taillights. There is enough diffuse light to trick the system into thinking it is bright enough to use just the daytime running lights and it shuts off the taillights, leaving me unprotected from behind.

If your vehicle is equipped with front or rear fog lights, now is the time to use them.

You must choose an appropriate travel speed, keeping in mind that you have to be able to come to a full stop in slightly less distance than you can actually see. Erring on the side of caution by traveling more slowly is a wise choice.

Keep your eyes moving! We have an unconscious tendency to travel toward the things that we stare at.

Maintaining proper lane position is critical. The prevailing wisdom suggests that you use the solid white line or pavement edge to your right rather than the center line of the roadway.

Finally, if visibility becomes so poor that you can no longer see well enough to drive you’ve become trapped in a situation where your darned if you do and darned if you don’t. Continuing on may result in a crash, but slowing down too much may mean being hit from behind.

Should you decide to stop, get as far off of the road as possible. If you decide to remain in your vehicle, keep your seatbelts fastened to minimize injury if you are hit by another vehicle.

 

Headlight Systems can be Complex to Police

In my time as a driver I’ve seen headlight technology progress from tungsten filament glass sealed beams to quartz halogen, high intensity discharge and now LED and even laser. There is more light on the road today from the driver’s point of view than there has ever been. While that can be a good thing if all that light is coming from your vehicle, it might not be so great if you are the one facing it.

Way back when, sealed beams tended to be dimmer and more yellowish. They were not that bright in comparison to modern systems but a driver failing to dim them was more nuisance than hazard. It was also easy to overdrive their illumination.

Quartz halogen introduced a brighter, whiter light with a filament that would last longer too. Initially, they came in a sealed beam but progressed to a housing with a replaceable bulb.

The light that they emitted was more controlled and often had an obvious pattern. They could throw more light down the road on low beam and increase your margin of safety.

High intensity discharge (HID) lamps replace the tungsten filament with a tube of gas that glowed brightly when high voltage electricity was passed through it. These were efficient and could emit a lot of light in the visible part of the spectrum in comparison to filament bulbs.

HID does have drawbacks, emitting light that tends to be bluer which we may see as producing more glare. As they age, the light emitted tends to be even more blue.

LED is efficient and can be mechanically or digitally controlled to direct light where it is needed and changes can occur in milliseconds.

Laser headlights (currently high beam only) direct laser light onto a phosphor that then glows and is emitted by the headlight.

In North America the Society of Automotive Engineers sets the standards for vehicle lighting. The federal government incorporates these standards into the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and Regulations to control how the vehicles on our highways are built. British Columbia enacts provincial legislation to insure that lighting systems continue to be used and maintained to these standards.

Policing these rules can be complex. The tungsten sealed beam system was simple and from a policing point of view it was pretty much a working / not working determination.

Replaceable tungsten halogen bulbs started the requirement for police and facility vehicle inspectors to have more detailed knowledge. Over wattage bulbs, tinted lenses, or their replacement with either HID or LED assemblies that fit but were not designed to allow the housings that contained them to distribute their light properly became a common nuisance.

It is now simple to purchase all manner of lighting on line that is marked to masquerade as meeting standards or is not marked, much less meeting any standard at all.

There is no guarantee that any of these items will produce the proper light that you need to see with or won’t be dangerous for other drivers that you share the road with.

To counter this, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes an inspection and approval protocol for vehicle lighting. While this may be practical to use in a designated inspection facility it does serve to help police at the roadside determine that problems may exist. When there is a valid suspicion the most effective policing tool may be to order the vehicle to a designated inspection facility for closer scrutiny.

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.

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