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ICBC & BC SPCA urge pet guardians to Drive Smart by keeping pets safe on summer road trips

According to a recent survey of ICBC’s customers*, 40 per cent of pet guardians plan to bring their pet on a road trip this summer. With only half of guardians saying they own a vehicle restraint or safety device for their pet, ICBC and the BC SPCA are urging drivers to drive smart and consider the safety of their pets when riding in a vehicle.

Of all pet guardians surveyed, only half (52 per cent) own a safety device, with cat guardians (85 per cent) more likely to own one over dog guardians (45 per cent). Cat guardians were also more likely to be consistent with its use – 87 per cent said they ‘always’ use a restraint versus dog guardians at 55 per cent. The reasons given for those that never or rarely used a restraint include that their pet is calm, that it’s safe for a pet to be loose, and that the trip is short.

ICBC and the BC SPCA recommend always using some form of safety restraint whenever travelling with a pet, even for mild-mannered pets or when running a quick errand around town. In the event of a crash, a loose animal can fly forward in your vehicle, causing further injury to themselves and to others in the vehicle. Pet harnesses/safety belts and hard-shell crates secured down are sound options.

To keep this member of the family safest, pets should never sit in the front seat, but be secured in the back seat or cargo area of an SUV or van. Most pet guardians reported that their pet rode in the back seat (50 per cent), while 18 per cent said their pet rode in the front seat, and 16 per cent rode in the cargo area.

Guardians should also take steps to prevent their pet from becoming a distraction to drivers. Distraction is the second-leading contributing cause of fatal crashes in B.C., killing 78 people a year. While three-quarters of respondents agreed that playing with a pet while driving is distracting, some pet guardians admitted to the following actions while driving:

  • Used arms to restrain pet’s movements when putting on the brakes, 14 per cent

  • Used arms to keep pet from climbing from the back seat to the front seat, 13 per cent

  • Reached into the back seat to interact with pet, 12 per cent

  • Allowed pet to sit on their lap, or held pet while driving, five per cent

  • Gave food to pet while driving, five per cent

  • Played with pet, 2 per cent

  • Taken a photo of pet, 1 per cent

Quotes:

“Part of driving smart is making sure everyone in the vehicle – including pets, are secured before leaving home,” said Lindsay Matthews, interim vice president responsible for road safety. “In the event of a crash, this prevents passengers from incurring further injury, while keeping the pet safe, too.”

“Many drivers consider a pet as part of their family,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “And as with any loved one that rides in your vehicle, we hope drivers will take steps to keep their dog or cat seated, secure and safe during every drive.”

One customer wrote, “A far greater concern I have relates to the distraction pets cause to the driver and thus danger to pedestrians and other members of the motoring public. I have witnessed persons driving, holding the dog or cat between themselves and the steering wheel. This does not provide any safety to the animal and certainly impedes the driver’s ability to adequately react.”

Drive Smart tips for pet guardians:

Tip #1: Use a safety device to protect your pet. Loose animals in the event of crash can become a projectile, injuring themselves and others in the vehicle. Animals can also pose a safety risk for first responders, as a disoriented and injured animal may try to attack an attendant or even cause another crash by running into traffic.

Tip #2: Let your dog be the backseat driver. Pets are safest when secured in the back seat or cargo area. For the same reason ICBC discourages children under 12 from sitting in the front seat of vehicle, the same safety risks of a deployed air bag can have devastating consequences for animals as well.

Tip #3: Prevent pet distraction by packing the essentials. Keep pets content by bringing food, water, dishes, bedding and toys. For road trips, it’s best to stock your vehicle with a pet first-aid kit. And plan for a pit stop every few hours – it’s good for drivers and pets alike to stretch and get fresh air.

Tip #4: Keep pets inside the vehicle while driving. While it’s tempting to let your dog hang his head out the window for the breeze, this can lead to eye injuries due to weather, heavy wind, fly debris or objects coming close to your vehicle. Disable your power windows to prevent your dog from accidentally opening a window, causing it to escape or have the window close on its neck.

Tip #5: Do not drive with your pet on your lap. This can prevent you from having full control of your vehicle. Your pet could also be seriously injured or killed by a deployed airbag in the event of a crash. Drivers can be ticketed for driving with ‘without due care and attention’, with a fine of $368 and six penalty points which comes with a fine of $300.

Tip #6: Secure your pet if travelling in the back of a pick-up truck. It is illegal and dangerous to travel with an unsecured pet in the exterior of a truck. If you must transport your pet in the back of a truck, the safest method is in a secured crate in the centre of your truck box. Learn more on the BC SPCA’s website.

Tip #7: If you’re not in the car, your dog shouldn’t be either. Vehicles can quickly heat up in summer weather, and can endanger your pet’s health. Even a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked open can get hot enough to cause heatstroke or death of an animal.

Visit the BC SPCA’s website or ICBC’s pet travel page for more safety tips.

*ICBC Customer Advisory Panel survey, taken June 2018, 1,557 total participants, 45 per cent identified as pet owners.

Drivers pocket savings by allowing their insurer to come along for the ride

By Dan Healing

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY _ When his auto insurance company offered him the option to pay lower rates, Justin Lam leaped at the chance, even though it meant allowing his insurer to electronically tag along with him on every trip.

The 39-year-old from Toronto downloaded TD Insurance’s Myadvantage app on his cellphone and started receiving scores out of 100 based on how fast he was going, whether his turns were too sudden, how hard he was braking and even what time of day he tended to get behind the wheel.

“They said there was no downside. So even if you score terribly on the app, the worse you could do is pay the same rate, with no discount,” Lam said.

The payoff arrived last month with his insurance renewal notice. With an average score in his first year of about 85, he said he is saving around 20 per cent, dropping his $1,800 annual bill to less than $1,500.

If a person doesn’t mind the loss of privacy and their driving will stand up to intensive scrutiny, usage-based insurance may be right for them, experts say.

Driver monitoring programs are generally delivered in two ways, by a smartphone app that “sleeps” until it senses driving has started, or by a telematics device plugged into the car’s diagnostic port. Both use GPS and sensors to collect information and send it wirelessly to the insurer’s website.

Drivers usually receive an enrolment discount of five or 10 per cent and then can earn up to another 15 to 25 per cent discount that is applied when their insurance policy is renewed.

Users can go online to see how their driving stacks up and make corrections. For example, the TD Myadvantage app allows the policy holder to delete a trip if he or she was actually a passenger.

The TD program is offered only in Ontario and Quebec, said Francois Langevin, assistant vice-president of product innovation, but the company is looking to expand it into other provinces.

He estimated that about 40 per cent of new auto insurance clients sign up, adding that’s similar to the industry average for these programs in Canada.

“If you’re a driver who drives low kilometres, doesn’t speed, and doesn’t have jerky driving, that kind of thing, then you have a lower likelihood of making a claim so you get a discount based on that driving behaviour,” said Kaitlynn Furse, spokeswoman for CAA South Central Ontario, which offers a service called CAA Connect that uses a telematics device plugged into the car.

Auto insurance falls under provincial regulation and so the rules vary across Canada.

Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Alberta, for instance, allow some but not all forms of usage-based insurance programs.

The other provinces and territories are considering allowing the programs but haven’t done so yet.

Provincial regulation has fallen behind the pace of technology, preventing insurers and clients from being able to harness the full potential of such programs, said senior policy adviser Rana Shamoon at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Canadians have far fewer choices than in the United States, where 49 jurisdictions have 10 or more insurers offering user-based programs, she said.

Fear that their information may be misused to raise their premiums or provide evidence against them in the event of a claim has hampered enrolment growth in telematics programs, said Andrew Lo, CEO of Kanetix Ltd., a company that helps consumers compare insurance products and rates.

According to a recent Kanetix survey, only 27.7 per cent of respondents in Ontario said they are interested in allowing their insurer to monitor their driving in return for discounted rates.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has identified potential issues with transparency and use of telematics data about driving habits, said Anne-Marie Cenaiko, manager of public education and outreach.

Federal and provincial privacy laws generally require data only be collected with informed consent and be used or disclosed only for the purpose for which it was collected, she said.

Living up to the expectations of his monitoring app is difficult at times, Lam said _ staying below the speed limit when all the traffic around is going faster can seem more hazardous than just keeping up.

He said he also found he was getting a few odd scores.

“It takes the app a while to realize you’ve stopped driving,” he said.

“One time, I dropped my phone on the ground as I was getting out of the car and I got a mark of, like, five for braking too hard.”

ICBC’s top tips to help keep kids safe on summer break

With B.C. school children and teens starting their summer break from school this week, ICBC is asking drivers to be especially alert this season, particularly near playgrounds and around youth walking or riding their bikes.

Every year in B.C., five pedestrians aged five to 18 die and 250 are injured in crashes involving a vehicle. A young cyclist dies every year in B.C. and another 120 young cyclists are injured in crashes involving a vehicle.*

Tips for drivers:

  • Playground speed limits are year-round: With longer summer days, drivers should remember that the 30km/hr speed limit is from dawn to dusk, every day.

  • Summer school speed limits are in effect: For schools that hold summer classes, the school zone speed limit of 30 km/hr is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days. School zone signs will indicate if a school is holding summer sessions.

  • Wait at crosswalks: Parents and their young children may need more time when crossing the street. Don’t pass any car waiting at a crosswalk as they may be stopped for those crossing the street. Wait for pedestrians to get to the other side of the street before resuming your travel.

  • Slow down on residential streets: Expect the unexpected when children are at play, including the possibility of a teen running to catch an errant ball or a child running out from between parked cars. Slow down and be prepared to stop suddenly.

  • Be patient with younger cyclists: Leave plenty of room between your car and young cyclists, in particular. Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left.

  • Distracted walkers: Be aware of pedestrians around you, especially for teens who are wearing headphones or using their cell phones while walking, as they not be paying close attention to the road.

Tips for parents:

  • Review safety rules: Review road safety rules with your children and practice how to use crosswalks safely. Set limits to where they can walk alone and where they must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Accompany young children: Children under 10 should always be accompanied by an adult when crossing a street or walking close to the road.

  • Safe outdoor play areas: Establish safe play areas around your home for younger children, such as your backyard. Supervise your children or assign an older child to be in charge. Teach your child that the road is never a safe place to play, even if their toy rolls into the street or a driveway.

  • Demonstrate good walking habits: Practice good walking habits that keep you and your family safe. Teach your child to stand a few steps from the curb while waiting at a crosswalk. Instruct your child to always use a crosswalk, and that jaywalking is never OK.

  • Distracted walking: Remind your teen to be aware of their surroundings when walking. Looking at their cell phone or wearing headphones can prevent them from noticing oncoming cars and other hazards.

  • Cycling safety: Teach safe cycling behaviour to your children such as cycling in a straight line, performing hand signals and shoulder checking. Outfit their bike with a bell, lights and reflective materials. Children should wear bright, reflective clothing so they can be seen in the dark.
  • Head safety: Make wearing a helmet a rule for your child if they want to use their bike, skateboard or rollerblades.

Additional statistics:

Youth pedestrians:

  • Every year, 180 children are injured in crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, 33 children are injured in crashes in the Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, 25 children are injured in crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, 10 children are injured in crashes in the North Central region.

Youth cyclists:

  • Every year, 73 children are injured in crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, 22 children are injured in crashes each year on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, 18 children are injured in crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, six children are injured in crashes in the North Central region.

*Notes: ICBC crash and injury data used (2011 to 2015). Annual average province-wide. Youth defined as aged five to 18.

** ICBC crash and injury data used (2011to 2015). Annual average per region. Youth defined as aged five to 18.

Why do my car insurance rates spike based on where I live?

Excerpted article was writen by 

Are my car insurance rates higher based on where I live? Is it based on the number of accidents in my postal code? It doesn’t make sense that we have to pay if a terrible driver from somewhere else gets in a crash here. – Jerry, Brampton, Ont.

If you dent somebody’s hood far from your ‘hood, your neighbours’ rates take the hit.

“It is based on your address, where the car is garaged – not where the claim occurred,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

So if your neighbour in Brampton got in a crash at King and Yonge Streets in Toronto, it counts as a claim for your neighbourhood – not in Toronto.

The number and cost of overall claims – including thefts and crashes – by people living in your area is one of the things insurance companies are allowed to look atwhen they set your rates.

“Territory is considered for auto insurance in Ontario as well as most every other province, including [British Columbia] and Manitoba,” Karageorgos said. “It’s used as a way to group people because premiums are determined by claims.”

The Ontario Liberals and New Democrats promised to stop this insurance industry practice in the provincial election campaign.

“The [Progressive Conservatives] have been pretty quiet in the whole insurance issue,” said Anne Marie Thomas, senior manager of partner relationships for rate-comparison site Insurancehotline.com. “The NDP also said they will lower insurance rates by 15 per cent.”

In a platform scrapped after Doug Ford became party leader, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives had promised an end to “geographic discrimination” while not allowing insurance companies to raise rates in other parts of the province.

So why is it an issue? Because your rates could, potentially, be close to $1,000 a year higher than someone who lives a kilometre or two away. For instance, according to numbers released by Kanetix last fall, Brampton is the most expensive city for insurance in Ontario. There’s an average $2,268 annual premium for a 35-year-old driver of a 2014 Honda with a clean driving record.

But next door in Georgetown, that rate is $1,151.

And, while the average rate for Toronto overall was $1,743, there were 22 Toronto neighbourhoods where it was over $2,000 a year.

The average rate province-wide for that Honda driver? It’s $1,316 a year, Kanetix said.

WHY INSURANCE COMPANIES GO POSTAL

Ontario allows insurance companies to have up to 54 territories – Toronto can have up to ten – and each insurance company decides where those are, Karageorgos said.

The province approves rates and annual increases based on each company’s claims costs.

“Each company can look at the province and slice it up differently,” Karageorgos said. “That’s why it’s important to shop around.”

But eliminating what the NDP has called “postal-code discrimination” might have a cost to people living in cheaper areas.

“If you think about it, insurance companies aren’t going to do things at a loss – so if rates go down somewhere, they’re going to up somewhere else,” Thomas said. “The majority of the money [insurance companies] make is from investments and not underwriting – for every dollar they take in, some companies are paying out as much as $1.30 in claims.”

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) said insurance companies are making record profits in Ontario – about $1.5-billion in 2016 alone.

The association issued a report last month stating that Ontario consumers have been overpaying by about $143 per policy every year.

“Insurers are not required to be transparent and clear in their auto profit reporting,” OTLA president Ronald Bohm said in an e-mail. “[They] have been crying poor and getting [the] government to allow them to cut benefits to those seriously injured in accidents.”

The IBC disagrees with the report, and spokesman Steve Kee said it had “serious errors.”

Ontario’s average rates, now about $1,500 per year, make it the second-most expensive province for insurance in Canada, IBC said. The most expensive? That’s B.C., where the average is nearly $1,700 a year, including basic and optional coverage, IBC said.

Both the OTLA and IBC say lowering Ontario insurance rates requires overhauling the whole system.

“The problem has been created over the years because each government comes in and cherry picks what they’re going to fix,” IBC’s Karageorgos said.

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