BCAA survey – BC motorists admit to being Canada’s worst winter drivers

BCAA survey – BC motorists admit to being Canada’s worst winter drivers

Drivers overplay their skills, underestimate weather conditions and downplay risks

B.C. motorists feel pretty good about their winter driving skills heading into what the World Meteorological Organization predicts will be a colder and stormier season across the province. Despite the majority admitting to being the worst winter drivers in the nation in a new BCAA survey conducted by Insights West, B.C. drivers are taking little action to prepare for bad weather. BCAA provides drivers with safety tips to prepare their vehicle and adjust driving habits for winter.

Almost one in three (32%) B.C. motorists say there’s no need for them to prepare for winter driving because they consider themselves to be a good driver. One third (31%) say they won’t prepare until it actually snows, while one third (31%) don’t believe B.C. is in store for a bad winter.

“Call it overconfidence or denial but, based on our data and in my experience, too many British Columbians, especially in the Lower Mainland, don’t think about winter driving until it’s too late,” says Stu Miller, BCAA senior manager of automotive operations.

Miller, who has worked in the business for 20 years, says he sees it every season. “Winter weather can create unpredictable road conditions anywhere and at any time, which can turn out to be challenging for even the most experienced driver.”

The survey shows that drivers may be taking risks by not being honest with themselves about their driving skills or comfort level when it comes to winter driving. According to the study’s results, B.C. drivers are confident but at the same time nervous driving in bad conditions, exposing a contradiction in drivers’ self-assessments. Almost two thirds (64%) claim they are experienced but nervous winter drivers and almost half (45%) say they’re experienced drivers but bad at driving in winter conditions.

A concern for BCAA is that 47 per cent reveal that they’re nervous about driving in snow but drive anyway—one third even admit to “freaking out a bit” when having to drive in snow. Over 60 per cent will not stay off the roads in bad conditions.

For 71 per cent of B.C. drivers, winter driving is not a concern because they believe it “doesn’t snow much where they live.” But for Miller, snow is only part of the challenge. “Sleet, icy roads, heavy rainfall, cold temperatures and more hours of darkness—this is a season of weather hazards at every turn and with half of drivers not even checking the weather before heading out, it’s concerning,” says Miller.

One piece of good news in Miller’s eyes is that 68 per cent think all B.C. drivers should use winter tires, though only 29 per cent are prepared with a winter roadside emergency kit, “so we have work to do,” says Miller.

With 64 per cent spending up to 10 hours and 32 per cent up to 30 hours a week behind the wheel, Miller wants drivers to be more aware of their driving skills and comfort levels when it comes to driving in any winter weather conditions. He also stresses that motorists should have other transportation options already planned in case they’re unable to drive safely in winter conditions.

According to BCAA, when harsh winter weather hits, the number of calls from across the province into the organization’s roadside assistance call centre can increase between 40 to 60 per cent on certain days. In the Metro Vancouver area, roadside assistance call volumes during snowy or frigid weather can double.

BCAA offers some easy tips to help drivers stay safe on the roads this winter:

1.       Prepare your car so it endures weather conditions and performs well so you can drive safely.

  • Get a complete vehicle check-up before cold weather sets in.
  • Carry a winter driving emergency kit and chains in your car.

2.       Adjust your driving behaviours to match the weather conditions.

  • Take precautions before and while you drive—clear snow and ice from windows and lights, defog all windows before you head out, drive at slower speeds, leave more room between you and the car ahead and use turn signals well in advance.
  • Check road and weather conditions before you head out.

3.       Make safety your priority

  • Don’t underestimate the impact all winter conditions can have on your car and ability to drive safely.
  • Be honest about your driving skills and comfort levels—don’t drive in conditions when you don’t have the skills or if you’re too nervous.
  • Avoid the temptation to drive when you shouldn’t by having other transportation options already planned.

For more information and tips on how to prepare for winter driving, visit bcaa.com/winterdriving

About the survey
Results are based on an online study conducted from October 28 to October 30, 2016, among 728 adult residents of British Columbiawho have a valid driver’s license and drive at least one hour a week. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/ 3.7 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

About BCAA
The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, auto and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and BCAA Auto Service Centres. BCAA has ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Home Insurers in Western Canada by J.D. Power five years in a row (2012-2016). With more than 100,000 partners worldwide, BCAA’s 840,000 Members can save over $1,000 per year on insurance and items they use every day. To learn more about how a BCAA Membership is rewarding, please visit bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

MADD disappointed: 335 impaired drivers stopped in Saskatchewan last month

REGINA _ The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving says the latest number of impaired drivers being stopped in Saskatchewan is disappointing, but not a surprise.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance says more than 330 drunk drivers were stopped in October and, of those, 314 Criminal Code charges were laid for impaired driving, having a blood alcohol content over .08 or refusing a breath test.

A similar provincewide traffic safety focus in May nabbed more than 350 impaired drivers.

Wendell Waldron with MADD in Regina says he believes there’s a significant part of the population that is obstinate when it comes to impaired driving.

Waldron says MADD is hoping things will improve with new legislation in January that includes a three-day vehicle seizure for drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content over .04.

That change and others were introduced just over a month after former deputy premier Don McMorris pleaded guilty to drunk driving.

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Car booster seats for kids are getting better, study says

Companies that make child booster seats for vehicles are getting better at designing them to protect kids, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Thursday.

Of the 53 new booster seats IIHS tested, 48 received the non-profit’s highest rating. Two models of Cosco booster seats, made by Canadian company Dorel Juvenile, were not recommended. When IIHS first began rating booster seats about eight years ago, only a quarter of seats earned the highest rating.

“Parents looking for a safe option for kids who have outgrown seats with built-in harnesses have more choices than ever,” said Jessica Jermakian, a senior research engineer at IIHS.

Booster seats are made for children between 4 and 8 years old who have outgrown their car seats. The boosters help seat belts fit better on children. Kids who sit on the booster seats are 45 per cent less likely to be injured in a crash compared to just using seat belts alone, IIHS said. In 48 states and Washington, D.C., booster seats are required by law, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The two models that were not recommended by IIHS are the Cosco Easy Elite and the Cosco Highback 2-in-1 DX, both of which are made by Dorel Juvenile. The IIHS said Dorel Juvenile designed seven other boosters that received its highest rating.

“It’s disappointing that they would introduce boosters that don’t do their job when they clearly know how to do it right,” Jermakian said.

Dorel Juvenile said in a statement that those two booster seats provide “excellent protection” and said it conducts about 5,000 crash tests each year on its products.

 

Buyer Beware: Some steps to help you find a cheap used car

vds_cars_3When shopping for a low-priced used car, three things will become evident:

Some people want to swindle you.

Few take proper care of their cars.

The search will take a long time.

Last summer, I set out to help my future son-in-law find transportation to his new teaching job near Kalamazoo, Michigan. He’s just starting out, and was hoping to get a reliable vehicle for $4,000 to $5,000.

Those gems are there, but they’re hard to find. We searched for two months across Michigan. Eventually we got lucky. You can too, if you follow these steps:

IN THE BEGINNING

Step one: Figure out what you want. In our case, it was a compact or midsize car with around 100,000 miles on it.

In our price range, the general wisdom is to go with Honda or Toyota, which stay reliable with age. But those brands are more expensive because sellers know this, says Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. He suggests going with something almost as reliable from another well-known brand, such as Ford.

We started by searching mainly on Craigslist, but there are multiple websites that list cars for sale. We checked new postings, but also searched archived ads for Ford Focuses and Fusions, the Chevrolet Malibu and the discontinued Saturn Aura.

DEALER OR NOT?

Dealers generally charge more, so we decided to focus on private sellers. We hoped for an original owner who kept meticulous maintenance records. We found only one, and the vehicle sold before we could view it. Montoya says you shouldn’t buy a vehicle that has had more than two owners because tracking the car’s maintenance history is too difficult.

AVOID SALVAGE TITLES

Look to see if the car’s title is rebuilt or salvaged. Such cars were declared total losses by an insurance company and repaired. They can have bent frames, water damage or other costly problems. When you find a clean title, look closely at pictures for unrepaired body damage or stains on the interior. Those are signs of abuse.

Within the same metro area, cars can be 100 miles away. So don’t travel too far unless it’s a solid prospect.

MAKE THE CALL

The first car we viewed, a Ford Focus, looked great in the pictures. But upon inspection it was clearly abused, something we could have picked up beforehand by talking to the owner. Most of our communication, however, was by text message. So, always call the seller. Ask if they are the original owner. If not, when did they get the car? Why are they selling? All too often a seller bought the car cheap and is trying to resell for a quick buck, without regard to maintenance.

If the seller is the first or second owner, ask if the car has been wrecked. You’ll want to know how often they changed the oil _ about every 5,000 miles or less is proper for older cars, 7,500 on newer ones. Ask about rust or dents and whether the seller followed the factory maintenance schedule and if they have records. If they don’t know any of this, move on. Montoya suggests running the vehicle identification number through Autocheck or Carfax (you’ll have to pay) to find ownership and repair history before going to see the car.

Also, use the vehicle identification number and check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to see if there are any unrepaired recalls.

UNCOVERING LIES

When you look at a car, bring a rag and flashlight. Open the hood, check the oil dipstick. If the oil is dirty black, or it’s low, those are telltale signs of abuse. Likewise, automatic transmission fluid should be red and clear. If it smells burned, that’s another warning. Brake fluid, antifreeze and power steering fluid should be fairly clear and above minimum levels.

Crawl under the car with the flashlight. In cold-weather states, you’ll see rust. Look for metal flaking or holes in the exhaust system. Check for rust on the bottom of doors and in wheel wells. Also look for paint in odd places, a sign the car has been wrecked. Low-cost body shops often spray more than what they fix. Listen to the engine for squeaks.

Don’t forget the tires. Uneven wear is a sign of bad maintenance. George Washington can help here: Tread depth should cover the top of Washington’s head on a quarter. Drive the car. Does the transmission shift smoothly? Listen for front-end noises, which can signal expensive repairs. Look for dashboard warning lights.

One seller told us his Ford Focus had no dents and received regular oil changes. Yet we found a dent on the roof and a dented frame apparently from driving off the road. The car also burned oil when started. It was unclear if the guy lied or just didn’t know much about cars. Either way, we wasted a 30 mile trip.

THE FINAL STEP

Once you find the car, move quickly. You could take it to a trusted mechanic to check it out.

Check the asking price against the values on several websites including Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides. Bring up any problems (old tires, for instance) when negotiating. Try to get the car a little below the website prices.

Also, you should check how much it will cost to insure the car. Some models, such as high-horsepower versions of cars, can cost substantially more.

We ended up with a 2010 Ford Fusion with 102,000 miles on it for $6,000. It has minor body damage and a small rust spot that we’ll fix. But it should last at least five years.

 

Save

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How can I save money on my car?

“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans _ all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

Q: I need a car to get around, but I’m trying to save money. How can I keep my driving costs in check?

A: We millennials have been accused of taking on too much debt, not properly valuing home ownership, eschewing marriage and waiting too long to have kids. Add to that list car manufacturers’ fears that we don’t want cars, either, thanks to Uber, public transportation and the lingering effects of the recession.

The truth is, we need cars just like the generations before us did, and recession-era grads are, in fact, showing up at the car dealership. Auto sales reached an all-time high in 2015, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Of customers who bought or leased new cars, the share who were ages 21 to 38 rose from 17 per cent in 2010, to 28 per cent in 2015, according to data from the Power Information Network at J.D. Power.

In places where public transportation and ride-hailing are available, combining the two can be enough to get you around town, along with the occasional rental car for adventures. But many of us can’t get to work without a car or find ourselves renting one nearly every weekend. If you need your own set of wheels, these tips can keep you from getting mired in debt.

BUY USED

Straight from Captain Obvious herself comes this piece of advice: Buy a used car. That doesn’t mean giving your neighbours a few hundred bucks for a rusty 1970s clunker like my sister did when she was in her 20s. Instead, go for a 2, 3 or 4-year-old model. You’ll save almost $8,000 when you buy a 3-year-old midsized sedan instead of the latest model, according to data from car-advice website Edmunds.

Buying a used car protects you from the immediate depreciation hit of a new car, which loses almost a third of its value in the first year, according to Consumer Reports . And a used car is likely to last a long while. The average age of a passenger car on the road in 2015 hit a record 11.5 years, research firm IHS Automotive reported last year, due in part to cars’ increasing reliability.

Try one of the growing number of trusted websites and apps to search used cars in your area. Ask the dealership, or the private seller if you’re buying from someone else, for a Carfax vehicle history report for the car you’re interested in. Make sure the car has had as few owners as possible, that it hasn’t been in any major accidents, and that the owner has kept up with scheduled maintenance. Consumer Reports publishes lists of the best used cars for various budgets, starting at less than $10,000.

COMPARE MORE THAN STICKER PRICES

Before you buy, compare cars based on how much they’ll cost you over time using the five-year cost calculators on the Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book websites. When you look up the total cost of owning a car, you’ll see how much you can expect to pay in interest on your car loan, gas and maintenance.

“You’ll find some cars are more expensive to maintain, and you don’t realize that until you’ve already bought the car in some cases,” says David Bennett, manager of automotive programs at AAA.

If you need to finance your car, a higher credit score will save you money. In most cases, good credit will get you a lower interest rate, potentially as much as several percentage points lower, a lower monthly payment and a shorter loan term. Keep your credit score in top shape by paying your bills on time, maintaining low credit card balances, and avoiding applying for additional lines of credit in the months before you get a car loan.

Most importantly, get preapproved for a loan before you enter a dealership. Shop around with your bank, credit union or a trusted online lender to get a quote. If your bank offers you an interest rate of 3.9 per cent, for instance, the dealer will likely try to offer you a lower rate, Bennett says.

MINIMIZE ONGOING COSTS

Your new wheels will come with extra expenses beyond the cost of the car itself, like insurance. Compare auto insurance rates and look for discounts, including going to traffic school to remove points from your license, which lead to higher monthly premiums. Check insurance rates before you buy your car, too, because some models might cost more to insure.

There are even ways to save on gas. Use an app like GasBuddy to compare gas prices on your route, and consider using a credit card that gets you cash back on gas purchases. But take that step only if you’re prepared to pay the balance in full every month. Rewards are a lot juicier when interest charges don’t eat away at them.

 

More than $1.5B in Canadian auto investments will reverse fortunes

By Alexandra Posadzki

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ The three biggest North American automakers have committed to investing more than $1.5 billion in their Canadian operations, a move that will revitalize the auto sector, Unifor said Tuesday.

The union, which represents more than 23,000 auto workers in Canada, heralded the settlements hours after it reached a tentative agreement with Ford, concluding its negotiations with the so-called Detroit Three.

“This has been a real home run,” Unifor president Jerry Dias said in an interview.

“This is the first time in over decade that we are going to see a real reversal of the fortunes of the auto industry here in Canada.”

Heading into bargaining talks, the union made clear that its primary goal was to secure investment from the automakers in their Canadian operations. Dias had expressed concerns about the ebbing away of jobs from Canada to jurisdictions such as Mexico and the southern U.S., where labour and electricity costs are cheaper.

But the deal Unifor struck last month with General Motors marked a turning point when the company agreed to move some engine production from Mexico to St. Catharines, Ont.

“Who would have believed when we kicked off 2016 bargaining that we would have had product moving from Mexico and going to the GM plant in St. Catharines?” Dias said.

“It’s unheard of. It’s always been the other way around Canadian jobs going to Mexico.”

On Tuesday, about half an hour past a midnight strike deadline, the union representing 6,700 Canadian Ford workers announced it had reached a tentative settlement after days at the bargaining table.

The negotiations with Ford were the toughest of the three, the union said, but they resulted in a deal that, if approved during ratification votes on Saturday and Sunday, will see the automaker devote $700 million to its Canadian facilities.

Dias said the “overwhelming majority” of that investment will go to one of its two engine plants in Windsor, Ont.

A Ford Canada spokeswoman said in an email that the company will not discuss the tentative deal until after its unionized workers have had a chance to review and vote on it.

Unifor was seeking a deal similar to those it reached with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler in pattern bargaining that began in the summer.

Both Fiat Chrysler and General Motors have agreed to invest $554 million each in their Canadian operations.

Dias said a number of factors came together to allow Unifor to negotiate such favourable agreements, including the resolve among members to go on strike and the low Canadian dollar, which benefits Canadian manufacturing and exports.

“The stars were all aligned,” Dias said. “We just needed to make sure that we brought it home, and we did.”

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