Winter road and weather conditions change quickly – So should your driving

Road and weather conditions change quickly during winter. Drivers should be prepared to adjust their driving behaviour to match the conditions and address potential hazards.

On average, each year in British Columbia, the number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for conditions doubles in December compared to October – approximately 236 crashes in December compared to approximately 117 in October (ICBC Annual Average Casualty Crashes due to Driving too Fast for Conditions 2011-2015 police reported data).

This trend extends to those who drive for work. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of traumatic workplace death, and more crashes causing worker injury or death occur between October and February. (WorkSafeBC, 2016).

Be part of the solution:

  • Slow down to a safe speed. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions.
  • Install 4 matched winter tires that display the 3-peak mountain snowflake symbol. Winter tires, or all-weather tires, offer the best traction for faster stopping time and shorter stopping distance in cold weather, snow, rain and on ice. In all conditions winter tires must have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm.
  • For employers and supervisors, the Winter Driving Safety online course and Tool Kit on the Shift Into Winter website provides useful information for planning, implementing and monitoring a winter driving safety program.

Even the most confident and seasoned drivers are at risk when winter road and weather conditions change. Whether you drive for work or leisure now is the time to prepare.

Between October 1 and March 31, most B.C. highways require passenger vehicles to have 3-peak mountain snowflake tires and commercial vehicles to carry chains.

For more information about what you can do to be a safer driver this winter, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca.

Quotes:

Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, Shirley Bond

“Whether you drive to and from work, or spend much of your job on the road, every driver needs to be prepared for changeable and often challenging winter driving conditions. Being aware of the weather and planning for winter road conditions can mean the difference between a tragedy and getting home safely to your family at the end of the day.”

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Stone

“Winter poses unique travel and road maintenance challenges in B.C. One of our goals is to help keep drivers informed, prepared and travelling safely in winter conditions. We encourage drivers to be mindful of changing weather conditions, and regulate their speed accordingly, especially on high mountain passes and interior highways where conditions can change from rain to snow very quickly. ”

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Morris

“Unpredictable winter driving conditions means everyone has to be extra careful when they’re on the roads. Snow squalls and icy conditions can challenge any driver. Do your part, don’t drink and drive, don’t drive distracted – it will cost you. In 2015 alone, driver inattention contributed to at least 88 deaths in B.C. Make the safe, smart decision so all British Columbians get to their destination safely.”

RCMP “E” Division Traffic Services Officer in Charge, Supt Derek Cooke

“Everyone on our roads and highways are trying to get to their destinations safely. British Columbia has unique terrain, and weather and road conditions that can change quickly. If we all plan ahead, give ourselves extra time to reach our destination, and have the proper equipment on our vehicles we can prevent unnecessary collisions, and ensure that everyone arrives alive.”

ICBC President and CEO, Mark Blucher

“During fall and winter, drivers need to adjust their driving for the road conditions they encounter, allow extra travel time and ensure their vehicle is properly equipped for every trip. For the safety of everyone on our roads, slow down, increase your following distance to at least four seconds and use extra caution – especially when approaching intersections. Anything drivers can do to avoid crashes will help reduce claims costs and the pressure on insurance rates.”

WorkSafeBC Vice President, Prevention Services, Al Johnson

“Every morning hundreds of BC workers get out of bed and get into vehicles to drive our roads…delivery vans, transports, buses and tow trucks. Driving is their job. We know that workers are more at risk of injury when they drive for work during the winter months because driving conditions are more extreme. Organizations can prepare now for that heightened risk by putting together a winter driving safety program and communicating it effectively to their staff with the online resources from Shift into Winter. Being prepared can save lives.”

About the Winter Driving Safety Alliance

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is a joint provincial initiative comprised of organizations committed to improving the safety of drivers during the winter months. They are the Ambulance Paramedics of BC CUPE 873, B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, Justice Institute of British Columbia, Mainroad Group, B.C. Forest Safety Council, B.C. Trucking Association, Finning, Insurance Corporation of B.C., Kal Tire, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Pacific Coach Lines, RCMP, WorkSafeBC, the Automotive Retailers Association, the Trucking Safety Council of B.C., the City of Prince George, and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.

SOURCE Road Safety At Work

Automated Vehicle Technology Not Driverless Yet

Startling results of a national public opinion survey about automated vehicles revealed that public misperceptions and over-confidence in these technologies may have unintended consequences for driver behaviour. The May 2016 poll was released today by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) in partnership with the Toyota Canada Foundation (TCF). More than 2,600 Canadian drivers responded to the poll that investigated driver knowledge, attitudes, and practices in relation to much anticipated, semi- and fully-automated vehicles.

The increasing availability of advanced safety features that work in tandem, such as lane-keeping and forward collision warning systems, have been an important step towards the development of automated vehicles. Currently, expectations are high that the advent of semi- or fully-automated vehicles will dramatically reduce road crashes and produce a range of other benefits. But whether these gains are achieved will ultimately depend entirely on drivers.

“The results of this poll demonstrated that the limitations of automated vehicle technology are not well-understood by the general public” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF and lead researcher on the study. “Almost 1 in 6 Canadians believed that they would not have to be attentive when driving a semi-automated vehicle, and that they would not have to be prepared to take control of it unexpectedly.”

Equally concerning, at least some drivers reported they would be more willing to take risks when using a semi-automated vehicle. Almost 25% of drivers reported they would drive tired or fatigued, and 17% would engage in a non-driving activity such as texting, reading or working more than they do now. And, 10% and 9% of drivers respectively indicated that they would be more willing to sleep or nap behind the wheel, or drink and drive.

“Some organizations will tell you that automated vehicle technology is intended to replace the driver. Our view is that advanced active safety technology is meant to enhance a driver’s control of their vehicle, but that it is not a replacement for a knowledgeable and attentive driver.”, said Stephen Beatty, Vice-President, Corporate at Toyota Canada, Inc. “This study tells us that we, as an industry, still have lots of work to do when it comes to educating drivers about the capabilities and limitations of the technology.”

There are many outstanding driver issues that have not yet been addressed, and it is important to underscore the distinction between what automated technology can currently do, and what it may be able to do in the future. Results of the TIRF poll indicated that Canadians will want to use semi-automated vehicles to drive in bad weather, heavy traffic and poor road conditions, but these are precisely the conditions under which automated technology is currently most likely to fail.

According to Robertson, “These findings underscored that drivers are not aware of their continued role in the safety equation as these vehicles become available. Such misperceptions have real potential to negatively affect driver behaviour and result in either unintentional misuse or abuse of technologies that are able to assist drivers, but not replace them.”

The results of this study also shed light on other key issues that will have important implications for driver acceptance of automated vehicles, and their willingness to use them. In particular, public opinion was varied regarding the cost of insurance and who should be assigned liability or fault in collisions involving automated vehicles. In addition, expectations regarding ethical decision-making algorithms that will shape the way automated vehicles respond in an unavoidable crash were divided in terms of whether vehicle occupants should be protected, or vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

Overall, findings from this poll highlighted that education and awareness must keep pace with automated vehicle technology to avoid increased risk-taking by drivers. The prevalence of misperceptions about the capabilities of this technology, and its limitations is concerning. Governments, manufacturers and road safety stakeholders are important partners that must work cooperatively to fill this critical gap.

Download full AV report:

Download Executive Summary report: 

Brain on Board. In 2013, TIRF launched its first bilingual national education program, created with funding from the Toyota Canada Foundation. It is a one-stop-shop to learn about the many vehicle safety features that are rapidly becoming standard on vehicles, and how to maximize the protection they provide by combining them with safe driving behaviours. Brain on Board contains a wealth of free online and downloadable resources, videos, posters, diagrams, fact sheets and flash cards. Educational materials based on the automated vehicle survey will be made available soon. Visit www.brainonboard.ca or www.cerveauabord.ca.

About the poll. These results are based on a public opinion poll developed by TIRF. Data were collected by Nielsen among a total of 2,662 Canadians, who completed the poll in April and May 2016. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 1.9%, 19 times out of 20. The majority of the questions were answered using a scale from one to six where six indicated high agreement, concern, or support and one indicated low agreement, concern or support. All of the respondents completed the survey online.

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

About the Toyota Canada Foundation. The Toyota Canada Foundation is a national not-for-profit, private charitable foundation, with a long-standing commitment to the Environment, Education, and Safety. The Foundation supports charitable and non-profit organizations dedicated to good work in these areas. 

SOURCE Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF)

5 best times to buy a new car

5 best times to buy a new car

By Philip Reed

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

That chill in the air signals not only the onset of autumn but also cooling auto sales. For bargain hunters, this could be a great time to get a good deal on a new car.

But sales downturns aren’t the only time to buy a new car. New model rollouts, carmakers’ redesign schedules and other events can uncover bargains for those who know how to read the tea leaves of the auto market.

Just picking an opportune time isn’t enough. First, cover the basics: Arrange financing, check local dealer inventories, and research pricing guides for the current market value of your desired vehicle.

Then, consider these five potential opportunities to up your chances of snagging a bargain.

1. MODEL CHANGEOVER

The big three U.S. carmakers launch their new models in August and September while some foreign carmakers sprinkle new-vehicle introductions across the calendar. Most buyers are drawn to the newest models, which pressures dealers to offer deeper discounts and incentives to clear their inventory of the previous year’s models.

“We’re at a critical time where dealers need to clear out 2016 inventory to make room for 2017’s, and that’s good news for shoppers who will see some great deals on outgoing models in the coming weeks,” says Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at car shopping site Edmunds.com.

That means  “as a consumer I’m not going to have to arm-wrestle or play the back-and-forth game to get a good price,” says Dave Cavano, AAA’s car buying expert. Dealers “are much more likely to cut to the bone more quickly so it’s less of a hassle.”

Current bargains are available in compact sedans and luxury vehicle segments, while pickup trucks and SUVs still are commanding higher prices, says Steven Szakaly, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Auto sales dropped 4 per cent year-over-year in August, but Szakaly calls it a “plateau.” In fact, 2016 is shaping up to be a strong year with an expected sale of 17.7 million vehicles, the association predicts.

Meanwhile, figures from car shopping site TrueCar show the average transaction prices for 2015 and 2016 dropping across the summer and into fall while sale incentives remain high _ which is a good combination for buyers.

Cavano warns that buyers shopping for newly redesigned or recently introduced models will pay dearly for wanting to be the “first on the block to own that car.” Manufacturers “trickle out” a few vehicles for each dealer to drive up interest. Eager buyers will have to pay sticker price and sometimes a bit more.

2. END-OF-MONTH PRESSURE

Of all the days of the month, traditionally the last five are when dealers have the greatest incentive to sell.

That’s because some carmakers offer bonuses when dealers hit certain sales numbers, says Christian Wardlaw, an analyst for the New York Daily News’ autos section. “Dealers know they can take a loss on that vehicle because they know they’ll get the bonus for hitting their quotas,” Wardlaw says.

These kinds of bargains are more common at high-volume domestic dealers. However, it’s hard for the average consumer to know which dealers are facing the pressure to hit quotas, Szakaly points out. Shopping at the end of the month can help you better your odds. “You’re hoping you are the lucky person who walks in at the end of the month and the dealer is missing the one sale he needs,” he says.

3. YEAR-END SALES

The final week of the year brings with it some great deals, particularly from luxury carmakers such as Lexus, Mercedes and BMW, Cavano says. It’s when “manufacturers are trying to eke out those last few sales . and they will push money out to their dealers and say, ‘OK guys, let’s get this done.”’

Keep in mind, however, that with dwindling inventories, you might not be able to get your first choice of colour and options.

4. MODEL REDESIGN

When manufacturers redesign models, dealers have both the outgoing and new models for sale at the same time. That leads them to offer incentives and discounts to get rid of older models.

Of course, the resale value of the vehicle would be lower. And sometimes, the new model may be “heads and tails better than the outgoing model,” Wardlaw says.

5. LAST YEAR OF A MODEL’S PRODUCTION

This tip is for serious penny pinchers. When a car is being discontinued or “rebranded” as a different model, the outgoing model’s prices drop even more dramatically. Examples on the market include the 2016 Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, according to Edmunds’ handy list of best leftover cars for 2016. Current pricing in California for the Chrysler 200 shows a savings of nearly $5,000 off the sticker price, according to TrueCar’s pricing.

Times when you shouldn’t buy a car follows a simple pattern, according to these experts. When there is plenty of foot traffic on the car lot, the dealer will keep prices higher, believing there will be a better offer from another shopper. So weekend afternoons aren’t optimal because besides higher pricing, the sales staff will be busy and test-drives will be rushed. Instead, shop mid-week, communicating with dealers via text or emails.

Swapping advice about car buying is a great sport for buyers, and Wardlaw has a final recommendation: Don’t be lured by the promise of crazy deals. “When it comes down to it, the best time to buy a car is when you really need one,” he says.

Should you buy or lease a vehicle?

By Anne Drewa | Global News

When it comes to buying or leasing a vehicle, the answer isn’t clear-cut. Much depends on your lifestyle.

“How will you use it? Who is going to ride in it? How much do you drive? How long did you own your previous car to really get a sense of what you need,” Blair Qualey, President and CEO New Car Dealers Association, said.
Once you’ve selected your dream vehicle, now comes the question many consumers struggle with – how do you pay for it? Do you buy or lease? When you decide to lease, you are often driving a new vehicle under warranty.

“I call it the longest test drive,” Zack Spencer of motormouth.ca said. “You can lease it for three or four years. If you really love the car, just pay the remaining amount and keep the car. It’s just another way of buying a car.

“It really comes down to what you do. Often if you work in sales, for example, you can run the expenses of a lease through your business.”

While leasing is generally lower than financing, it’s not always the case.

“On a purchase some people forget the fact that there’s a bunch of maintenance that’s going to come after a few years that you won’t have to do likely in a lease, but the lease is an opportunity to keep your monthly payments low,” Qualey said. “In the long run, however, you probably might have paid more for that period of time than if you had purchased.”

Also keep in mind, leasing comes with mileage restrictions, which could potentially hit you in the pocket book down the road. “You are still required to maintain the vehicle as you would if you bought the car. You are required to bring it back in reasonable shape considering the mileage that is on it. If you don’t, you could be dinged for repairs,” Spencer said.

If regularly upgrading your vehicle to the latest model isn’t a priority and you like to own a vehicle for years, then buying may be a good option. “If you’ve owned your previous vehicle for 10 years, you are probably someone that likes to buy and own a vehicle,” Qualey said.

Once you’ve paid off that vehicle, you’ll be free of monthly car payments, providing your vehicle serves you well and stays out of the shop.

Car Dealer Terminology Explained–Part 2: Leasing a New Vehicle

JD Powers

Car leasing does not work the same way as car buying. Prior to leasing a new vehicle, it is important for consumers to understand how leasing is different, as well as to understand the unique terminology associated with vehicle leases. This article explains common leasing terminology to help consumers educate themselves about the leasing process and the concepts associated with it. The words and phrases are listed below, in alphabetical order.

Acquisition Fee
Sometimes called an initiation fee, an acquisition fee is what a person leasing a vehicle pays at the beginning of the lease for the privilege of leasing a vehicle. Nearly all leases contain either an acquisition fee or a termination fee, which is paid at the end of the lease. People leasing a vehicle should expect to pay one of these fees, but not both. Be sure your lease contract stipulates which fee is required, and the amount of the fee.

Capitalized Cost
When leasing a vehicle, the capitalized cost is the negotiated selling price of the vehicle, upon which the lease payments are based. When leasing a model that is in high demand and low supply, the capitalized cost may be the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or higher. Leases for other models should have a capitalized cost that is near dealer invoice price.

Keep in mind that many advertised lease deals are subsidized leases, meaning that the auto manufacturer determines, in advance, the financial variables used to calculate the lease payment and takes on a certain degree of risk in order to create an attractive or class-competitive payment. Generally, consumers cannot negotiate the capitalized cost of a subsidized lease.

Capitalized Cost Reduction
When leasing a vehicle, the capitalized cost reduction–a fancy term for down payment–equates to the amount of any money you put down to lower the overall cost of the lease. Often, subsidized leases require a capitalized cost reduction to help eliminate some of the financial risk taken on by the auto manufacturer in order to create an appealing and competitive lease payment.

Depreciation
Depreciation refers to the amount of value a new vehicle loses, both the moment it is driven off the dealership lot and becomes a used car, and over time as the vehicle ages and accumulates miles. This term is most often used when discussing a lease, rather than a loan, as it has a much greater financial impact on the monthly payment on a lease deal.

Extended Warranty
Sold as an extra-cost item, an extended warranty provides protection against vehicle defects after the original factory warranty expires. When leasing a car, an extended warranty is usually unnecessary because most leases are written to fall within the time and mileage limits of the standard warranty. Generally, experts agree that consumers should not lease a car for longer than the time and mileage limits of the original factory warranty.

F&I
An abbreviation for “finance and insurance,” F&I refers to the car dealership department that finalizes the details of the consumer’s lease contract while the new vehicle is prepared for delivery to the consumer. When leasing a new vehicle, the F&I department may offer to sell the consumer additional products and services, including service contracts, gap insurance, anti-theft protection, and more.

Gap Insurance
Gap insurance protects a consumer who leases a vehicle against the difference between the value of the vehicle and the total cost of the vehicle’s residual value plus any remaining lease payments due as a part of the lease contract. Because the leased vehicle depreciates, especially during its first years in service, the amount of money a car insurance company is willing to pay in the event the leased vehicle is stolen or damaged beyond repair is sometimes less than the total obligation held by the consumer who leased the vehicle. Without gap insurance, the consumer may owe hundreds or thousands of dollars in addition to whatever settlement amount he or she receives from a car insurance company.

Money Factor
The amount of interest paid with each lease payment is called a money factor, or a lease rate. To convert the money factor to the equivalent of a conventional loan interest rate expressed as a percentage, multiply the money factor by 24. For example, a money factor of .0028 converts to the equivalent of a 6.7% APR interest rate on a conventional car loan.

Residual Value
Residual value, also called depreciation, is a leasing term that describes the predicted amount of money that a vehicle will be worth at the end of a lease. Residual values are often expressed as percentages of original vehicle value. For example, a car with a $25,000 MSRP and a 45% residual value after 4 years is predicted to be worth $11,250 after 4 years of ownership.

Service Contract
A service contract is an agreement to pay up front for discounted service at the dealership that provided the lease for your vehicle. Service contracts work well for people who plan to have a dealer service the vehicle and who don’t require flexibility with regard to service provider choice. Before buying a service contract, make sure the brand of vehicle selected does not offer free scheduled maintenance for a limited time.

Spiff
Spiffs are temporary incentives paid to car dealers and car salespeople to help lease more new vehicles. The more new vehicles leased within a certain period of time, the more extra money the dealership or salespeople can make. For individual deals, however, the amount of the spiff is generally not large enough to make a significant difference in terms of the monthly lease payment, even if the dealer or salesperson wants to pass part or all of the spiff to the consumer in order to bring the deal to a close.

Subsidized Lease
A subsidized lease is one for which the financial variables used to determine the monthly payment are set in advance by the auto manufacturer. Typically, subsidized leases are designed to provide an appealing monthly payment that is competitive within the vehicle class and often require that the car company take on a certain degree of risk associated with the financial variables used to generate the payment. Sometimes the car dealer can adjust the financial variables to make the lease more appealing to a consumer, but any modifications typically result in minor changes to the terms and payment.

Termination Fee
A leasing term that is sometimes called a disposition fee, a termination fee is what a person leasing a vehicle pays at the end of the lease for the privilege of leasing a vehicle. Nearly all leases contain either a termination fee or an acquisition fee, which is paid at the beginning of the lease. People leasing a vehicle should expect to pay one of these fees, but not both. Be sure your lease contract stipulates which fee is required, and the amount of the fee.

Trade-in Value
Consumers who want to trade their old vehicle in when leasing a new vehicle should be prepared to accept trade-in value for the old vehicle, rather than retail or private party value. This is the amount of money a car dealer is willing to pay for the consumer’s old vehicle and is typically lower than what the consumer could get for the vehicle by selling it himself or herself to a private party.

The reasons that trade-in value is lower than other used car valuations is because the car dealer assumes all risk associated with the old vehicle by accepting it in trade. If the dealer can sell the old vehicle, the dealer must pay to have the car inspected, reconditioned, and detailed prior to sale. If the dealer chooses not to sell the old vehicle, it must be transported to auction and sold for what is likely to be a low amount.

Upside Down
If a consumer wants to trade in an older vehicle to lease a new vehicle, and the consumer owes more for the older vehicle than it is worth as a trade-in, the consumer is “upside down” on the trade-in. This is not a deal-breaker for the car dealer. However, consumers who are upside down on their trade-in need to understand that the difference between the value of the older vehicle and the amount owed on the older vehicle will be rolled into the lease payment on the new vehicle, resulting in a higher payment–perhaps by a significant amount.

Wear and Tear Charges
When a consumer leases a new vehicle, the consumer does not own the vehicle (the financial institution or leasing company holds the title). Rather, the consumer is borrowing, or renting, the vehicle over time. At the end of the lease, the vehicle must be returned to the financial institution that provided the lease.

If a returned lease vehicle has been driven more miles than were agreed upon at the start of the lease, shows an unusual amount of wear on the inside or the outside due to indifferent care and maintenance, or exhibits unrepaired damage, the financial institution that provided the lease will charge the consumer for excessive wear and tear, an amount that could total hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Consumers who lease a vehicle must take very good care of the leased vehicle. In the event the vehicle is driven too many miles or has not been properly cared for, the consumer might want to consider buying the vehicle at the end of the lease to avoid excessive wear and tear charges.

BY JEFF YOUNGS

Insurance companies take cautious approach to driverless cars

Insurance companies take cautious approach to driverless cars

Excerpted article was written By Jenny Yuen, TORONTO SUN

TORONTO – Driverless cars may be the future, but insurance companies still need to assess their risk.

According to predictions from American insurance broker Aon Plc — recently quoted in the Washington Post — U.S. auto insurance premiums will drop more than 40% once society fully adopts the use of automated vehicles by 2050. In theory, roads will become safer when computers do the driving.

But in Canada, insurance companies are taking a more cautious approach.

“When it comes to driverless cars, insurers will need to assess the risks and determine products and pricing based on those risks,” said Andrew McGrath, spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“Our industry is becoming increasingly information-based, technologically connected and even more globalized. A competitive market sparks innovative products and solutions.”

At the beginning of the year, Ontario became the first province in the country to allow testing of autonomous vehicles. The City of Stratford hopes to be the first live testing ground.

“While testing is underway in Canada, a functional and available driverless car is a ways out on the horizon,” McGrath said. “That being said, the insurance industry is always there to identify new risks and provide the needed coverage. But for now, car manufacturers are racing to improve safety.

“Emerging technologies could lead to ‘zero fatality’ roads,” he added. “We already see high-end vehicles that warn you (when you) drive too close, alert you to vehicles in your blind spot, and even park themselves.”

Released earlier this year, the Insurance Institute of Canada’s report, Automated Vehicles — Implications for the Insurance Industry in Canada, found that over the next decade and into the future, vehicle automation will shift responsibility for collisions to a mix of driver error and vehicle failure.

“The issues emerging as a result of vehicle automation will present many challenges for the insurance industry, regulators, and other stakeholders, largely due to the expected speed of change. Much preparation needs to be completed in a short period of time,” the report states.

Recommendations from the report include informing drivers and other stakeholders about the importance of insurance protection for all vehicles — including driverless cars — and the correlation between the price of insurance coverage and the cost of claims paid.

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