Do I need a licence to drive on private property?

The excerpted article was written by THE GLOBE AND MAIL

I recently bought a place down in Nova Scotia with 20 acres of land. Do I need a drivers licence to drive my pickup to plow the road on my own land? Also, do I need to have registration and insurance? – Kevin

As long as you stay home on the range, you probably don’t technically need a licence, registration or insurance to drive a car or truck.

But without them, you might not be protected if that truck is stolen, vandalized or hits somebody.

Nova Scotia’s Motor Vehicle Act requires drivers to be licensed and vehicles to be registered and insured when driving on “a public highway, street, lane, road, alley, park, beach or place including the bridges thereon,” said Marla MacInnis, spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, in an e-mail.

If you’re on private property, those rules generally don’t apply – unless “the private property is designed to be and is accessible for the general public.”

So, you’d need a licence and registration in a Costco parking lot, for instance. But you wouldn’t need them on your own land as long as you’re not operating a business that’s open to the public.

So, technically, anybody could drive your farm truck – even someone who isn’t old enough to get a licence or someone who has a suspended licence – as long as they stay on your property.

When that vehicle leaves your property, even just to cross a public road, it needs to be registered and insured, and you need a licence to drive it.

GO PUBLIC?

The rules are similar across Canada – you don’t need a licence, registration or insurance to drive a motor vehicle on private property.

But in practice, it could get tricky. Your driveway could be considered a public road if you don’t have a gate. If you hit somebody while plowing it, police could decide to charge you with driving without a licence, insurance and registration.

“Unless you are assured that access to the private land of a farm or a business is controlled – for example, by a barrier – and limited to vehicles authorized by the owner, it would be hazardous to drive without the correct class of license and without the registration certificate and proof of insurance of the vehicle,” said Anne Marie Dussault Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), a Crown corporation responsible for licensing, in an e-mail.

Provincial traffic laws generally don’t apply on private property if nobody else can access it. Ontario’s the only province where the Highway Traffic Act doesn’t applyeven on private property at all, even if the public does have access to it.

But in every province, you could still face charges under the Criminal Code of Canada if you crash a vehicle and injure someone.

REST INSURED?

If you’re driving without insurance on your own land, you’re on your own if there’s trouble.

“You would have no coverage for theft or fire [and no coverage for] liability if you hit something or someone,” said Steve Kee, spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, in an email.

If you have home insurance, it would cover things like riding lawnmowers, but it wouldn’t cover cars, trucks or off-road vehicles, Kee said.

Without liability insurance, you wouldn’t be covered if you’re sued for damages or injuries after a crash.

“Any vehicle without liability coverage is a liability,” Kee said.

Parental Consent and Control of New Drivers

New Driver Signs 2011A young person’s brain is not fully matured until the age of 25. The prefrontal cortex manages executive functions such as impulse control and weighing consequences but may not do a great job of it for teenagers. If you are faced with a teen driver who is consistently making bad choices, what do you do?

This is a serious consideration as the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit says that motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and death across all ages in BC.

The stage is set by parents long before the child learns to drive. As with many things in life, our children tend to follow our example. As I discussed in Perpetuating Mediocrity, some parents are ill equipped to teach a new driver.

The Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) sets some restrictions on new drivers to limit their exposure to risk. Parents need to be supportive in ensuring that these restrictions are obeyed and by establishing reasonable expectations for driving behaviour. If these expectations are consistently not met, there need to be explicit consequences. You may even consider the use of a family contract as a pre-condition before granting permission for your child’s first licence.

In the days before the GLP parents had a strong control over their children who had not reached the age of 18. If the child was not driving properly the parent could withdraw their consent and ICBC would cancel the child’s drivers licence. This was an effective control over wayward young drivers.

The problem with this was that some parents used the system to impose their will on children for purposes not related to driving. This became apparent and the privilege was removed from the legislation. Once the child was licensed, the courts or the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles were the only entities that could cancel drivers licences.

If the child did not own their own vehicle, the only control that parents had was to restrict access to a vehicle. This is not as effective these days as many young people aged 16 and 17 do own their own vehicles.

There are still two tools of last resort that a parent can use to stop an irresponsible youth from driving before they harm themselves or others.

The first is a letter to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. If the Superintendent is satisfied that the youth presents a danger, he may prohibit the person from driving in the public interest. Police will enforce the prohibition.

The second is to withdraw consent for the registration and licensing of the youth’s vehicle by writing to ICBC. The licence plates will be cancelled, effectively ending the ability to drive that vehicle legally. The police will also enforce driving without proper vehicle licence.

This is not a step to be take lightly by parents. If the withdrawal of consent for registration and vehicle licensing is abused, no doubt it will also be removed from the legislation as well.

References:

Ontario’s average cost of auto insurance among the most expensive in the country

CBC News 

Auto insurance rates in Ontario are increasing by as much as 11 per cent this year, despite promises from the Ford government to reduce premiums.

Radio-Canada has learned that the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has given the green light to increases in automobile insurance premiums for some 20 insurance companies in the province.

“Approved rates will increase on average by 1.56 per cent when applied across the total market,” the FSRA quarterly update states, with some insurers approved to increases rates by just over 11 per cent and others by around 10 per cent.

The Ford government promised major reform of the auto insurance system back in April of 2019 when its first budget was tabled.

The changes were aimed at increasing the range of plans available to drivers, making the claim process easier to navigate, and creating more competition between insurance providers.

There was no specific plan to reduce premiums but then finance minister Vic Fedeli called the proposal “transformative” at the time.

Ontario has one of the lowest accident and death rates in the country, but the average cost of auto insurance in the province is among the most expensive, according to data collected by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

Ontario has the second highest average cost of auto insurance ringing in at $1,505.

All other provinces and territories trail Ontario, which comes second only to British Columbia, which has an average premium of $1,832.

Quebec has the with lowest insurance costs, averaging at $717, according to the IBC.

B.C. government to squeeze lawyers, legal costs out of public auto insurance

By Laura Kane

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ The British Columbia government is moving to curtail legal costs in the public auto insurance system by severely limiting the ability of injured people to sue at-fault drivers after a crash.

The announcement Thursday drew backlash from lawyers who argued it would put vulnerable residents at risk, while disability advocates and doctors voiced hope that benefits would increase.

Premier John Horgan called it a “pivotal moment” for the beleaguered Insurance Corporation of B.C., which has hemorrhaged $2.5 billion dollars over the past two years while premiums skyrocketed.

“People deserve lower rates. People deserve better care. They deserve to be treated fairly,” he told a news conference.  “That’s what a renewed ICBC can present to the people of British Columbia today.”

Horgan said his government will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to require ICBC to assist every person who makes a claim and ensure they receive all the benefits and care they need.

The move will mean people injured in a collision will no longer need to hire a lawyer and sue the at-fault driver, who is then defended by the insurance corporation, to access the maximum benefits, he said.

Horgan said the change will lower premiums by about 20 per cent or an average of $400 in annual savings per driver. It will increase maximum care and treatment benefits for injured people from $300,000 to at least $7.5 million, while eliminating pain and suffering payouts.

If the legislation is passed, it will take effect in May 2021.

Attorney General David Eby acknowledged that a challenge in the transition will be the lack of public trust in ICBC.

The previous system has required ICBC to attempt to limit benefits and litigate against injured drivers, while also being the company meant to provide supports to those same people, he said.

“The difference in legal direction is night and day. ICBC’s sole focus will be on helping British Columbians recover and get back to their daily lives,” he said.

Eby said people can still sue at-fault drivers if they are convicted of a criminal offence, such as impaired driving, and they can also sue a vehicle manufacturer if a defect contributed to the crash.

If a customer has a complaint about the auto insurer, they can turn to a recently announced ICBC fairness officer, the B.C. ombudsperson or the independent Civil Resolution Tribunal, which accepts claims of up to $5,000 in value.

Customers can file for a judicial review of a Civil Resolution Tribunal decision in court and there may also be some limited scenarios where one could sue ICBC, the government said.

Eby has previously called the financial situation at the public auto insurer a  “dumpster fire,” and his government expects the changes to free up more than $1.5 billion to lower rates by 2022.

The Opposition Liberals have called for more choice in the auto-insurance sector but Eby said the highest rate increases are happening in private markets including Alberta and Ontario.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have similar public systems to the one B.C. is proposing and they have kept rate changes steady, near zero per cent, Eby said.

“In that comparison, B.C.’s rates look outrageous and our benefits miserly,” he said.

While some will describe this as a “no-fault” system, Eby insisted it was not because a driver who is responsible for a crash will still pay more for their insurance.

He said he anticipated legal challenges but was confident the legislation was constitutional, noting that Manitoba and Saskatchewan have successfully defended their systems in court.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. called the announcement an “alarming move” that puts injured and vulnerable residents at risk.

“This government is doubling down on its failed policy to take away the legal rights of British Columbians,” said association president John Rice.

The Law Society of B.C. said it expects significant effects on compensation to victims and it will be closely monitoring the situation.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson criticized the government for abolishing pain and suffering payouts.

“If you’re seriously injured in an accident the NDP will force you to deal with ICBC for the rest of your life, giving you no choice but to deal with the state-run monopoly,” he said in a statement.

Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance B.C., said she was encouraged by the move and her organization will work closely with ICBC to ensure that injured people can access all the benefits and supports they need.

Under the new model, doctors and other medical professionals, not ICBC will design care plans for injured people.

The province said it had already consulted with the medical community and would consult more widely before it introduces the legislation.

Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of the Doctors of BC, said in a statement that the new system will mean “major increases” in the level of medical care and supports for recovery.

“The new care-based model provides significantly better coverage for people injured in traffic accidents,” she said.

Evo Car Share Announces Expansion

BURNABY, BCFeb. 5, 2020 /CNW/ – Evo Car Share, created by BCAA, will keep more Metro Vancouverites mobile, announcing 250 more Evos will hit the roads this spring with the potential for further expansion.

“Evo is a local company dedicated to this region and we’re here to stay,” says Tai Silvey, VP Evo Car Share. As Evo looks ahead and becomes the only one-way car share in the area from the end of February, Silvey says, “Evo is stepping up – we’re investing significantly and doing everything possible to get more Evos on the road and keep expanding to meet growing demand.”

The 250 new hybrid cars will arrive in April. Technology and systems enhancements to help more people book smoothly during peak times is coming in the weeks ahead. Silvey aims to expand Evo’s fleet again this summer and confirms he’s discussing policy adjustments with the City of Vancouver to support continued expansion.

Evo Car Share launched almost five years ago, and the 250 new cars will take its 100 per cent hybrid fleet of Evos to 1,750. Evo Car Share has decreased the number of privately-owned cars on Vancouver’s roads significantly over the last four years and continued expansion will accelerate this reduction. Evo’s current 1,500 Toyota Prius Hybrids typically complete over 10,000 trips per a day. Evo’s total fleet has replaced approximately 13,500 privately owned vehicles helping to drive a reduction in vehicle kilometers travelled by over 19,000 kms per vehicle annually.

Evo members can use the service and pick up or drop off anywhere in the Evo home zone covering areas around VancouverNorth VancouverBurnabyNew Westminster and satellites serving UBC, Cap U, SFU and Grouse Mountain.

About Evo
Created by BCAA, Evo Car Share is B.C.’s primary pick-up and drop-off anywhere car sharing service and offers a full fleet of four-door, hybrid vehicles with room for five passengers, cargo space and ski/bike racks. Evo aims to meet the changing mobility needs of British Columbians, whether or not they own a car. Learn more at evo.ca

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, car and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full automotive services at BCAA’s Auto Service Centres across the province. BCAA has a long history focused on keeping kids safe on the road and at play through community programs such as its School Safety PatrolChild Passenger Safety and BCAA Play Here. Learn more at bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA)

Related Links

www.bcaa.com

Companies blame distracted drivers, complex cars as auto insurance increases pile up

New Brunswick drivers caused $380M in insured damage in 2018

Robert Jones · CBC News

Two of New Brunswick’s biggest auto insurers began implementing rate hikes on customers of up to 35 per cent over the weekend.

It’s the latest and largest in a parade of steep insurance increases the province has been hit with over the past two years that are being blamed on wrecks caused by distracted drivers and on technology-laden vehicles that have become expensive to fix after even minor accidents.

“What we’re seeing particularly in New Brunswick is that car insurance prices are increasing,” said Justin Thouin, chief executive officer of the national auto insurance bargain hunting website lowestrates.ca.

“They have been increasing, they still are increasing and we predict them to continue to increase.”

On Saturday, auto insurers Unifund and Royal and Sun Alliance (RSA), which are both owned by Johnson Insurance, were cleared to begin charging average premium increases on new customers in New Brunswick of 24.5 per cent and 21.3 per cent, respectively, and up to 35 per cent on some higher risk clients.

Similar rate hikes take effect March 1 on existing customers who renew policies with the companies after that date.

The two insurers combine to cover 40,000 vehicles in New Brunswick, about 1 in 12 on the road. The increases approved by the New Brunswick Insurance Board are worth just under $200 and will be enough to push premiums on the average vehicle they cover close to $1,000.

Royal and Sun Alliance understands that automobile insurance premiums are significant expenses for our insureds and 24.5 per cent is a significant increase compared to the rate level we are currently charging,” said the company in a joint submission with Unifund to the insurance board last fall.

“However, this difficult decision has been carefully thought out and is necessary for Royal Sun Alliance to operate a sustainable business and maintain capacity to deliver the best insurance products and customer service possible to our customers in New Brunswick.”

Big players raising rates

The increases are the latest in a series of rate hikes imposed on drivers by New Brunswick’s largest auto insurance companies over the last two years.

The largest company, Wawanesa, which covers about 85,000 vehicles in New Brunswick was cleared to raise rates in mid January an average of 8.6 per cent on customers, including up to 35 per cent on those considered to be higher risk. That’s on top of an average 11.7 per cent increase the company won the previous January.

Intact, the province’s third largest insurer, began imposing average increases of 12 per cent on its clients in September and Economical, New Brunswick’s second largest auto insurer, won the right to raise rates 14 per cent last April.

Economical has also made an application to raise rates another 11.8 per cent this spring but is still waiting on a decision on that request from the insurance board.

Companies blame premium hikes on rising insurance claims being made by drivers and specifically point to increasing accident rates they say are caused by people paying too much attention to things happening inside their vehicles and not enough to the road in front of them.

In addition, companies say when accidents do happen sophisticated electronics inside modern cars are driving up repair costs.

In November, the Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company cited both issues in its application to the New Brunswick Insurance Board for a 15 per cent rate hike.

“The sensors and electronics distributed all around the car have made even simple claims such as fender-benders much more costly to fix. Many repair shops have also had to hire more costly technicians with the appropriate expertise to handle repairs on newer more advanced vehicles,” said the company in its submission.

“On top of the higher repair cost for similar accidents, distracted driving has led to increased frequency of accidents and full speed collisions.”

Insured damage on the rise

According to Canada’s General Insurance Statistical Agency, New Brunswick drivers caused $380.2 million in insured damage in 2018, an increase of $85 million over four years. Part of that was caused by a jump in the total number of accidents and part by a jump in the individual cost of each accident.

Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh with the New Brunswick RCMP said impaired driving, speeding and passengers not wearing seatbelts are still the most common causes of serious injuries on the road in New Brunswick but agreed distracted drivers are adding to the problem.

“It is certainly something we continue to see,” she said. “It is considered to be part of being a danger on the road.”

Thouin said recent premium increases in all six provinces served by private auto insurers, including New Brunswick, have begun to trigger a rush of people looking online for better deals if they can find them.

“People tend to not think about shopping for insurance until they see a change that they don’t like,” he said.

“We’re seeing double-digit, in some cases triple-digit, increases in terms of people looking for better deals on insurance.”

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