Complaints Anonymous – A Traffic Violator Database Proposal

I never know what I will find when I check the DriveSmartBC e-mail in-box. Today’s gem came from someone who identifies themself as Grumpy and suggested that they were thinking that maybe I could use the web site to contain a database such that when a bad driver is witnessed, the public could enter the details of the driving offence. No personal information need be provided.

The writer went on to say that the main benefit of the database is that we could keep a count of the number of offences for a particular driver. If say, a license plate gets reported 3 or more times then the police could/should automatically investigate this person.

In a perfect world, the only entries in this database would be honest ones. No one would ever think of causing problems for another by flooding it with malicious information, misinterpretation of an event or insufficient detail.

A vehicle’s licence plate only serves to identify who owns the vehicle, not who was driving at a specific time. Yes, the owner must take reasonable steps to identify the driver when police notify them that the vehicle has been involved in a contravention but would you be able to report who was driving your vehicle at a particular time 6 months ago?

It’s the “no personal information need be provided” part that causes me the most concern. That says to me “I’m not willing to be accountable for the information that I am providing.” I think that with a little more thought, Grumpy would also not be willing to accept being the focus of an investigation under this system.

There is a database almost like this implemented in British Columbia right now. It’s called PRIME, the Police Records Information Management Environment. I’m guessing that Grumpy’s difficulty is that every time you try and add a record, you are asked for your name, address, birth date and telephone number by the complaint taker. Many people truly are reluctant to provide this information. At this point, I got the impression that many of them just wanted the police to wave their magic baton and have the problem go away.

It doesn’t work that way. If you want to solve the problem, you have to be a part of that solution.

Unfortunately, even when you are ready, willing and able to participate, the outcome could be less than what you are hoping for. Sometimes it can be much less. Perhaps this is why Grumpy is proposing an alternative system.

Having said that, I always found that the driving complaints that I chose to prosecute in traffic court resulted in a conviction. It had little to do with my skill as a prosecutor and everything to do with the citizen who reported the incident and was willing to see it through to a conclusion. That will was reinforced by what was usually significantly bad driving behaviour on the part of the accused.

Some drivers deserve to be held accountable for what they do when traffic law enforcement personnel are not around to discover and deal with them. If you are involved and feel strongly that action needs to be taken, make the report and follow up. If you don’t try, you won’t be successful.

Liberal politician wants new offence of careless driving causing death or bodily harm

A Liberal politician whose husband was killed while riding his bicycle wants to change Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act so drivers who injure or kill someone in an accident will face the real possibility of going to jail.

Police say they will charge a motorist with careless driving instead of the more serious Criminal Code offence of dangerous driving when there was no intent to cause harm, which means a maximum jail sentence of six months even if someone dies.

But Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon said a jail sentence is virtually never imposed on careless drivers because the Highway Traffic Act considers the actions of motorists, but doesn’t concern itself with victims.

“A Toronto officer with 29 years on the job, most of them in traffic, said no careless driving charge he was involved with had ever resulted in a jail sentence, despite the fact people have died,” said McMahon.

McMahon’s husband, OPP Sgt. Greg Stobbart, was killed while riding his bike in 2006 by a driver with five previous convictions for driving while suspended, two convictions for driving without insurance and $14,000 in traffic related fines.

“His sentence: his licence was suspended again and he received 100 hours of community service,” she said. “And just 62 days after this man hit Greg, he hit someone else.”

McMahon’s private member’s bill would add a new offence of careless driving causing death or bodily harm, which would carry a maximum jail sentence of two years.

It would give police a necessary option to fill what they find to be a frustrating gap in the law that doesn’t allow officers to lay a charge that recognizes the seriousness of the offence when someone is hurt or killed in an accident, added McMahon.

“Greg’s frustration with the lack of specificity inherent in Sec. 130 (of the Highway Traffic Act), his frustration at his own inability to lay a charge which fit the offence, is something I heard about all too often,” she said.

“To see it play out in a case that took his life was shattering.”

Transportation Minister Steven DelDuca said he’s always looking for ways to make highways safer, but wouldn’t commit to passing McMahon’s bill.

“We’re going to take a look at the specific legislation she’s brought forward and figure out if this is the best way to move forward,” he said. “All of our road safety partners have expressed concern to me about this.”

Toronto Police Const. Hugh Smith said it took higher fines and demerit points to change people’s behaviour about texting and driving, and he expects increased fines, demerit points and the real possibility of jail could do the same for careless driving.

“This bill provides clarity,” he said. “The deterrent will help.”

Bruce Chapman of the Police Association of Ontario also welcomed McMahon’s initiative to create the offence of careless driving causing death or bodily harm.

“Hopefully this will add as a deterrent to drivers,” said Champman. “By introducing this bill it gives some teeth to the police.”

Private member’s bills rarely become law in Ontario, but McMahon said she wanted this one to stand in her name instead of becoming a government bill.

“I asked them to carry this through as a private member’s bill because the issue is so personally important to me,” she said. “I’m confident with the support that I have that this will become law, in short order hopefully.”


General Motors to Announce up to 1000 New Jobs in Oshawa

Published reports say General Motors Canada is expected to announce up to 1,000 new jobs this week.

The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, citing unidentified sources, say the jobs are expected to be announced Friday, June 10, 2016 at GM Canada’s engineering centre in Oshawa, Ont.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne are expected to be on hand when the announcement is made at GM’s Canadian headquarters.

The reports say the new positions will eventually be spread out at a number of General Motors research and development facilities.

A spokeswoman for GM Canada declined to confirm the reports but said the company was looking forward to an announcement it has scheduled for Friday, June 10, 2016 at its engineering centre.

General Motors said in 2012 that it would spend $750 million on research and development by 2017 under a commitment to the federal and Ontario governments, which provided some of the money for a 2009 bailout of its U.S-based parent.


Environmentalists, car makers applaud Ontario’s $8.3 billion climate change plan

Ontario’s climate change action plan, which will provide billions of dollars in subsidies and incentives to businesses and homeowners, was greeted with cautious optimism June 8, 2016 by environmentalists and businesses.

The province will spend up to $8.3 billion on a range of programs to encourage people and companies to switch to more energy-efficient heating systems, buy electric or hybrid cars, convert big trucks to natural gas, add more bio-fuel to gasoline, and help the agriculture and industrial sectors adopt low-carbon technologies.

Most of the money will come from a cap-and-trade program for industrial polluters that the Liberal government expects will raise $1.9 billion a year. All of the cap-and-trade money will go into a dedicated fund for lowering Ontario’s carbon footprint.

Two groups representing automakers said continued rebates of up to $14,000 for electric vehicles, free overnight charging for four years, and a “cash-for-clunkers” program to get older cars off the roads will help create consumer demand for EVs.

“The rebates, combined with looking at renewable fuels, is sort of a broad-based approach to reducing emissions overall from the transportation sector,” said David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada.

“Many of the initiatives announced today will help consumers understand that electric vehicles are part of the future, of their future,” said Mark Nantis of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association.

However, the manufacturers want more details on the cap-and-trade plan, which takes effect in January when Ontario joins a carbon market with Quebec and California.

“In our industry, many of the investment decisions are upon us now, so there’s many details that we have to work out in collaboration with the government,” added Nantis.

The Ontario Home Builders’ Association said getting to “net zero” carbon homes by 2030 will require extensive consultations with the industry, and called for a cost-benefit analysis for consumers.

“We need to make sure that the upgrades to the 2030 Building Code are worth it to the consumer,” said the association’s president, Joe Vaccaro.

Greenpeace said Ontario is on the right track by trying to phase out fossil fuels and by recognizing that climate change is an opportunity as well as a threat.

“Lots of bad things will happen if we don’t break our addiction to fossil fuels, but there are also a lot of good things _ green jobs, cleaner air _ that come with action on climate change,” said Greenpeace Canada spokesman Keith Stewart.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development, a non-profit research group, strongly supports the plan to put cap-and-trade revenues back into actions that will help lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“We hope that these provincial strategies will bolster our federal leaders’ efforts to develop a national action plan on climate change, including an ambitious cross-country price on carbon emissions,” said Institute spokesman Amin Asadollahi.

The Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank, said the government is “grappling with the tough choices” required to meet its emission reduction targets.

“By providing both the ambition, and the required support to businesses and consumers, this is a good step towards our climate goals,” said Pembina’s Eli Angen.

Details on rebates for home retrofits will come later, but Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said no one will have to get rid of their natural gas furnace or old car until they’re ready.

“We’re not forcing anyone to do this,” he said.  “We want people to avoid the carbon price in the future, and the way you do that, is to use very low or non-carbon emitting fuels and technologies in your homes and transportation systems.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province will invest in projects that will “give families and businesses the ability to lower their carbon footprint, and their energy bills.”

The Progressive Conservatives called the plan “a laundry list of Liberal promises” based on money the government doesn’t even have yet.

“I was very concerned today at the manner in which they continually dodged what this is really going to cost Ontarians,” said PC environment critic Lisa Thompson.

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner said Ontario needed bold action on climate change 10 years ago, but he’s concerned the Liberals’ plan favours businesses, especially big polluters who will get exemptions early on in the cap and trade plan.

“One hundred of Ontario’s largest polluters are getting a free pass on the cap-and-trade plan, and it looks like most of the financial benefits are going to business and not individuals,” said Schreiner. “So is this fair to the people of Ontario?”


Autonomous Vehicle Sales Set to Reach 21 Million Globally by 2035, IHS Says

Source: IHS News Release

The latest forecast from IHS Automotive calls for sales of nearly 21 million autonomous vehicles by 2035. This is a substantial increase from previous estimates, and is influenced by recent research and development by automotive OEMs, supplier and technology companies who are investing in this area. The new forecast is also based on a wave of recent developments and investments in this sector of the market, as well as activity within various regulatory environments.

The United States will lead the world in initial deployment and early adoption of autonomous vehicles, while Japan will simultaneously ramp up industry coordination and investment ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

“Global sales of autonomous vehicles will reach nearly 600,000 units in 2025,” said Egil Juliussen, Ph.D. and director of research at IHS Automotive. “Our new forecast reflects a 43 percent compound annual growth rate between 2025 and 2035 – a decade of substantial growth, as driverless and self-driving cars alike are more widely adopted in all key global automotive markets,” he said.

The latest analysis from business information provider IHS Automotive, part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS) takes into account key factors influencing this growth. New mobility solutions such as ride sharing and car sharing programs, increasing investment in autonomy by OEMs, suppliers and technology companies alike, research and development centers underway and improved efficiencies are expected to impact the further proliferation of automotive technologies. The IHS analysis also considers unique insight into various mobility trends forming around the world.

IHS forecasts incorporate a multitude of factors, including current market development of foundational technologies and considerable R&D announcements and collaboration projects under way. These include discussions and initiatives among OEMs and their suppliers, between OEMs and ridesharing companies, technology company initiatives and increased investment in autonomy and mobility by other entities as well.

”Future mobility will connect and combine many different modes and technologies, and autonomous vehicles will play a central role,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal analyst at IHS Automotive. “IHS expects entirely new vehicle segments to be created, in addition to traditional vehicles adding autonomous capabilities. Consumers gain new choices in personal mobility to complement mass transit, and these new choices will increasingly use battery electric and other efficient means of propulsion.”

United States first to deploy autonomy

The U.S. market is expected to see the earliest deployment of autonomous vehicles as it works through challenges posed by regulation, liability and consumer acceptance. Deployment in the U.S. will begin with several thousand autonomous vehicles in 2020, which will grow to nearly 4.5 million vehicles by 2035, according to IHS Automotive forecasts. As in many other markets, a variety of use cases and business models are expected to develop around consumer demand for personal mobility.

Calls Grow for Government Support for Natural Gas Fueled Vehicles

Proponents of natural gas-fueled vehicles say they can help reduce carbon emissions now but government support is needed to get businesses on board.

The alternative fuel has been around for decades but new technology developments and greater awareness of the need to bring down emissions has led to heightened interest, said Bruce Winchester, executive director of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance.

“We see some opportunities and some real potential, particularly as governments start to look at transportation as a source of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Like most alternative fuels, natural gas still only makes up a small fraction of the fuel powering the total number of vehicles on the road. But Winchester said he sees potential for growth in medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles, where energy demands are higher.

Natural gas has about 15 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel. That can translate into a far bigger impact if trucking fleets are converted to use natural gas.

“You’re going to get bigger emissions savings when you look at an application that requires a lot of kilometres and therefore a lot of fuel burned,” he said.

He pointed to C.A.T. Transportation in Quebec that as of February had switched 20 trucks to compressed natural gas for long-haul transportation down to Texas. The company said that as a result, in the first six weeks of the year it saved 18 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

But Winchester said carbon prices are too low or non-existent to make it enough of a financial incentive to switch, especially with diesel prices at their lowest in years, which is why the industry is hoping for government help.

Ritch Murray, manager of Enbridge Inc.’s natural gas transportation division, says the $200 million for lower-emission vehicles and refueling stations mentioned in a leaked version of Ontario’s draft climate plan would go a long way.

“That’s going to be some welcome investment,” said Murray. “These are businesses and they’re looking at the bottom line. And if there’s not an incentive to fuel switch, they’re going to think twice about it.”

British Columbia and Quebec already have some forms of natural gas vehicle incentives. A spokesman for Alberta’s environment minister said the government could consider alternative fuelling options through the energy efficiency program once it’s established.

The federal government also promised $62.5 million for alternative fuels in its latest budget, but almost all of that is going towards electric vehicle infrastructure.

Murray, who manages the largest commercial natural gas vehicle fleet in Canada at Enbridge, says that for heavier-duty vehicles there aren’t really electric options, but natural gas is ready to go.

“It’s readily deployable, commercialized technology that has an immediate impact on GHGs and we can get it out right now in the heavy duty space, where there aren’t any electric options,” said Murray.

But with so many competing vehicle fuel alternatives, automotive analyst Dennis DesRosiers says governments should stay out of picking winners and losers.

“It’s not the government’s job to decide whether it’s going to be natural gas or diesel in the future,” he said. “Just set a standard and let industry figure it out.”

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