If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

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Ford F 150 gets highest rating in new insurance crash tests

By Dee-Ann Durbin

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT _ The 2016 Ford F-150 is the only full-size pickup truck to score the top rating in new front crash tests performed by the insurance industry.

Rival pickups from Chevrolet, GMC, Ram and Toyota didn’t fare as well, according to results released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute evaluated 2016 models in a small overlap crash test, which replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and a portion of its front end hits a tree or a pole at 40 miles per hour.

The tests evaluated both crew cab and extended cab versions of each truck, since those are the most popular body styles. A crew cab has four full doors and two full rows of seating. An extended cab has two full front doors, two small rear doors and smaller second-row seats.

The institute also evaluated different body styles because past tests have shown varying results. In tests last year, the 2015 F-150 SuperCab the extended cab version of the F-150 lacked some of the structural elements of the larger F-150 SuperCrew so it got lower safety ratings.

Ford responded by adding reinforcements to the 2016 SuperCab, including high-strength steel tubes in the wheel wells and aluminum rocker panels on the sides that help absorb energy from a crash. Ford also added nylon reinforcements to the door hinges. With those enhancements, both versions of the F-150 now have the institute’s highest safety rating of “good.”

The results were a vindication for Ford Motor Co., which switched to a lightweight aluminum body on the F-150 in the 2015 model year in order to increase fuel economy. Ford was the first automaker to move away from a steel body on its pickups, and some had questioned whether aluminum would perform as well.

Crash test results varied for other brands. The extended cab versions of the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Toyota Tundra, for example, all performed better than the larger crew cab versions. But the institute said all of them failed to protect the crash test dummy’s lower leg and foot. None got the highest safety rating.

Toyota Motor Corp. is evaluating the results, spokeswoman Cindy Knight said. She stressed that the Tundra meets or exceeds all federal safety requirements. The institute performs a different set of tests than federal regulators.

Both versions of the Ram pickup were the worst performers on the small overlap test. The institute said the trucks had a poor structure and the force of the crash pushed the instrument panel and steering wheel back toward the dummy. A message seeking comment was left with Fiat Chrysler.

The institute also tested roof strength to see how well the pickups would protect an occupant in a rollover crash. Roof strength is especially critical for pickup trucks, since studies have shown that pickup drivers are less likely to wear seat belts. A crushed roof can break window glass and doors and make it more likely that an unbelted occupant will be thrown from the vehicle.

The F-150, both Silverados, both Sierras and the Tundra Double Cab the extended version of the Tundra all got the highest ratings for roof strength. The Tundra CrewMax crew cab and both Rams got lower ratings.

The institute said it plans to test two more full-size pickup trucks, the Nissan Titan and the Honda Ridgeline, later this year after both are redesigned.

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Limit short term rentals, screen all drivers says new sharing economy report

TORONTO _ A new report on the sharing economy suggests governments should screen drivers on platforms such as Uber and limit what kinds of homes can be rented on sites like Airbnb.

In creating the report, research group MaRS Solutions Lab interviewed more than 136 people including taxi drivers, uberX drivers, hotel managers and Airbnb hosts.

Officials from the Ontario and Toronto governments also contributed to the report.

The report makes a series of recommendations for how to effectively regulate the sharing economy.

One of the recommendations says residents should only be allowed to rent out their primary residences _ and not secondary or commercial residences on home-sharing websites like Airbnb for a maximum of 180 days a year.

The report also suggests that every driver should be screened and every vehicle inspected and insured, even if those drivers are operating on platforms like the ride-hailing app, Uber.

Driver training should also be revamped, to compensate for differences in the kinds of training that taxi drivers and Uber drivers receive.

“When it comes to introducing regulation for the sharing economy, governments should not only look at regulating new entrants, but should also revisit current regulations to reduce burden for existing operators,” Joeri van den Steenhoven, the director of MaRS Solutions Lab, said in a statement.

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Pothole menace angers motorists, creates business for repair shops

By Ross Marowits

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL _ An annoying sign of spring the dreaded pothole is testing the patience of Canadian drivers this year while also creating a financial bonanza for auto repair shops.

Extreme fluctuations in early spring temperatures along with lots of rain have unearthed a high number of potholes that are exposing motorists to hefty repair bills.

“It’s probably the worst year I’ve seen in the last 10 to 15 years,” Ben Lalonde, president of My AutoPro service centres in Ottawa, said in a recent interview.

Business is up as customers are showing up with bent wheels, punctured tires, misalignments and wrecked suspensions. Repair bills can range between $200 and $500 depending on the force of impact and the type of damage, Lalonde said.

Spring is a lucrative period for repair shops, says Jack Bayramian, owner of Montreal’s Decarie Garage, who adds that repairs stemming from pothole damage makes up about 30 per cent of his year’s revenues.

There’s no tally for the cost of dealing with the aftermath of potholes in Canada, but a poll of U.S. motorists by the American Automobile Association suggests they spend an average of US$3 billion a year dealing with pothole repairs. The Canadian Automobile Association is in the process of conducting its own poll.

While repair shops welcome the extra business, they also say it can cause customers to pare back spending on preventative maintenance.

“I know having bad roads is good for business but I think it’s (temporary) … because a lot of people end up neglecting their cars, and at the end it could be a safety concern,” James Bastien, manager of an OK Tire in the nation’s capital.

Most motorists tend to pay for repairs out-of-pocket unless damage is well above insurance claim deductibles, or they can beat the odds and win a claim from a municipality.

Several large Canadian municipalities are struggling this year to keep up with the menace that is consistently among the top sources of angry complaints from residents.

“This year has been fairly bad,” says Bryden Denyes, area manager of core roads for the City of Ottawa.

The city has filled 51,000 potholes so far this year, up substantially from 20,200 at the same time in 2015, but down slightly from two years ago. Compared to last year’s almost relentless bone-chilling cold, Ottawa has faced 28 freeze-and-thaw cycles versus just 11 a year ago.

The capital spends $5.4 million a year filling potholes and repairing roads, compared to the nearly $7 million to fix major and arterial roads in Montreal. Toronto spent $6 million in 2014 to fix 360,000 potholes.

Lionel Perez, a councillor responsible for Montreal’s infrastructure, said it’s a constant struggle to plug the holes, especially because of decades of under-investment.

The challenge is even bigger in Edmonton, which over the last nine years has faced an average of 455,000 new potholes a year. A warmer winter and less snow has given the Alberta capital somewhat of a reprieve this year.

In addition to filling potholes, municipalities have to contend with damage claims submitted by residents.

Very strict rules limit compensation in Quebec. Payouts are also low in other provinces.

Ottawa paid out only 10 per cent of claims last year, while Edmonton’s annual payout ratio is about 16 per cent. Toronto, meantime, paid out about half the 2,376 claims filed in 2014, the city said in its latest report.

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