352 impaired driving offences reported during December Traffic Safety Spotlight

Read more

#DriveSmartBC: Roadside Mechanical Inspections

DriveSmartBC

Many people think of traffic policing consists mostly of handing out speeding tickets. This is not the case as there are many other job functions that officers are responsible for. One that I often found to be an interesting challenge was conducting roadside mechanical inspections.

Inspections were frequently triggered by seeing something amiss after stopping a driver for a traffic rule violation, but occasionally police will set up a check stop dedicated to mechanical inspection. Triage will be conducted by a point person on the highway and suspect vehicles will be directed to the roadside for more thorough examinations.

In either case, the authority to conduct these inspections comes from the Motor Vehicle Act:

219 (2) A peace officer

(a) may require a person who carries on the business of renting vehicles or who is the owner or person in charge of a vehicle

(i) to allow the peace officer to inspect a vehicle offered by the person for rental or owned by or in charge of the person, or

(ii) to move a vehicle described in subparagraph (i) to a place designated by the peace officer and to allow the vehicle to be inspected there by the peace officer, or, at the expense of the person required, to present the vehicle for inspection by a person authorized under section 217, and

A systematic check of the vehicle is done and defects, if any, are identified.

The enforcement action taken depends on the severity of the defect. I often chose to be guided by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Out of Service Criteria set for North American commercial vehicles. If it was fair to take a commercial truck off the road, it was fair to apply the same standard to light vehicles as well.

The most severe defects are dealt with by issuing a #1 Notice & Order, seizing vehicle licence plates and registration and calling a tow truck. Examples of common problems that triggered this action include brake system failure, excessive steering linkage wear, frame corrosion or unsafe vehicle modifications.

A #2 Notice & Order was used when significant defects or a general pattern of neglect was uncovered. While concerning, the defects were not significant enough to justify the vehicle’s immediate removal from the highway. The order gives the vehicles’ owner 30 days to correct problems.

Both of these inspection orders require that the vehicle be taken to a Designated Inspection Facility, undergo a complete inspection and be repaired to the point that a pass could be issued.

Designated Inspection Facilities use the Vehicle Inspection Manual as the standard for repair. While exempt from publication, you may be able to read this manual for free at your local public library.

For minor items, a #3 Notice & Order is issued. The driver or vehicle owner is asked to make the listed repair and present the vehicle to show that the repair has been made.

Ignoring these orders could result in significant consequences that include heavy fines and tow trucks.

Reference Link:

#DriveSmartBC

 

‘You killed the car’: Families complain of dead vehicles, thousands in repairs after station sold bad gas

Fuelling up left a woman stranded with her child and a man stuck holding an $18K bill

Rachel Ward · CBC News

Loraine Bon and her husband thought they were helping their son when they fuelled up the old truck he takes camping.

Instead, the gas they pumped in Bearspaw, northwest of Calgary, put an end to the 4Runner. The fuel was contaminated, and the truck hasn’t started since.

Now six months later, Bon hasn’t got the Centex Bearspaw gas station to pay for the repairs, roughly $3,000 worth.

The gas station’s insurance is disputing whether the Centex is at fault for the soiled fuel, which damaged dozens of Alberta vehicles.

“We don’t care who’s at fault. You’re at fault,” Bon said of Centex. “You sold us the gas. You killed the car.”

Whose fault is it?

The insurance companies for the gas station, the tank installer and the tank manufacturer are arguing over who caused saline to leak into the station’s fuel.

An investigation after the incident showed the inner lining of the fuel tank split, allowing the saline barrier to leach into the fuel — something the company told customers about in a letter last summer.

That saline solution caused vehicles to seize up, some almost immediately. Some had mechanical issues. Others had to have their entire engine rebuilt, like James Niblock of Cochrane, Alta., who got a bill for an $18,000 repair.

Niblock was one of the first customers that morning in July, as he headed into Calgary early with his toddler. He suspects he got a higher concentration of the saline solution than others who gassed up later in the day.

Out of pocket

Niblock’s insurance covered the large bill, but he’s still owed for other expenses — the tow truck, car rental and insurance deductible — which total roughly $1,000. He doubts he’ll see that money again.

“So between the three of them at the moment, they haven’t figured out who is liable,” Niblock said. “While this kind of drags on and no one’s really communicating with us, obviously a lot of people have got either unusable engines or have basically had to pay out of their own pocket for repairs.”

He found out this week that his van needs more work, but from what he’s heard, his case sounds like a good one.

Niblock provided an email to CBC News from the independent adjuster handling the files for Federated Insurance, which insures Centex Petroleum. In it, the adjuster said the insurer was “not issuing any payment” until fault was determined.

“We will let you know when that occurs,” the adjuster said in a Dec. 5 email.

After the leak, Centex closed down and called the tank manufacturer, ZCL Composites, to investigate. The manufacturer repaired the split seam in the fibreglass tank and certified the tank as ready to receive fuel. The gas station reopened and sent a letter to drivers.

“Centex has assured all customers that were affected by this event that we will reimburse them for their costs,” said the letter from managing partner Shafiq Bhura, which Niblock gave to CBC.

Reimbursed ‘almost everyone’

In a brief phone conversation with CBC, Bhura said the insurance company had asked him not to comment “for legal reasons.”

“We’ve reimbursed almost everyone, and those that were complicated or were not straightforward, our insurance company is looking after them,” he said. “So we haven’t had anyone come directly to us with anything unclaimed for the past at least a month.”

He said he understood Centex Petroleum’s insurance company, Federated Insurance, was trying to get everything paid out. Bhura declined to comment further.

Requests for comment to Federated Insurance and ZCL Composites went unanswered. A lawyer handling the file for the insurance firm said he did not have permission to talk. The adjuster declined to comment.

Drivers are asking Centex Petroleum for an easier route to get compensation to replace or repair vehicles damaged by contaminated fuel. (Grant Hindsley/Associated Press)

All of this has been stressful for Jamie Lowe, who has two kids. Shortly after she fuelled up at Centex Bearspaw, her 2015 Dodge Ram broke down late at night while she had her five-year-old in the back seat.

“It was a pretty terrible situation. There was no apology, no accountability. They said that you need to talk to our insurance adjuster,” Lowe said.

Her vehicle was fixed and Centex paid for the repairs.

Seeking apology, easier compensation route

Lately, Lowe’s vehicle has started randomly shaking and rumbling. She said she’s worried the cost for further repairs will be delayed until the at-fault party is determined.

“Well, that could take years, and so many people were out thousands of dollars, which really isn’t affordable. To me, they didn’t go about it the right way,” she said. “I’ll never fill up at a Centex gas station again because of how the situation was handled.”

Auto insurance review long overdue

Toronto Sun

Premier Doug Ford’s government announced last week it’s going to review Ontario’s auto insurance system in order to lower rates for drivers.

A review – the government is seeking public input until Feb. 15 – is certainly needed, since Ontario drivers pay the highest insurance premiums in Canada despite being among the country’s safest drivers.

A 2017 study by insurance expert David Marshall for the previous Liberal government found Ontario drivers pay 55% more than the Canadian average for car insurance.

It found the average insurance premium of $1,458 per vehicle in 2015 was 24% higher than in Alberta, double the rate in Quebec.

Marshall’s review, “Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario” described the province as having one of Canada’s least effective auto insurance systems.

The previous Liberal government failed to address these issues during its 15 years in power, with former premier Kathleen Wynne famously dismissing her broken 2013 promise to lower premiums by 15% as a “stretch goal.”

Ontario’s auto insurance industry blames fraud for high insurance rates, but that’s only part of the problem.

Marshall found $1.4 billion annually – a third of all insurance premium benefits – goes to duelling lawyers and medical experts in court, instead of to treatment for crash victims.

That’s more than the estimated cost of insurance fraud of $1.3 billion annually.

Because of Ontario’s “no fault” insurance system, accident victims often have to sue their own insurance companies for benefits, even when the other driver is at fault or has no insurance.

Consumer groups like FAIR (Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform) say this means accident victims have to hire their own lawyers and medical experts to counter their own insurance companies’ lawyers and medical experts, eating up billions of dollars that should be spent on treating and rehabilitating accident victims.

Auto insurers complain that plaintiffs’ lawyers drive up costs by charging outrageously high contingency fees, which redirect money intended for the treatment of victims into the pockets of their lawyers.

What it all amounts to is a broken auto insurance system that no Ontario government, regardless of political stripe, has ever seriously addressed.

Typically, what they’ve done is to allow insurance companies to reduce the standardized benefit packages they offer to their customers, meaning while people can pay less for a standard policy, it’s because that policy contains fewer benefits.

The Progressive Conservatives who, when they were in opposition, accused the Liberals of failing to fix the insurance system, now say that in government they want to lower insurance rates for drivers and increase competition in the insurance industry.

Let’s hope so, because the current system is unfair to both drivers, who are paying the highest insurance premiums in the country despite being among Canada’s safest drivers, and crash victims, who are not getting the treatment they need and deserve.

Semi-driving instructor says he’s been suspended for criticizing Sask. government

CBC News ·

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) has suspended the semi driving instructor who’s been one of the Crown corporation’s harshest critics since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Reg Lewis’ one-month suspension took effect Christmas Eve.

According to SGI documents, Lewis breached the Crown corporation’s code of conduct with his use of profanity and “instructional style.”

Lewis said the suspension forced him to cancel the training courses for more than a dozen students in a province already dealing with a massive driver shortage. Lewis estimates it will cost his small business more than $40,000 as his two trucks and fellow instructor sit idle.

The veteran Swift Current instructor notes there were no safety or competence issues. He says he’s being singled out and SGI is simply trying to silence its critics.

“I think SGI is trying to tell me that I should keep my mouth shut — that I shouldn’t be speaking up, that we’re in charge and you’d better damn well better do it our way or you’re going to lose your driving school,” Lewis said in an interview this week.

SGI said Lewis is mistaken.

“To claim that a suspension was motivated by anything else would be unequivocally false,” an SGI official said in an email Thursday.

Advocates have pressed to make semi driver training mandatory. It is required in Ontario, and will be this spring in Saskatchewan and Alberta. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Lewis said he was deeply affected by the April 6 crash between the Humboldt Broncos and a semi which left 16 people dead and 13 injured.

Lewis has dedicated his life to teaching truck safety since his own parents were killed in a collision with a semi more than 20 years ago. Following the crash, Lewis spoke publicly about the need for mandatory semi driver training.

At the time, Ontario was the only province that required semi drivers to take any training courses. In most provinces, passing a road and written exam allows drivers to take any sized truck in any conditions onto any road in Canada.

Shortly after the Broncos crash, Lewis blasted SGI and the Saskatchewan government for the lack of training. Fellow instructors, drivers, academics and Broncos’ family members agreed.

Saskatchewan and Alberta have since announced training will become mandatory this spring. Other provinces and the federal government are also considering it.

The driver of the semi in the Broncos crash pleaded guilty this week to 29 counts of dangerous driving. His sentencing hearing takes place later this month.

Swift Current driving instructor Reg Lewis takes a student in a semi during a recent training session. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Lewis supplied his suspension letter and roughly 30 other pages of SGI correspondence at the request of CBC News.

Some of the incidents cited by SGI date back to 2014. In one, Lewis yelled and “berated” a student who drove the semi over a curb as he rounded a corner.

When questioned at that time, Lewis supplied SGI with video evidence. SGI said the video “demonstrated multiple missed opportunities for instruction and the use of profanity.”

Another SGI document stated a student experienced the worst anxiety of his life this November after Lewis yelled at him to “Put the <expletive> clutch to the floor and put the <expletive> truck in gear.”

Some students said Lewis was overly negative. A dispute also arose when one student wanted to stop halfway through and asked for a refund to their prepaid, non-refundable fees.

In an email Thursday to CBC News, SGI officials said the Crown only issues suspensions after taking all other steps to address “serious and repeated concerns.” They noted Lewis had previously been put on probation, some of which predates his public criticism of SGI.

SGI said instructors can appeal suspensions to the Highway Traffic Board. Lewis did appeal unsuccessfully this month. Lewis said the broad definitions in the SGI code of conduct make a reversal nearly impossible.

Calls for mandatory semi driver training grew after 16 people were killed and 13 injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash with a semi. (Karen Pauls/CBC News )

Lewis said these and other allegations are a “joke.” He admitted to using the “f-word” for emphasis, but said it’s common language in trucking and many other industries.

“We’re all adults here. Sometimes, it happens,” he said.

As for yelling, Lewis said it’s necessary when someone drives on a sidewalk or requires immediate correction.

He said many students believe their payment entitles them to their licence and complain when he demands a higher skill level.

Lewis said there have never been issues with the quality of the training or his safety record. Other SGI officials praise his competence.

“I am pleased to report there were no substantive issues identified,” an SGI official wrote following a 2016 ride-along evaluation.

In June, another SGI evaluator asked Lewis to adjust his instructional style but told him, “Your dedication and passion for traffic safety is evident.”

Lewis will be back in business Jan. 24, but said the suspension could scare others who want to speak out on road safety issues.

“A long time ago I decided I don’t care who I upset,” he said. “Either you’re here to learn how to drive a truck or you’re not.”

‘I don’t want a trial:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash pleads guilty

By Ryan McKenna

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MELFORT, Sask. _ The driver of a transport truck involved in a deadly crash with the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus pleaded guilty Tuesday to all charges against him.

“I plead guilty, your honour,” Jaskirat Singh Sidhu said as he stood before a judge in a court in Melfort, Sask.

Sixteen people lost their lives and 13 players were injured when Sidhu’s semi-unit loaded with peat moss and the Broncos bus collided in rural Saskatchewan last April.

Sidhu was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

“His position to me was, ‘I just want to plead guilty. I don’t want you to plea bargain. I don’t want a trial,”’ Sidhu’s lawyer, Mark Brayford, said outside court, his client beside him with his head down.

“Mr. Sidhu advised me: ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly don’t want to make them worse by having a trial.”’

Brayford, who recently took on the case, said more evidence still needs to be handed over to the defence, but Sidhu wanted to avoid further delays.

“He wanted the families to know that he’s devastated by the grief that he’s caused them,” Brayford said. “And he’s overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him in spite of the fact their grief is entirely his fault.”

Scott Thomas, whose 18-year-old son Evan died in the crash, sat near Sidhu in court and said the guilty plea meant a lot to him.

“All I’ve ever told my kids is speaking about accountability and responsibility and to hear him use his own words to plead guilty, it’s powerful,” Thomas said, fighting his emotions outside court.  “Now we can more forward with the next part of this.”

Crown lawyer Thomas Healey said he might need up to five days for a sentencing hearing, which is to begin Jan. 28, and would not be commenting until after that. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years. It’s 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Michelle Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed in the crash, said she is worried the guilty plea will mean a lighter sentence.

“I’m glad he won’t be putting everyone through a lengthy, exhaustive and heartbreaking trial,” she told The Canadian Press. “However, I also hope that by doing so, he doesn’t get an absurdly reduced sentence as per our justice system.”

Thomas said he’s not worried about the time Sidhu could serve.

“When he said, ‘Guilty,’ to me, I have my closure,” he said.

“If he spends a day, if he spends 10 years, time is irrelevant. He was guilty. He acknowledged that. That’s all I needed to hear.

“The rest of the sentence doesn’t matter to me. It really doesn’t. It is not going to bring Evan back. I’ve got to spend the rest of my life with it. He’s got to spend the rest of his life with it.”

The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League when their bus and Sidhu’s rig collided at an intersection not far from Tisdale, Sask.

The bus was travelling north on Highway 35 and the semi was westbound on Highway 335, which has a stop sign.

A safety review of the rural crossroads done by a consulting firm for the Saskatchewan government was released last month. It said sight lines are a safety concern at the spot.

A stand of trees, mostly on private property, obstructs the view of drivers approaching from the south and east the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided, the review said.

It recommended negotiating with the landowner to remove the trees, and also suggested rumble strips, larger signs and painting  “Stop” and  “Stop Ahead” on the road.

The report’s authors determined that six collisions had taken place at the intersection between 1990 and 2017 and another 14 happened on roads nearby.

One of those collisions was deadly. In 1997, six people were killed when a pickup truck heading east failed to stop on Highway 335 and was hit by a southbound tractor-trailer.

In December, the Saskatchewan government further introduced mandatory training for semi-truck drivers. Starting in March, drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence are to undergo at least 121.5 hours of training.

Previously, Saskatchewan Government Insurance accredited driving schools but training was not mandatory.

The owner of the Calgary trucking company that hired Singh was also charged after the crash.

Sukhmander Singh of Adesh Deol Trucking faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest