Mall parking lot crashes peak in December; ICBC provides Drive Smart tips for holiday shopping season

Source: ICBC:

As the holiday shopping season officially kicks off this week for Black Friday, ICBC is asking drivers to prioritize safety over finding the perfect parking spot. About 150,000 crashes happened in parking lots last year resulting in 5,400 injuries*.

While most parking lot crashes happen at low speeds and only result in vehicle damage, dealing with the aftermath of a crash is the quickest way to turn anyone into a Grinch. ICBC receives hundreds of thousands of vehicle damage claims every year, with costs exceeding $1.5 billion.

Based on a sample of mall parking lots in B.C.***:

  • An average of 200 crashes occurred at mall parking lots in 2017.
  • Most crashes occur in December.
  • Most crashes occur between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Most crashes occur on a Friday or Saturday.

Although some mistakenly believe that driving in parking lots is ‘safer’ due to lower travel speeds, drivers need to continue practicing their safe driving habits, even while travelling in parking lots. Parking lots present drivers with unique challenges such as increased congestion and heavy pedestrian activity. The holiday season could add a layer of distraction with people more apt to be preoccupied with their shopping list or finding a parking spot.

Drivers are encouraged to apply a bit of holiday cheer, be courteous and have a bit more patience during this time of year with these Drive Smart tips from ICBC:

The rules of the road still apply, even on private property: Drivers should know that the law still applies, even in mall parking lots. Avoid cutting diagonally through a lot – travel only in the appropriate lanes. Don’t use your phone while driving, instead, program your navigation or holiday tunes before you start your car.
Have your car facing out in your parking spot: This position is safest for drivers because it helps you avoid the risk of reversing into a lane with potential blind spots when leaving.
Park further away, if you can: Instead of circling endlessly to get a spot that’s closest to the mall entrance, pick a spot that’s further away. You’ll avoid a high-traffic area where you’re more likely to crash with another vehicle or hit a pedestrian.
Slow down and be on alert: Drivers should drive slowly in parking lots to have enough time to react to an unexpected vehicle backing out of their parking spot or an unanticipated pedestrian, especially young children, who may be harder to see.
Pay attention to the arrows and stop signs: Many parking lots are quite narrow, restricting certain lanes to a single direction. Pay attention to the signs and markings on the road to avoid getting into a crash.
Don’t block traffic: Deciding to follow a shopper, then waiting for them to load their car, buckle up and leave, jams up traffic behind you and likely takes you much longer than if you had just found a spot further away. Sitting idle in a lane can leave you vulnerable to a collision, and you could be blocking other drivers who are trying to leave.

Let it go: No sense in having a showdown with another driver for a parking spot. Move along, and maybe that good karma will net you something really nice this season.

The number of crashes in B.C. peaked in 2017, with 350,000 crashes happening in the year, or 960 a day. The total cost of claims in 2017 was $4.8 billion, or $13 million a day.

IBC Issues Position Paper on Automated Vehicles

Source: IBC

During its annual Regulatory Affairs Symposium this month (November 2018), Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a position paper, Auto Insurance for Automated Vehicles: Preparing for the Future of Mobility.

The recommendations in the paper were developed over the past two years by auto insurance experts, who in turn, received input from a panel of legal advisors. IBC would like to thank the insurer representatives who worked on developing the recommendations in this paper, as well as the panel of legal experts who advised them.

The paper contains three recommendations that update both provincial insurance laws and federal vehicle safety standards:

  1. Establish a single insurance policy that covers driver negligence and automated technology malfunctions to facilitate liability claims;
  2. Establish a legislated data-sharing arrangement between vehicle manufacturers and vehicle owners and/or insurers to help determine the cause of a collision; and
  3. Update the federal vehicle safety standards to address new technology and cyber security standards.

“Automated vehicles are coming to Canada’s roads, and the laws that govern insurance and vehicle safety need to be updated to reflect this reality,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC. “We need changes to the provincial insurance laws across the country to ensure that collision victims continue to be compensated in a timely manner.”

Each province has a prescribed auto insurance policy and supporting laws that are not yet designed for automated vehicles. Currently, they are built on the notion that human error is the primary cause of collisions. As humans cede control of driving to automated technology, the collisions that do occur will be caused increasingly by product malfunction. The current laws will create uncertainty and confusion for some people injured in collisions that involve automated vehicles, possibly delaying treatment for their injuries and claims payouts.

Several major auto manufacturers expect to have automated vehicles available for purchase in the early 2020s. IBC is asking governments across the country to update relevant laws, to ensure we are ready when automated vehicles hit the roads.

Ride hailing group says B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry

A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced this week will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.

At the same time, one academic studying ride-hailing says the regulations proposed in British Columbia aren’t anything the industry hasn’t seen before.

Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC said Tuesday, November 20, 2018 the organization’s members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.

The coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates, said Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.

“For those who understand ride-sharing, I always see it as an accordion, that the consumer drives how many cars are on the road at any point in time to handle the demand,” he said at a news conference in Vancouver.

“What we heard (Monday, November 20, 2018)) was a system that the transportation board is going to determine how many cars are on the road in any particular area at any particular time, which completely defeats the purpose, we think, of ride-sharing.”

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena introduced the legislation Monday, November 20, 2018 saying it balances consumer demand and public safety.

It proposes to give the Passenger Transportation Board expanded powers to accept applications and set terms and conditions for licences covering taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, she said. The independent tribunal would also have the authority to set rates and determine the number and coverage areas of the services.

A legislative committee to review and make changes to the system would also be appointed, she added.

Timothy Burr Jr., director of public policy for ride-hailing company Lyft, said the company sees the legislation as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.

Some of the regulations proposed, such as a requirement that drivers have a class four commercial licence, would limit the company’s ability to deliver “true” ride-hailing by making it onerous for drivers to sign up and comply, he said.

“Class four ignores the reality of how true ride-sharing would work. At Lyft, over 93 per cent of our drivers drive fewer than 20 hours (per week). These are folks who are looking for part-time economic opportunities and they want to use Lyft as additional income,” he said.

The company is used to working with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province, he said.

But Shauna Brail, associate professor in urban studies at the University of Toronto, said British Columbia isn’t reinventing the wheel by regulating the industry.

Edmonton was the first Canadian city to regulate ride-hailing in 2016 and now 20 of Canada’s 30 largest cities have some form of regulations governing the operation of the services, she said.

“It’s possible that it’s a combination of a number of features from other jurisdictions that don’t all exist (elsewhere) as one set of regulations, but none of these are particularly brand new,” she said.

In August, New York City voted to cap the number of ride-hailing cars on the road after some studies showed congestion increased after the service was introduced, rather than decreased as expected, she said.

Brail agreed that controlling rates is more in line with the taxi industry than typical ride-hailing models. But Toronto charges companies like Uber a set fee per transaction, she said.

After Uber began operating in Edmonton, it temporarily pulled its service while the city developed an insurance plan for drivers and passengers, she said.

While British Columbia has been slow to join the game, Brail said, in some ways it has had the benefit of learning from others’ experience.

“They skipped over ride-hailing 1.0 and they’re at ride-hailing 2.0,” she said.

Cars and trucks sold in B.C. by 2040 will be zero emission: government

All light-duty cars and trucks sold in British Columbia will be required to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Premier John Horgan said Tuesday, November 20, 2108 legislation to be introduced next spring will be aimed at removing a major source of air pollution and climate change.

The government said the proposed law would set targets of 10 per cent of sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.

The premier said the government will increase an incentive program to encourage the purchase of more clean-energy cars by $20 million this year, and it will expand the fast-charger network to 151 sites.

Horgan said the legislation will be the first major policy commitment of the government’s plan to meet the province’s climate goals.

“As a province, we need to work together to put B.C. on a path that powers our future with clean, renewable energy and reduces air pollution,” he said.

Green party Leader Andrew Weaver said 40 per cent of household emissions in B.C. come from transportation and scientists worldwide have been warning for decades about the importance of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in British Columbia, the government has recognized that we have a responsibility to do our part and those who are early adopters are seen as leaders and stand to benefit from the opportunities created by innovation in the new economy.”

Weaver said once people get into an electric vehicle, they never go back.

Clean Energy Canada said in a statement the government’s announcement will make it easier for people to go electric.

The group’s executive director, Merran Smith, said a third of B.C. residents expect their next car to be electric.

“Not only do electric cars help cut pollution and clean up the air we breathe, in B.C. going electric cuts your fuel bill by three-quarters.”

The government said it would be reviewing the incentive program with an eye to expanding it over time, so buying a zero-emission vehicle will become a more affordable option for middle- and low-income residents.

The provincial government has committed more than $71 million to its Clean Energy Vehicle Program since the budget update in September 2017, encouraging residents to purchase green vehicles.

B.C. government says demand, safety behind long awaited riding hailing plan

Ride-hailing companies could begin operations in British Columbia by next fall under legislation introduced November 19, 2018.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the government’s bill strikes a balance between meeting consumer demand and protecting public safety.

Among other things, the bill would give the Passenger Transportation Board the power to accept applications and set terms and conditions for licences covering taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

It would also set rates and determine the number and coverage areas of the services.

The legislation would see the creation of a legislative committee to review and make changes to the system as well.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver says the NDP’s bill is a step forward, but he questions why the government has chosen to require driver training and class four licences rather than class five, which he says have been used successfully in Quebec.

Trevena says the experience of other jurisdictions has been used to develop British Columbia’s legislation, which is aimed at preventing gridlock, maintaining ridership on public transit, and reducing accidents caused by unsafe or inexperienced drivers.

Vancouver is one of the few major cities in Canada that does not permit ride-hailing.

The New Democrats, Liberals and Greens promised to bringing in ride-hailing during the 2017 provincial election campaign.

An all-party committee of the legislature made 32 recommendations last February to help pave the way for ride-hailing.

The report highlighted five key areas that needed to be considered when establishing regulations for the industry including pricing, insurance, licensing, and public safety. The committee also recommended updating legislation that regulates the taxi industry to “allow for equitable and fair competition.”

China’s largest ride-hailing firm has launched a research facility in Toronto, its second in North America.

Didi Chuxing says it officially launched DiDi Labs, which follows the establishment of a lab in Mountain View, Calif. in March 2017.

The California facility has worked on product development and safety technology for DiDi’s international operations in Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Japan and Greater China.

The new DiDi Labs in Toronto will focus on research into intelligent driving and artificial intelligence.

It will be led by Jun Yu, who the company describes as a pioneer of China’s consumer app industry and who has been responsible for creating many of China’s leading internet products.

The company, which acquired Uber China, offers app-based transportation options for 550 million users, including taxi, bus, bike-sharing, car-sharing and foot delivery. More than 31 million driver use its platform.

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