ICBC: a crash occurs every three minutes over the holidays

ICBC: a crash occurs every three minutes over the holidays

The holidays are here and many drivers will be traveling to visit family and friends to celebrate. With increased traffic and unpredictable road conditions, it’s important for everyone to be prepared and drive smart.

Over the Christmas holidays and New Year’s, 530 people are injured and two people are killed in 2,000 crashes every year in B.C.* That’s one crash every three minutes.

Here are ICBC’s tips to get home safe this holiday season:

  • Check your vehicle. Many B.C. highways require winter tires, labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M+S) designation. Top up wiper fluid for clearer visibility and pack an emergency kit including blanket, food and water.

  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions only. It takes more time and distance to come to a complete stop on wet, icy or snowy roads. Adjust your speed to the conditions and always maintain a safe travelling distance between vehicles.

  • Avoid distraction. Make important calls and program your GPS before you begin driving and let your family and friends know you’re not available while driving. If you’re on a longer drive, use highway rest stops to take a break and check your messages.

  • Take a break. Pull over as soon as you start to feel drowsy. Get out and walk around to get some fresh air. If that’s not enough, pull over to a safe area, turn off your car and take a nap.

  • Plan for a safe ride home. If your holiday festivities involve alcohol, plan ahead for a safe ride home: arrange a designated driver, call a taxi, take transit or use Operation Red Nose where available. There’s no excuse to drink and drive.

Christmas holiday statistics:*

  • During the Christmas holidays, on average, one person is killed and 350 people are injured in 1,300 crashes in B.C. every year.

  • During the Christmas holidays, on average, 260 people are injured in 810 crashes in the Lower Mainland every year.

  • During the Christmas holidays, on average, 69 people are injured in 340 crashes on Vancouver Island every year.

  • During the Christmas holidays, on average, 45 people are injured in 180 crashes in the Southern Interior every year.

  • During the Christmas holidays, on average, 15 people are injured in 87 crashes in the North Central region every year.

New Year’s statistics:*

  • Every year during New Year’s, on average, one person is killed and 180 people are injured in 700 crashes in B.C.

  • Every year during New Year’s, on average, 130 people are injured in 470 crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year during New Year’s, on average, 17 people are injured in 78 crashes on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year during New Year’s, on average, 15 people are injured in 95 crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year during New Year’s, on average, nine people are injured in 48 crashes in the North Central region.

*Christmas is defined as 18:00 hours December 24 to midnight December 26. New Year’s is defined as 18:00 hours December 31st of the previous year to midnight January 1 of the New Year. ICBC data for injury and crashes based on five year average (2014 to 2018); police data for fatalities based on five year average (2013 to 2017).

Alberta strikes panel to review auto insurance, won’t bring back rate cap

By Dean Bennett | Canadian Press

Alberta is reviewing auto insurance in the province to ensure that the industry can remain viable and drivers can get affordable coverage.

Finance Minister Travis Toews says Albertans are paying some of the highest rates in Canada but are having trouble getting critical protection such as comprehensive and collision coverage.

But a five per cent annual cap on rate increases, introduced by the former NDP government and abandoned by his United Conservatives, is not coming back, he says.

“In the intermediate and long term it was no solution, and even in the short term it made a bad situation worse.”

Auto insurance rates in Alberta have been rising sharply in the last five years. It trend prompted the NDP government to cap global rate increases at five per cent annually for each insurer starting in 2017.

The new UCP government did not renew the cap in August, and some drivers have since reported getting notices of steep rises in rates of 12 per cent or more.

Insurers have said that under the cap they were losing money in Alberta, given more payouts for car theft, injury claims, repairs and catastrophes such as the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.

Toews said the cap forced insurers to seek savings at the expense of drivers by, in some cases, refusing to offer critical protections.

In other cases, individual clients were still hit with steep increases as long as the overall hike by the insurer to all Alberta clients remained at five per cent.

“Under the cap, we had insurers getting squeezed … so Albertans were finding themselves with fewer and fewer insurance options,” said Toews.

A three-member committee headed by Chris Daniels has been asked to research and recommend solutions that work for all parties within the existing privately delivered system.

The committee is to report back in the spring. Toews said the government will take action as soon as possible after that.

Daniels, consumer representative on the Automobile Insurance Rate Board, said there is no single reason for rising costs, although technology has made what used to be minor damage no longer minor.

“A lot of the sensors of those new technologies are located in the windshield, so you have a windshield replacement that used to cost maybe $300 is now costing $1,500.”

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it welcomes the review, particularly as it relates to injury claims.

“Increases in payouts for minor injuries have led the average claim size to increase by nearly 10 per cent per year,” bureau vice-president Celyeste Power said in a statement.

“Alberta’s three million drivers have said they want more affordable premiums, more choice, and care they can count on when they need it.”

Are Shoulder Checks Necessary?

Shoulder CheckDriveSmartBC

Is it really necessary to make shoulder checks while driving? If you expect to pass a driving exam in British Columbia the answer is a definite yes. However, some driving schools are teaching mirror adjustment techniques to replace shoulder checks.

The shoulder check involves briefly turning your head to the left or right and looking into your blind spots. These are areas that looking in the rearview mirrors will not reveal to a driver. A driver makes a shoulder check when changing directions or lanes to insure that there are no vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians hiding in the blind spots waiting to be collided with.

Another school of thought argues that it is best to keep your eyes forward in the direction of travel and use mirrors and peripheral vision to check surrounding traffic. The idea is that if you place your head against the driver’s door window and adjust the left side view mirror to see your vehicle in the left edge, then move your head to the center of the vehicle and adjust the right side mirror so that you can see your vehicle in the right edge it will allow you to visually cover most of the area beside and behind you with the mirrors when seated normally behind the wheel.

Peripheral vision or a glance left or right will be enough to see what is not shown in the mirrors. I was taught to shoulder check without fail in every case when I took driving instruction. The instructor told me that it was the only sure way to spot all hazards before I moved my vehicle into areas that could conflict with other road users.

I also understand that older drivers normally lose peripheral vision as a consequence of aging so the mirror method outlined above may not be appropriate for everyone. The bottom line? Before you turn or change lanes, it is up to you to make sure that it is safe to do so. Failure to look out for the safety of others will have serious consequences both during a road test and after a collision.

What I’ve Learned from a Year of Driver Monitoring

I’ve been driving with eDriving’s Mentor app for about a year now and know that it has made improvements in my skills. I haven’t cracked the top 10% barrier yet, but I’m still trying! The secret to having a high score appears to be trying to anticipate and plan for what is happening around you as you drive.

Speed is the simplest of the driving tasks to follow but does present its challenges. The riskiest of them is the tendency for other drivers to crowd your back bumper. Why some drivers feel the need to do this on multi laned highways is a bit of a mystery to me.

I wonder if telematics can use the automatic emergency braking system on newer cars to monitor this?

Sudden braking incidents can be prevented by maintaining an appropriate following distance and watching the status of traffic lights as you approach the intersection.

Is it a stale green light? Preparing for the stop doesn’t cost you anything as you are going to have to stop anyway. In fact, it can save you money in the long run by reducing wear on the brakes.

Drivers who fill in your front safety margin and then brake to get ready for a turn or make another lane change mean keeping an eye out behind and beside you as you drive. It would be helpful if they thought about signaling their intentions but the majority seem to signal as they move.

Heavy acceleration has not caused any black marks for me since the first one. I’m never in a hurry to be the first vehicle into an intersection after the lights change and I have not had to take evasive action to prevent a collision, yet.

Smooth lane changes are an easy score. Plan ahead, mirror, signal, shoulder check and change. Simple. Again, I’ve never had to make a sudden move because of the actions of another driver, yet.

The last behaviour that the app watches for are sharp turns. Experience, advisory signs and familiarity with your vehicle are a great help with this. When in doubt, too slow is better than too fast.

I’ve mentioned a potential reduction in vehicle maintenance already but there is another way the app helps pay it’s way. Driving for a good score is also driving for economy. Fewer dollars spent on fuel are healthy for both your wallet and the environment.

There is no doubt in my mind that ICBC will eventually be using driver telematics to set insurance rates. Practice now will make it easier to save money on my insurance bill in the future.

Mentor also supplies me with video training tailored to my driving habits. I’m a bit behind in watching the videos, but I’ve both learned something new and reinforced prior knowledge with them.

Overall, I’m pleased that I have taken the time to use the app. I think that it has made me a better and hopefully safer driver.

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Toronto couple baffled after their vehicle was stolen for the 3rd time

Danny Goulis has had 2 different vehicles stolen from his north Toronto driveway

Adam Carter | CBC Toronto

Danny Goulis has come to know his way around an insurance claim.

That’s because somehow, thieves have managed to steal his vehicle from the driveway of his north Toronto home on three separate occasions.

He has even had the same SUV stolen twice.

It’s a situation that has left Goulis and his wife, Kathleen Moss, baffled and frustrated.

“Obviously they have some sort of way of doing it, some sort of technique,” Goulis said.

“To take a car like this with no recourse and it’s that easy? I think there’s a problem there.”

The latest theft happened early Wednesday morning at the couple’s home in the Lawrence Park area. Goulis was having his coffee and was going upstairs to get ready for work — and that’s when he noticed his SUV was nowhere to be seen.

“I just thought, ‘Oh not again.'”

He checked his security tapes, and sure enough, someone could be seen hunched by the side of his 2017 Lexus 570 SUV just after 3 a.m.

Within nine minutes, the thief had managed to get into the car, disable the steering wheel club and drive off, he said.

“He opened the door, no key, no broken window, nothing,” Moss said.

This was the second time this vehicle was stolen. The exact same thing happened in mid-April. Police eventually found it in a shipping crate in Montreal about a month later.

Steve Kee, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told CBC News vehicles can be stolen for anything from joyrides, to shipped out of country and chopped up for parts.

“Thieves are going to look for patterns. They’re going to look for the availability to let them to do that,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that someone would have a vehicle stolen twice. That’s rare, and it’s terrible for these people to have to go through that.”

In an email earlier this year, Toronto police said they believed Goulis was the victim of an electronic car theft — specifically, a relay theft.

CBC Toronto reported on the new electronic theft methods late last year, describing how thieves can use high-tech gadgets to relay fob signals  — even from inside your home  — to a device outside, or override a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system to steal it without ever having access to the keys.

Danny Goulis is speaking out after thieves stole his Lexus for the second time. 2:08

Toronto police said last year that investigators had seen a 90 per cent jump in the electronic theft of luxury vehicles across the city from December 2017 to 2018.

In 53 Division, where Goulis is located, thefts were up 240 per cent.

An ‘industry-wide issue’

Const. Caroline de Kloet wasn’t able to provide updated statistics Thursday, but said it’s something 53 Division is still dealing with, as there tend to be higher-end cars in the area.

That, coupled with a more traditional car theft in 2013 where thieves broke into Goulis’s home, swiped the keys and drove off with another car, has him very frustrated.

Goulis told CBC News that he’s convinced there is an issue with Lexus’s fob systems.

“They’re so organized. Obviously they have some way of getting into the car,” he said.

Toyota spokesperson Michael Bouliane, which also owns Lexus, told CBC News in an email that auto theft is an “industry-wide issue” and certain vehicles are in higher demand than others.

“Our industry has been working closely with the Canadian insurance industry and police authorities across Canada to assist with investigations related to vehicle theft,” Bouliane said.

Goulis said after his last theft, Lexus told him to use a Faraday shield, which is an enclosure used to block electronic signals. He said he was also told to move his keys away from the front door.

In response, he moved his keys toward the back of the house and away from his vehicle, and used a Christmas cookie tin as a makeshift Faraday box.

Clearly, that didn’t do the trick. Now, he and his wife are constantly feeling a little wary, he said.

“You really feel like you’re worrying about everything all the time here now.”

Standard form motor vehicle insurance policy must have same meaning for all claimants


Applicant was resident of Ontario living in British Columbia. While passenger on all-terrain vehicle owned and driven by B.C. resident on public trail, applicant fell off and suffered severe brain injury. Applicant, who was named insured under Ontario automobile policy, was denied coverage for statutory accident benefits (SABs) in Ontario. Financial Services Commission of Ontario arbitrator upheld denial of benefits. Applicant’s appeal to director’s delegate and application for judicial review were dismissed. Applicant appealed. Appeal allowed. Insurer was obliged to pay SABs because vehicle was automobile that was involved in accident within meaning of relevant SABs regulations. At issue was proper interpretation and application of insurance contract provisions and Ontario statutes that governed SABs entitlement. Off-road vehicle was automobile within extended definition in s. 224(1) of Insurance Act. Ontario law governed and provisions that dictated result for Ontario dictated same result for incidents taking place outside Ontario that were covered under automobile insurance policy. Arbitrator and director’s delegate proceeded on legal misapprehension that lex loci delicti should be applied to contact and statutory interpretation issue involving Ontario contract and Ontario legislation where that legislation specifically directs that Ontario law is to apply (Insurance Act s. 123). Provisions of statutes in question and standard form motor vehicle insurance policy must have same meaning for all claimants.

Benson v. Belair Insurance Company Inc. (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 17313, 2019 ONCA 840, K. Feldman J.A., J.C. MacPherson J.A., and Janet Simmons J.A. (Ont. C.A.); reversed (2018), 2018 CarswellOnt 5476, 2018 ONSC 2297, Morawetz R.S.J., Thorburn J., and Tzimas J. (Ont. Div. Ct.). (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 5729, 2019 ONSC 1415, Casullo J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

Case Law is a weekly summary of notable civil and criminal court decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada and all Ontario courts.

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