Starting today, ICBC is moving to an appointment-based system for most driver licensing office transactions. As customer volume increases, ICBC is asking customers to book an appointment before visiting an ICBC office for transactions such as driver licence renewals and knowledge tests. This ensures that ICBC continues to adhere to physical distancing guidelines set by the Provincial Health Officer.
As of today, customers can book their appointment through icbc.com. When booking a visit to a driver licensing office, customers will be able to choose a location and time that is convenient for them, allowing customers to plan their visit in advance. Customers will be asked to arrive 10 minutes prior to their appointment and to ensure they have the required documentation with them. This online booking system is not for booking road tests.
ICBC is strongly advising customers to book an appointment at least three weeks in advance of their driver licence expiring, as walk-in availability will be limited, and waits are anticipated as scheduled appointments take place. The system will offer flexibility for rescheduling and cancelling appointments if needed. Customers will receive a confirmation email as well as two reminder emails with instructions ahead of the appointment. Consistent with public health guidelines, ICBC is asking customers not to attend an office if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
Customers who need to pay a ticket, obtain their driver history/abstract or update their address can continue to do so online or by phone.
For more information on ICBC’s services during the pandemic, visit icbc.com/covid-19.
One sure sign of growing up when we were young was the ability to use our crayons and colour between the lines. An important skill for a “grown-up” driver is also the ability to stay between the lines. Judging by the e-mails that I continually receive from readers who state that this is their main pet peeve, there is a sizable number of drivers out there who need to do a bit more skill improvement.
Staying centered in your lane is not difficult. Here’s a beginner’s tip from the Tuning Up Guide:
The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task. The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.
If you haven’t been on the inside of a curve lately and met an oncoming driver part way over the center line into your lane, a quick look at the lines painted on the road will tell you that many tires have passed over the paint and worn it away.
It shouldn’t matter if you cross over the lines when no one is coming should it? Well, it’s both illegal in that situation and will end up in a collision the first time you fail to see the oncoming vehicle. It will be really interesting if that driver is doing the same thing!
Perhaps more common still is the encroachment onto the shoulder when drivers go around a corner. This territory is the domain of pedestrians and cyclists, your vehicle does not belong there. It’s hardly likely that you would be injured or killed in a collision here but the same cannot be said for the unprotected shoulder users.
Should vehicles have to become smarter than their drivers? Your next new vehicle may have lane keeping assist to help you stay where you are supposed to be.
One side effect of this safety feature will be enforcement of signalling lane changes. If you fail to signal your lane change, the system will see this as a drift to one side and will take action to alert you.
Here in Canada, winter snow hides the lines on the road. Unless it is unsafe to do, your guide is the tire tracks left by the vehicles that have already been driven there.
So, show a little pride in your ability to be a mature, skillful driver. Keep your vehicle inside that 3.6 meter wide space between the lines. This will also show your respect for other road users and help to keep them safe. If you cannot, it’s time to put your crayons back in the box and let someone else do the driving.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.
I see ads on American TV for pay-per-mile insurance, where you just pay for how much you drive. The ads sound great; it really makes sense, especially now. Is that really how it works? Do any Canadian companies offer this? If not, why? – Rajinder, Ottawa
In Canada, we don’t have the option to buy insurance by the mile – or in our case, by the kilometre. The technology is already used here, but the rules in most provinces don’t allow it. “The regulations in the United States allow for companies to price per mile,” says Ryan Stein, executive director of auto-insurance policy and innovation at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “In Canada, our regulators decided they want to take a more cautious approach.”
Pay-per-mile insurance uses a telematics device that’s attached to your car and sends information to the insurance company – including mileage, when you drive, speed and how hard you brake.
Pure pay-per-mile insurance, offered by two U.S. companies, charges you a base monthly rate and then, on top of that, charges you for the actual distance you drive.
“There’s a monthly base rate,” Stein says. “So if you’re paying $200 a month now, your base rate would be a fraction of that.” For instance, on the website for Metromile, a U.S. company that only offers pay-per-mile insurance, a fictional 40-year-old male driving a 2015 Honda Fit in Seattle would pay a base rate of US$53 a month. Then there would be charges of 6.7 US cents per mile up to 250 miles (402 km) per day. So, driving 50 miles (80 km) a month would raise the total bill to US$56. At 200 miles (322 km), it would be US$67.
TELEMATICS FOR DISCOUNTS ONLY
Since 2012, several Canadian insurance companies have offered telematics, but, in most provinces, they can only use them to give you a discount – not to set your rates. “You get priced as you always would, but you’ll get a discount if you drive safely,” Stein says.
Stein says provincial insurance regulators in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland should change the rules to allow pay-per-mile insurance. That means they can’t use telematics data to add to your bill.
“I don’t believe there are rules against it in Quebec or New Brunswick, but most of the insurance companies are national,” Stein says. “If it were allowed in more of the major markets, that could have implications for the rest of the country.” Pay-per-mile insurance “isn’t for everybody,” because higher-mileage drivers wouldn’t save anything – but it would make sense for people who don’t drive often, Stein says.
“Look at what happened during the pandemic – people went from commuting every day to barely driving,” Stein says. “If you had pay-per-mile insurance, your premium would just automatically be lower without you having to let your insurance company know.”
PAY AS YOU GO?
In Ontario, CAA Insurance has been offering MyPace, a pay-as-you-go plan, since 2018. It’s not exactly pay-per-mile, but it lets you pay a base rate, and then pay a fixed amount for every 1,000 kilometres you drive.
The company calculates your premium the same way it normally would – based on your car, driving record, age, gender, annual mileage and where you live – but breaks it into 1000-km segments. For instance, if you normally pay $1,100 per year, you would pay an annual base rate of $200 and then $100 for every 1,000 km, CAA says. You get notices as you get closer to the 1,000 km threshold. Once you’re over, you automatically buy the next 1,000 km. “If you only drive 5,000 km in a year, you’ll save 30 per cent,” says Matthew Turack, president of CAA Insurance. Turack recommends the plan for people who drive less than 9,000 km a year. If you drive more than than that, you will pay a surcharge – CAA says it’s about $8 or less – for every additional 1,000 km.
“This fee will put you above the price of our traditional auto insurance policy,” CAA’s website says.
Turack says rules aren’t the reason CAA Insurance chose pay-as-you-go instead of pay-per-mile. “We’ve never had any resistance from the regulator,” Turack says. “CAA Insurance didn’t go to billing for individual kilometres because of feedback we saw in the States, where consumers were surprised at their bills at the end of the month.”
TORONTO _ The Toronto Police Service says it’s suspended several officers as it continues to investigate alleged corruption in the regional tow trucking industry.
Spokeswoman Meaghan Gray declined to say how many officers are involved but says they were placed on paid leave after undisclosed information surfaced in the course of the investigation.
That probe has already resulted in criminal charges against one officer, Const. Ronald Joseph, who is accused of stealing encrypted police radios that were used to help tow truck operators secure lucrative jobs.
Joseph is one of 11 people charged in the Toronto probe, while a similar investigation from the neighbouring York Regional Police has netted dozens of charges against at least 20 people.
Gray says the suspended officers are not currently facing any charges either under either the Criminal Code or Ontario’s Police Services Act.
The provincial government recently appointed a task force to draft a new regulatory framework for the towing industry, citing a recent wave of criminal activity as part of the need for tighter rules.
York police have alleged that a lucrative turf war has erupted along stretches of major provincial highways in and around Toronto, resulting in charges ranging from arson to murder. None of those charges have yet been proven in court.
The force alleged multiple tow truck companies, all with ties to organized crime, have defrauded insurance companies with vehicles involved in real and staged collisions.
Police further allege that the companies would grossly inflate towing and repair bills and move cars from lot to lot to increase storage fees.
Body shops and car rental companies were in on the suspected schemes, police said, and would receive profitable cuts for themselves.
Gray said Toronto police would announce if any of the suspended officers wind up facing charges.
You wouldn’t think the COVID-19 pandemic would have much of an impact on motor vehicle accidents given the stay-an-home measures being suggested across the province. However, the combination of warmer weather and loosening restrictions may have the opposite affect according to a motor vehicle accident personal injury lawyer.
“There are currently less people on the road,” suggests personal injury and disability lawyer Robert Deutschmann. “But as things open up, I think the general thought is that fewer people might want to take transit because of physical distancing. That might mean more people cycling or driving motor vehicles which means more traffic.”
Warm weather and a desire to isolate while on the road is also a catalyst for motorcycle riders to roll out their machines. Predictably, accidents involving motorcycles are already on the rise, with five motorcyclists killed in Ontario over the Victoria Day weekend. Surprisingly, the founder of Deutschmann Law says that motorcycle riders are not usually the ones to blame.
“People have the perception of motorcycle riders to be reckless, but most of them aren’t,” said Deutschmann, who’s firm has been providing personal injury law services in the area for over 25 years. “Most are middle age or upper age people who just want to enjoy the road. The problem is, much like bike riders, motorcycle riders or pedestrians, people driving cars are sometimes inattentive. Stats show almost two-thirds of accidents involving motorcycles are caused by drivers not seeing the motorcycle.”
Overall, there were more than 53,000 collisions on OPP-patrolled roads in Ontario in 2019, with Fridays remaining the deadliest day on Ontario roads as people rush home or to get away for the weekend. As a result, the number of injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents continue to climb annually, and that’s often a problem for victims who assume bringing a claim for injury is a simple process.
“Anytime you’ve been in an accident, the general advice is to call a personal injury lawyer to find out what the rules are with respect to bringing claims for any injury as a result,” suggests Deutschmann. “The truth is, however, that it’s difficult to bring a claim for injuries from a motor vehicle accident in Ontario.”
Deutschmann says Ontario law concerning accidents states a claim for pain and suffering and future care needs can only be made if a victim suffers “permanent and serious impairment of a physical or psychological nature.” However, that definition requires some explanation.
“The key is permanent and serious,” explains Deutschmann. “What does serious mean? Generally, serious means substantially affecting your ability to work or substantially affecting your activities of daily living. Then you can bring a claim for pain and suffering and future care needs.”
Bringing a claim for income loss is not subject to a threshold, but is still difficult. However, Deutschmann suggests that no matter how minor your accident-related injury may be, it’s important to seek some legal counsel.
“If you’ve been in an accident that’s not your fault and you’re having difficulties, maybe not able to work to the same level you could before, it’s a good idea to check with a personal injury lawyer just to review what your rights are with respect to that accident,” he said.
The personal injury lawyers at Deutschmann Law operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no cost for a consultation or for legal services unless there is a settlement in your favour.
For more information, contact Deutschmann Law at 1-866-414-4874, serving Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Elmira, Guelph, Woodstock and surrounding areas.
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It’s time to deal with all the questions in the DriveSmartBC inbox that have not prompted an article of their own. Here are 10 of them, one of which initially stumped me too. I guess that goes to show that no matter how long you have been a licensed driver, there is still something that you can learn!
Michelle would like to remind drivers that there is a good reason that they must not park in front of crosswalks. She says that it should be obvious that children are short and can easily be hidden behind a parked vehicle where approaching drivers cannot see them. If we educate drivers about the 6 meter distance, they will understand and stop parking too close.
Dax wants road users to make way for ambulances that display flashing red and white lights but are not using their sirens. While the law does not require it, this is another case where the minor inconvenience involved will benefit the people in need of medical assistance. Why not yield?
Jeff wonders about a vehicle with Texas licence plates that is regularly parked on his residential street for the past 2 years. Should he report it to the police? The police do enforce the Customs Act and may be interested but I think that I would start with the Canadian Border Services Agency instead. Their Border Watch Line is interested in any suspicious cross border activities.
Clive wants to know if he can pull the sidecar of his motorcycle rather than attaching it to run along side. A sidecar is specifically exempt from being called a trailer and requiring a separate licence plate and insurance. If you pull it behind it is no longer a sidecar and would be considered to be a trailer.
Dave was messing around with the guages on his ‘Vette and failed to note that he had changed his speedometer to read in mph instead of km/h. You guessed it, he was ticketed for driving at 159 km/h and the ‘Vette was impounded. He wanted to know if he explained the inadvertent change to the traffic court justice, could he have the excessive speed charge set aside? Sorry Dave…
Melody was riding in a group of 4 motorcycles. If they all stopped side by side at the stop line in one lane, could they all leave the stop sign at the same time when it was safe to go? In B.C. it is not legal to operate more than two motorcycles side by side in a lane unless they are passing, so there should never be 4 motorcycles side by side in the same lane at a stop sign.
Will raised a concern that taught me something. He showed a picture of a highway marked with a sign that said No Lane Change for the Next 2 Kilometers yet the roadway was marked with a single broken white line. The direction on the sign overrides the permission indicated by the broken line.
Lisa literally ran afoul of a low mounted bicycle carrier on the rear of a pickup truck while trying to enter the parking space behind it. She did not think she should be found at fault for the collision because the carrier was sticking back into the parking space that she wanted to use. The carrier was there to be seen. If your vehicle does not fit in the space, you will have to find another space.
Curt wants to know if a passenger can be charged for using a mobile device while in a moving vehicle. Our distracted driving rules only apply to the driver so the passenger need only worry if the mobile device somehow interfered with the driver. Even then I’ve investigated a collision where the passenger yanked the steering wheel causing the driver to lose control and the Crown refused to proceed with charges.
Do you have a question that you would like answered? Send me an e-mail and I’ll add it to the queue.