Santa wasn’t the only one watching for bad behaviour last month

Police throughout Saskatchewan were keeping a watchful eye for impaired drivers as part of the December Traffic Safety Spotlight, and SGI delivered warnings about the consequences of impaired driving via songs with a holiday twist that were performed live in public and streamed on Facebook.

Some people must have tuned out, though, because police reported 295 impaired driving offences, including 249 Criminal Code charges, for the month of December.

Impaired driving is the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads. Enforcement is stronger than ever, and consequences include licence suspensions, vehicle impoundments, Ignition Interlock requirements, penalties under the safe Driver Recognition program, and potential fines and/or jail time imposed by the courts.

There’s never a good reason to drive impaired, and there’s always a better choice. If you’re going to be impaired, plan a safe ride.  If you’re already impaired, don’t get behind the wheel.

Distracted driving tickets drop

With the cost of distracted driving tickets set to increase significantly on Feb. 1, December marked the second straight month of lower-than-average distracted driving offences reported by law enforcement.

Police reported 534 distracted driving offences (including 408 tickets for cellphone use) in December, which was the lowest monthly total in all of 2019, and follows a dramatic drop in distracted driving offences reported in November.  To help put December’s result into context: for the first 10 months of 2019, the monthly average of distracted driving tickets was nearly 900. It reached an all-time TSS record of 1,290 in October.

It’s too soon to draw any conclusions about what this means, but hopefully it’s the start of a trend of fewer people driving distracted. It’s a potentially deadly mistake, and — starting in February — it will be a much more costly one.

Law enforcement also reported the following results for December:

  • 4,722 tickets for speeding/aggressive driving.
  • 309 tickets for improper seatbelt or child restraint use

Follow SGI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.

Volkswagen ordered to pay $196.5M in emissions scandal

By Nicole Thompson


TORONTO — An Ontario judge has ordered Volkswagen to pay the Canadian government $196.5 million for its emissions-cheating scandal.

Judge Enzo Rondinelli made the sentencing decision hours after the company formally pleaded guilty to all 60 charges against it.

An agreed statement of fact says the German automaker imported 128,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, along with 2,000 Porsches, that secretly violated emissions standards.

The Crown and Volkswagen jointly suggested the penalty, which falls short of the maximum $265 million the company could have been fined for the charges.

But the Crown says the penalty is more than 20 times higher than the record environmental fine in Canada of $7.5 million, which was handed to a mining company in 2014.

Rondinelli says the record fine marks “a new era” in punishment for environmental crimes in Canada.

Pothole damages, can you file an insurance claim?


The excerpted article was written by Rikki Watson | DrydenNow

It’s inevitable that most drivers will hit at least one pothole this spring. But what do you do if the crater in the road seriously damages your vehicle?

Most people would say to call the city, they’re responsible for road maintenance, so they must be responsible for the damages. This isn’t usually the case.

In the majority of cases, the city will not accept liability for damages caused by hitting potholes. As long as the city is meeting the Minimum Maintenance Standards – as set out in legislation – there is no negligence on the part of the city.

This leaves two options, make an insurance claim or pay for the damages out of pocket.

To file a claim you need to make sure you have collision insurance. Going this route, getting as much information as possible, including taking photos of the damage and pothole, is always the best idea. Photos could help your claim.

A pothole claim is classified as a single-car accident as it comes under collision. Insurance providers consider the damage caused by hitting a pothole as an at-fault accident. Your collision deductible will apply, and your rates could go up at your next renewal due to filing an at-fault claim.

According to a CAA survey, Canadians pay $1.4 billion a year in pothole damages.

Sometimes the damage sustained is a lower dollar amount than your deductible, which would make filing a claim irrelevant, and you may be better of paying for the repairs out of pocket.


The Difficulty With Stop Signs

Stop LineOne wouldn’t think that stopping at a stop sign would be such a problem for drivers. It seems relatively simple, come to a complete stop, look both ways and then go if it is safe to do so. With the poor compliance rate, we should ask is the stop sign the best form of traffic control for intersections that are not controlled by traffic signals?

Let’s examine what making a proper stop means and where it has to be done. You may be surprised to learn that the stop sign itself simply tells you what you must do, not where you have to do it.

The simplest case is one where there is nothing at the intersection other than the stop sign. Here one must stop before entering the intersection itself and in a position nearest to the crossroad where a driver has a clear view of traffic approaching on that crossroad.

Where there is a marked crosswalk along with the stop sign a driver must stop before entering the crosswalk. Doing so will protect against a collision if the driver has failed to notice any pedestrians present.

One failure of our current Motor Vehicle Act is not including unmarked crosswalks in this requirement. Not all unmarked crosswalks are preceeded by a marked stop line to provide some protection for pedestrians.

The stop sign with a marked stop line seems to be the most difficult. Stop lines never seem to be placed at a point where the driver has a good view to the left and right if they stop as required. Consequently, stop lines are often ignored completely. The proper thing to do here is to stop at the line, move ahead to a point where you can see properly, stop again and then proceed after looking both ways to insure it is safe to do so.

Death by Stop Sign is an article in Psychology Today authored by John Staddon. He singles out the stop sign saying:

Look at the familiar stop sign. It does two bad things: First, it makes you look at the stop sign rather than the traffic—it distracts. Second, it doesn’t tell you what you need to know. It tells you to stop even when you can see perfectly well that there is no cross traffic. It shouts “don’t trust your own judgment!”

Dr. Staddon provides Britain as an example of how it should be done. Stop signs are a rare item beside their roads he says, you will find yield signs or their equivalent road markings instead. They have a lower collision rate than North America and yielding instead of stopping saves time and reduces pollution.

He also hints that the roundabout would be preferred over both stop and yield signs. These intersections can reduce collisions by 37% and fatal collisions by 90%.

So, until roundabouts become common in British Columbia, keep in mind that more than half of all collisions happen at intersections. Following proper stop sign etiquette places you in control in a high hazard area.

Reference Links:


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.


Do you know how much your car is costing you?

Do you know how much your car is costing you?

Jonathan Ventura · CBC News

When one Manitoban did the math, she decided to get rid of hers — and she says she has no plans of going back.

“When you really add up the costs and divide them over the year I think most people spend … a lot more than they think they do,” said Erin Riediger,​ an intern architect.

She sold her car three and a half years ago when the cost of repairs became too high.

The costs of depreciation, fuel, maintenance, and insurance all add up for most Canadians, Statistics Canada says.

According to the agency’s Household Spending Survey, the average cost of private transport in Canada is $11,433 a year.

Using resources like CAA’s car calculator and some simple budgeting, Riediger estimated owning a basic compact car would cost her approximately $8,600 a year.

But she calculates that by walking, biking, busing, carpooling, and using Winnipeg’s car share co-op, she kept her total 2019 transportation expenses to just over $2,200.

But that included about $950 to buy two new bikes and getting some work done to another. Without those one-time expenses, she says she would’ve spent an average of about $100 on transportation per month last year.

Commuting without a car

Riediger’s commute varies on the weather. In the summer she uses her bike, while in early December she starts riding the bus.

On weekends or evenings she walks or uses a vehicle from Peg City Car Co-op, a buy-in car share program that charges members an hourly and kilometre rate, in exchange for covering insurance, gas, parking and maintenance.

She’s far from alone in relying on the car share. Peg City says in the last eight years, it’s grown from a fleet of two vehicles to 42, and from 40 members to 1,700.

Growing up in in Charleswood, near the western edge of the city, Riediger says she grew accustomed to having a car.

Now, she says not owning a car is a lifestyle she doesn’t want to give up.

“[I’ve] debated the pros and cons, and the big things for me are lifestyle and also finances I can save.”

It’s a decision that she says has benefits not just for her wallet, but also for her health and the environment.

Walking or biking to the grocery store now feels less like a chore, she said, and more of an opportunity for exercise and fresh air.

‘You kinda need a car’

Not all of the commuters CBC News spoke to were sold on the idea of going car-free, though. For some, the financial costs of owning a car are worth the benefits in a city like Winnipeg.

“Winnipeg has a perception that you kinda need a car to live in this city, [with] everything being so spaced out,” said commuter Denis Cicak. “When it’s –30, you’re not going to wait half an hour for a bus.”

Cicak says where he lives would be a big factor in determining what other forms of transportation he might consider.

Riediger understands that changing commuting method can seem daunting. She admits that many are discouraged by bus schedules and unprotected bike routes.

“It’s a little bit of a chicken and egg scenario, because you need better transit to get more people to take transit but also you need people taking transit to be able to pay for it.”

Orly Linovski, an assistant professor in the University of Manitoba’s department of city planning, understands that other modes of transportation need to be made easy — but that’s not the only factor to consider when it comes to driving less.

“The environmental benefits are huge. When we’re in the midst of a climate crisis we probably cannot overstate that,” Linovski said.

“There’s impacts for your health. Even if you use public transportation, the vast majority of public transit trips have some amount of walking with it.”

Linovksi also said she sees more people who aren’t necessarily giving up their cars entirely, but are reducing car use by choosing different transportation methods for different trips.

Riediger agrees everyone needs to find the approach that works best for them.

“I’m not going to tell anybody how they should live … it’s not about taking people’s cars away,” she said, though she encourages others to try living without owning a car.

“If you just try it you’re going to feel lifestyle improvements beyond just the cost savings.”

Source: CBC News

Does Your E-Scooter Require Automobile Insurance?

The excerpted article was written by Article by Daniel Strigberger

During the second weekend of 2020, much of Ontario suffered from strong winds and heavy rainfall, causing havoc for motorists across the province. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my house. Especially not on an e-scooter.

On January 1, 2020, the Ontario Legislature launched a five-year pilot program with broad rules for the use of Electric Kick Scooters (e-scooters) on municipal roads. Among other things, the rules include several vehicle and safety requirements. These e-scooters must have:

  • Maximum speed capacity of 24 km/h;
  • Maximum weight of 45 kg;
  • Maximum power output of 500W;
  • Front and rear lights;
  • Two wheels with a maximum diameter of 17 inches; and
  • No pedals or breaks

Only one rider is allowed to use an e-scooter and that rider must be standing at all times. No baskets or cargo are allowed on the e-scooter.

Under the pilot program, municipalities must now pass by-laws to allow their use and determine where they can operate safely in their borders.

When I first read about this new pilot program, the insurance lawyer in me naturally wondered whether these devices would require automobile insurance when being operated on municipal roads. I think they might.

Automobile Insurance Requirements in Ontario

The pilot program is silent on automobile insurance, which could lead many people to assume that automobile insurance is not required for using e-scooters on roads. But what does the law have to say about this issue?

My analysis acknowledges that automobile insurance policies provide insurance for automobiles. There is no question that an e-scooter is not an automobile in ordinary parlance. It does not look, feel, sound, smell, or taste like an automobile. It looks more like a cool toy.

However, section 224 (1) of the Insurance Act has an expanded definition of “automobile”:

“automobile” includes,

(a) a motor vehicle required under any Act to be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy, and

(b) a vehicle prescribed by regulation to be an automobile; (“automobile”)

This means that if an Act requires a particular motor vehicle to be insured, it becomes an “automobile” for insurance purposes.

There are two issues here:

  1. Is an e-scooter a “motor vehicle” and, if so:
  2. Must an e-scooter be insured under an automobile policy when it is being driven on a municipal road?

The Insurance Act does not define “motor vehicle”. I turn next to section 1 of the Highway Traffic Act, which states as follows:

“motor vehicle” includes an automobile, a motorcycle, a motor assisted bicycle unless otherwise indicated in this Act, and any other vehicle propelled or driven otherwise than by muscular power, but does not include a street car or other motor vehicle running only upon rails, a power-assisted bicycle, a motorized snow vehicle, a traction engine, a farm tractor, a self-propelled implement of husbandry or a road-building machine; [emphasis added]

Is an e-scooter propelled or driven otherwise than by muscular power? I believe so. Some quick online research on e-scooters reveals that they are propelled by an electric motor, which gets its power from a rechargeable battery that is mounted to the scooter. Depending on the type and model of the scooter, the motor might power the front wheel or both wheels, thereby propelling the scooter forward.

Assuming that an e-scooter meets the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Highway Traffic Act, it would also meet the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, which adopts the HTAdefinition of “motor vehicle”.

This is where it gets interesting.

Section 2 (1) of the CAIA requires all motor vehicles that are being driven on highways (which includes municipal roads) to be insured under an automobile policy:

Compulsory automobile insurance

2 (1) Subject to the regulations, no owner or lessee of a motor vehicle shall,

(a) operate the motor vehicle; or

(b) cause or permit the motor vehicle to be operated,

on a highway unless the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance.

So if e-scooters are “motor vehicles” and they are being driven on municipal roads, the CAIA requires them to be insured under an automobile policy. And if the CAIA requires them to be insured under an automobile policy when driven on municipal roads, it appears that these e-scooters suddenly become “automobiles” for the purpose of Ontario’s Insurance Act.


What does this mean for E-scooters?

If an e-scooter is an “automobile” for insurance purposes, using these vehicles on municipal roads opens up all sorts of issues:

  1. An e-scooter would be required to be insured under an automobile policy while it is being driven on an Ontario road;
  2. The owner or lessee of an e-scooter could be charged with an offence under the CAIA if their e-scooters are being operated without insurance;
  3. If the owner or lessee of an e-scooter is injured in an automobile accident while contravening section 2 of the CAIA, they would not be allowed to sue a negligent motorist for personal injuries pursuant to section 267.6 of the Insurance Act;
  4. Where the use or operation of any e-scooter on a municipal road directly causes an impairment, the person would likely be entitled to claim accident benefits – even if the e-scooter was uninsured and even if the incident did not involve any other automobiles.

With this in mind, will automobile insurers consider insuring e-scooters under automobile policies? Will the Legislature carve out insurance requirements for e-scooters? Will I ever be able to leave the house with an e-scooter?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq



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