Drivers overpay by $5 billion over five years – Profits of $1.5 billion 2016 alone

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Changes to truck driver training gaining traction: industry group

REGINA _ The head of a national trucking group says it’s encouraging that more provinces are seeing the need for mandatory standardized training for drivers.

There are no minimum training requirements in the industry outside of Ontario, said Stephen Laskowski with the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

“What we are asking for as an alliance is all provinces to adopt a similar approach to Ontario,” Laskowski said Friday.

“There appears to be much more movement on this front, and we’re encouraging the other provinces to work with their local provincial trucking associations to move this file forward.”

The issue was brought to the forefront after a devastating collision in Saskatchewan earlier this month between the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus and a semi-truck. Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured.

The owner of the trucking company involved in the crash, Sukhmander Singh, has said the 30-year-old driver had been working for him for about a month. Singh said he had checked the driver’s credentials before hiring him.

No charges have been laid and the RCMP said it could take weeks before their investigation is complete.

In Ontario, drivers must undergo 103.5 hours of mandatory training. Drivers there must also show they can handle a loaded truck on major highways before they can get their licences.

Even then, it may be some time before companies with strong safety cultures allow new employees to drive a truck solo, Laskowski said.

“That may involve working in the yard, working in the dock, partnering up with another driver until they’re familiar with operating a commercial motor vehicle on a public highway.”

Saskatchewan’s Crown insurance company said in an internal memo sent to driving instructors this week that a mandatory training plan should be in place by next year.

The memo from Saskatchewan Government Insurance said details are still being worked out, but the curriculum is to include at least 70 hours of training in the classroom, yard and behind the wheel.

“As you know, a lot has been in the media following the Humboldt tragedy and there is a spotlight on Class 1 testing and Class 1 driver training and that’s OK. We are all united in wanting to make our roads as safe as possible,” the bulletin said.

It said SGI has been working with the industry and training schools. The company also commended Ontario’s approach.

“We are looking closely at that work and we think there is a lot that can be adapted to a Saskatchewan curriculum. Matching the full 103.5 hours is also a possibility.”

The Saskatchewan government said Friday there’s been consultation with the industry since last July, but no decision about standardized training has been made.

Alberta Transportation has reviewed Ontario’s model and is preparing options for minister Brian Mason to consider, ministry spokesman Graeme McElheran said.

“Alberta Transportation officials and industry stakeholders agree that mandatory training for commercial drivers needs to be effective, affordable and accessible,” McElheran said in a statement. “We need a program that is going to enhance safety without creating insurmountable obstacles for industry.”

The Manitoba government said this week it also is looking at standardized training and certification for commercial truck drivers, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said in a release.

“This is something the trucking industry has asked for and we want to work together in a collaborative way to see how this would work in Manitoba.”

By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

A virtual look at the reality of impaired driving

A virtual look at the reality of impaired driving

New VR simulator asks you to make the choice – and face the consequences

As students across the province get ready for graduation season, police across Saskatchewan will be focussing on impaired driving for the May Traffic Safety Spotlight.

To drive home the negative impacts of both alcohol and drug-impaired driving, SGI has a new virtual reality simulator which will be used in demonstrations by SGI’s Traffic Safety Promotion team at schools, community events and trade shows.

In one scenario, you walk into a house party in full swing, and chat with a new friend who’s been using marijuana. Some other people at the party are in a hurry to leave for a concert. Who you choose to leave the party with will impact you for a lot longer than just tonight, and whether you end up as a passenger or a driver, you’re about to get up close and personal with the reality of impaired driving.

*SPOILER ALERT*: Most scenarios end in an emergency room with a tragic outcome.

“While this is a simulation, it vividly demonstrates the very real and sad consequences of impaired driving,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “Marijuana will be legalized in the not-too-distant future, and the virtual reality simulator is another tool we have to help people understand that a single bad decision on a night out can affect you for the rest of your life.”

The VR simulator also has scenarios related to distracted driving and speeding.

On Saskatchewan roads, more people are killed by impaired driving than by any other cause. In 2016, 57 people lost their lives and 464 were injured in collisions involving alcohol or drugs.

Saskatchewan has some of the toughest impaired driving laws in the country with licence suspensions, vehicle seizures and mandatory ignition interlock for convicted impaired drivers. That’s on top of fines, jail time and driving restrictions imposed by the courts.

Federal and provincial legislation has been introduced and is expected to be passed this year to deal with drug-impaired driving. Federal Bill C-46, currently with the Senate, adds three new offences to the Criminal Code related to drug-impaired driving. The provincial government introduced legislation in November taking a zero-tolerance stance against drug-impaired driving. The legislation ensures Saskatchewan’s tough administrative licence suspensions and vehicle seizure penalties also apply to people charged under the incoming federal laws.

Here are some tips to help you make the choice to #DriveSober:

  • Be A Good Wingman, and don’t let impaired friends and family drive. Offer to be the designated driver, call them a safe ride or let them stay over.
  • Arrange a limo, party bus or shuttle for your grad group.
  • Parents – talk about the dangers of impaired driving with your children. Encourage them to call you if they find themselves in a situation where they’re with an impaired driver or are too impaired to drive.
  • Remember that impaired is impaired: alcohol and drugs are both factors in impaired driving, and mixing them impacts impairment levels significantly.
  • Just because we are heading toward legalized pot, that doesn’t make it harmless: don’t mix drugs and driving. Visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca for more information about impaired driving consequences. Follow SGI on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.

Driver was operating pickup truck while seated in folding lawn chair, police allege

THUNDER BAY, Ont. _ Police say a driver pulled over in Thunder Bay, Ont., had an unusual seating arrangement a folding lawn chair where a driver’s seat should have been.

They say an officer stopped a pickup truck on Monday afternoon after noticing the licence plates were allegedly not authorized for that vehicle.

Upon approaching the driver, police say the officer noticed the suspicious seating arrangement  the driver was sitting in a lawn chair placed in front of the steering wheel.

And investigators say that wasn’t the only thing wrong with the pickup.

They say it was impounded for a multitude of defects, including a broken windshield blocking the driver’s view, a defective door handle that effectively trapped the driver inside the truck, and no seatbelt buckles.

Police say a young driver is charged with a number of offences related to the condition of the truck, as well as driving while suspended, and operating a vehicle on a highway with no insurance.

Should you fix up or break up with your car?

Should you fix up or break up with your car?

By Philip Reed

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

You’re looking at a $1,200 repair estimate for your ailing car when an ad catches your eye: a brand new set of wheels for a mere $450 a month.

At first, dumping your old car might seem like a no-brainer and you can’t help picturing how good you would look in that new car. But automotive experts say you’ll almost always come out ahead at least financially by fixing old faithful. There are, however, other important considerations when deciding whether it’s time to say farewell.

THE COSTS OF BUYING NEW

“Even though the repair cost might hurt, you really have to think about buying a new car as a tremendously more expensive proposition,” says Jim Manelis, head of direct lending for Chase Auto Finance.

At the very least, for a reliable used car, expect to spend a minimum of $2,000, plus tax and registration fees, says Mark Holthoff, editor at Klipnik.com, a community website for used car enthusiasts. Depending on the severity of your car’s problems, “You can buy a lot of repairs for that kind of money,” Holthoff says.

Of course, there does come a point when it isn’t worth pouring money into a beater.

BUT WHERE’S THE BREAKING POINT?

“Start with the scale of the repair,” Manelis says. “Is it a $1,200 fix or is it a $5,000 fix?” Then, look up the current value of your car using an online pricing guide like Kelley Blue Book.

When repair costs start to exceed the vehicle’s value or one year’s worth of monthly payments on a replacement, it’s time to break up with your car, according to automotive site Edmunds and Consumer Reports, the product review site. As an example, say you’ve already spent $1,500 on repairs and now need a new engine for $3,500, and instead you could get a new or more reliable used car for $400 a month ($4,800 a year).

Beyond repair costs, Consumer Reports says to factor into your decision the savings from a new car with better fuel efficiency and the new car’s loss in value over time. Manelis also suggests thinking about your current car after repairs. Once it’s fixed up, what will it be worth and how long will it continue to run reliably?

To help answer the question of fixing a car or buying a new one, do a cost-per-mile comparison with the “Fix-it or Trade-it” calculator created by the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association.

However, Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds, says there’s another equally important consideration: peace of mind. “If breakdowns become frequent and you feel unsafe on the road, that’s the time to replace it.”

DECIDING WHAT TO DO

To make the best decision for your situation, consider the pros and cons of both options.

FIXING YOUR CAR

_ Faster than shopping for and buying a new vehicle.

_ No change in insurance costs.

_ The car’s history is known.

_ You won’t waste time and money advertising and selling your car.

_ But your repaired car might soon need more repairs.

BUYING A NEWER CAR

_ Purchase can include warranties and sometimes maintenance.

_ Recent cars have advanced safety features.

_ Younger cars are more reliable.

_ You’ll stop wasting time schlepping to the repair garage.

_ But a new car loan is a long-term financial commitment.

IF YOU DECIDE TO FIX UP

“It’s imperative to have a mechanic that you trust” before you move forward with any repairs, Holthoff says. For example, the service department at a dealership might be more interested in frightening you with repair bills to get you to buy a new car.

Once the car is purring again, Holthoff says to continue driving it long enough to make up for the cost of the repairs. Later, if you decide to sell, you can do so with confidence once the car proves itself reliable again, and you’ve reaped the benefit of the repairs.

IF YOU DECIDE TO BREAK UP

Even if you decide to part ways with your car, you’ll have to get it running again or sell it as-is for less money. If you can, make the repairs, then repay yourself after you sell the car.

“Honesty is the best policy,” Manelis says about selling a car with issues. Get an estimate for repairs and show that to a prospective buyer, then tell them you’re willing to reduce the price of the car by the amount to fix it.

 

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