#ICBC cautions drivers: expect unpredictable road conditions this long weekend

Snow, sleet, rain, hail and fog are just some of the challenging fall conditions you should be prepared for on B.C. roads if you’ll be travelling this Thanksgiving long weekend.

On average, four people are killed and 650 people are injured in 2,100 crashes in B.C. over Thanksgiving long weekend.*

As of October 1, drivers are required to use winter tires on many B.C. highways including parts of Vancouver Island, Highway 99 to Whistler, and most highways in the Southern Interior and northern B.C.

ICBC’s Drive Smart tips:

  • Know your route. Weather is unpredictable and varies greatly at this time of year so check road and weather conditions before your trip at drivebc.ca.

  • Prepare your vehicle. With summer weather long over in parts of the province, make sure your vehicle’s seasonally prepared. It’s just as important to prepare your vehicle as it is to adjust your speed for the road conditions. Make sure your vehicle’s headlights and taillights are in working order, keep wiper fluid topped up for clearer visibility and don’t drive with badly worn or under-inflated tires.

  • Need winter tires? Winter tires are now required on many B.C. highways. Winter tires are labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow designation (M&S). They must also be in good condition with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm.

  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are for ideal road conditions. When driving on snow, ice, slush or in rain or fog, slow down. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on wet or slippery roads and avoid driving through flooded or washed out roads.

  • Take a break from your phone. Let calls go to voicemail and ignore your notifications while driving. If you have to take a call, pull over when it’s safe to do so; stay focused on the road and keep the conversation brief. Make sure you’re focused on driving before re-entering traffic.

Regional statistics:*

  • In the Lower Mainland, 490 people are injured in 1,400 crashes over the Thanksgiving weekend.

  • On Vancouver Island, 78 people are injured in 280 crashes over the Thanksgiving weekend.

  • In the Southern Interior, 56 people are injured in 300 crashes over the Thanksgiving weekend.

  • In the North Central region, 18 people are injured in 140 crashes over the Thanksgiving weekend.

*Crash and injury counts based on ICBC data (2013 to 2017); fatalities based on police data (2012 to 2016). Thanksgiving long weekend is calculated from 6 p.m. the Friday prior to the holiday to midnight Monday.


CONSUMER WARNING – Allegations of Forgery, Odometer Tampering, Fraudulent Vehicle Transfers & Illegal Sales

Allegations of forgery, odometer tampering, fraudulent vehicle transfers and illegal sales has resulted in the IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION of KK Motors Canada Inc., 6295 Mississauga Rd, Unit 215A, Mississauga, and of Kajendran Kasippillai, KK’s sole officer and director, by Ontario’s regulator of vehicle sales, OMVIC. As a result, KK Motors Canada Inc. and Kasippillai may not legally sell, lease, buy or consign vehicles.

OMVIC found the dealer purchased insurance write-offs from salvage auctions. These vehicles were repaired and sold to consumers, often not by KK Motors directly, but rather by unregistered businesses or individuals working for, or with, the dealer. “OMVIC believes that in order to distance themselves from these vehicles, KK Motors Canada Inc. forged documents and fraudulently transferred these vehicles into the names of past customers, prior to making the vehicles available for sale by the unregistered businesses and individuals, ” states John Carmichael, OMVIC CEO and Interim Registrar. “Most purchasers didn’t know about KK Motors; they thought they were buying the vehicles privately.”

Of 13 vehicles OMVIC investigated, six appeared to have rolled-back odometers. One, a 2007 Honda Odyssey was sold in June by one of KK Motors’ associated sellers with an odometer reading of 141,411 kms; four months earlier the mileage for the Odyssey was reported as 335,230 kms. “OMVIC is alleging the fraudulent manipulation of odometers was done by, or on behalf of, KK Motors Inc.,” explained Carmichael.

An investigation of the unregistered businesses and individuals who actually sold the vehicles is ongoing.

Dealer’s Past-History

KK Motors Canada Inc. and Kajendran Kasippillai have a past history of non-compliance: in 2012 the dealer was found in breach of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and fined $1,500 for advertising a vehicle without disclosing in the ad that it had been placed by a registered dealer.  Additionally, the dealer was found to be in breach of OMVIC’s Code of Ethics and fined $5,000 in 2014 for failing to properly disclose material facts related to the past use, history and condition of vehicles it sold, including significant accident repair histories.

Immediate Suspensions

OMVIC only issues an immediate suspension order when the regulator believes a dealer’s conduct may place the car-buying public at risk. Note: a dealer may appeal an Immediate Suspension Order and a hearing will be held within 15 days before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT). The Tribunal will determine if the order should be extended until a final determination is made regarding the associated Proposal to Revoke Registration.

Advice to Past Customers of KK Motors Canada Inc.

OMVIC encourages consumers who have previously purchased from KK Motors Canada Inc. or Kajendran Kasippillai to have their vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic for problems not disclosed by the dealer/salesperson. Consumers should also consider purchasing a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) available from ServiceOntario, or a CARPROOF/CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report to check odometer histories.

OMVIC also encourages previous KK Motors Canada Inc.’s customers to run a credit check to ensure that their name/identity was not used fraudulently, and to visit any ServiceOntario location to purchase a ‘personal history’ report of all vehicles that have been registered to them. This is sometimes referred to as a personal RIN search. The cost is $12.

CONSUMERS ARE WARNED not to buy or lease vehicles from, or sell or consign vehicles to, KK Motors Canada Inc. or Kajendran Kasippillai while the dealer’s registration is suspended. Consumers who trade with an unregistered business or individual are not protected by the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.

Consumers with questions or concerns should contact OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team at: 1-800-943-6002×3942.

About OMVIC Registration
Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) requires all dealers and salespeople be registered with OMVIC. Unregistered selling (curbsiding) is a serious offence: individuals convicted of curbsiding can be fined $50,000 and/or be jailed for up to two years less a day.

OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) administers and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario’s 8,000 dealerships and 27,900 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions (or discipline proceedings) of industry misconduct and illegal sales (curbsiding). OMVIC also administers the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.

About the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund

The Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund is funded by Ontario’s registered motor vehicle dealers and provides compensation to consumers who have a valid claim against an Ontario-registered dealer. Qualifying consumers may be eligible to receive up to $45,000 for each valid claim to the Compensation Fund. Since its inception on July 1, 1986, the Compensation Fund has paid out more than $5 million to consumers.

SOURCE Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)

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New Brunswick auto insurers seek largest rate hikes in 16 years

Excerpted article as written by Robert Jones · CBC News

A group of New Brunswick’s largest automobile insurance companies is applying for the steepest rate hikes in 16 years.

But bigger bills won’t be hitting drivers until weeks after New Brunswick’s provincial election at the end of the month — making the topic unlikely to rile up voters like it has in previous campaigns.

“Increases will be significant,” said Michele Pelletier, New Brunswick’s consumer advocate for insurance.

“They say, ‘OK, we’re having some really big losses,’ that’s what they’re telling us and they’re asking for bigger increases.”

Rising auto accident claims in New Brunswick, in part caused by more generous government rules around what accident victims can claim compensation for, has turned the province from what used to be the most profitable jurisdiction in Canada for auto insurance companies — into one of their most troublesome financial sinkholes.

According to Canada’s General Insurance Statistical Agency [GISA], auto accidents in New Brunswick generated $376.9 million in claims in 2017. That’s a $144 million — 62 per cent — more than five years earlier with no increase in premiums to pay for it.

GISA numbers show between 2012 and 2017 the average premium paid by drivers in New Brunswick actually fell 53 cents to $803.15 per vehicle.

Pushing drivers to pay more

Pelletier said it was only a matter of time before companies started pushing for drivers to pay more.

“None of us want to have higher premiums. I’m the first one to say I’m paying enough,” said Pelletier.

“But there were signs, we could see signs.”

The New Brunswick Insurance Board is starting to hear applications from insurance companies seeking rate hikes to deal with surging claims costs. (CBC)For insurance companies, surging claims crashing into stagnant premiums has splattered red ink all over their New Brunswick business and sent them speeding to the province’s regulator — the New Brunswick Insurance Board — to apply for higher rates.

Next month the board will hold hearings into an application from New Brunswick’s largest auto insurance company — Wawanesa — to raise its premiums on more than 85,000 provincial policy holders by an average of 11.7 per cent. This includes increases of 17 per cent of about 30,000 of those drivers.

The company wants approval to begin charging new customers elevated prices on Jan. 1, and then pass the increases onto existing customers throughout next year whenever drivers’ current policies come up for renewal.

Pelletier and the province’s Office of the Attorney General are both intervening in the Wawanesa hearing on behalf of consumers, but it will be an uphill fight to derail the application.

Low auto insurance rates

New Brunswick has some of Canada’s lowest auto insurance rates, 30 per cent less than in Alberta and more than 40 per cent cheaper than in Ontario.

In a hearing into an eight per cent rate hike application by the Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company earlier this summer, Pelletier and the Office of the Attorney General both intervened and then withdrew when it became apparent the increase was justified.

Former premier Bernard Lord won a narrow election victory in 2003 after widespread anger over skyrocketing insurance premiums became a campaign issue. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)In a ruling two weeks ago the Insurance Board granted Dominion’s application in full.

But Wawanesa and Dominion are not alone.

Economical Insurance, which covers more than 44,000 of New Brunswick drivers, has applied for a 14 per cent increase on 38,000 of those customers with lesser increases for the rest.

Allstate, which covers 33,000 New Brunswick drivers, has applied for an average rate increase of 9.9 per cent on its customers for the second year in a row.  That includes 15 per cent increases on 5,000 of its policy holders.

Pembridge has also applied for an average 9.9 per cent increase on its 17,000 New Brunswick clients with Aviva asking for 10 per cent increases on roughly 14,000 of its more than 25,000 provincial policies.

The province has not experienced auto insurance increases of that size since 2002 and 2003 when rising accident claims last triggered major premium bumps.

Widespread public anger nearly toppled Bernard Lord’s government in the 2003 provincial election.


Distracted Driving Statistics – What to Believe?

I received an interesting fact sheet from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) this week. It looks at distracted driving related fatal collisions in Canada from 2000 to 2015. In some Canadian provinces this type of fatality has surpassed the total caused by alcohol impaired driving. However, that’s not the part of the document that made me pause.

Distracted driving to many means the manual use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. In reality, distractions include being engaged with entertainment or communication devices, engaging with passengers in the vehicle, or eating, smoking or personal grooming while driving, among other examples. Doing anything that takes the driver’s attention from the driving task could be considered as distracting.

This caveat in the preface to the report was what really captured my attention:

It should also be noted that in some collision report forms, investigating officers may code the driver condition as ‘distracted, inattentive,’ meaning there was a general lack of attention exhibited by the driver but there was no specific source of distraction identified.

To me, distracted and inattentive are two different things. Lumping them both together does not paint a true picture of the problem.

Collision data gathering can be a complicated task. In order to be reliable, it must be done promptly, carefully and thoroughly by investigators who gather as much data as possible, considered for accuracy and then reported in a consistent manner.

That was on the minds of the people who produced the TIRF report:

Fatality data from British Columbia from 2011 to 2015 were not available at the time that this fact sheet was prepared. As a result, Canadian data presented have been re-calculated to exclude this jurisdiction and make equitable comparisons.

This politely worded statement could mean many things. TIRF did not give adequate time between the request for data and the writing of the report. It takes more than 3 years for B.C. bean counters to determine a result. B.C. refused to share the data with TIRF. Worst of all, maybe B.C. really has no idea what that data is.

Our government chose to discontinue the requirement to report a collision to the police in July of 2008. Currently, ICBC claims personnel are the only ones in a position to gather the majority of collision data.

If we can’t share data with TIRF, can we be sure that what we are being told about the impact of distracted driving is true?

No doubt it is taking place as the police issued about 43,000 tickets for using electronic devices while driving last year and we know that the consequences of doing so can be terrible, but how many of the 960 collisions that happen each day in B.C. can be blamed on driver distraction?

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 of 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.


#DriveSmartBC: A Different Approach to School Zone Safety

Seven years ago I wrote about a safe trip to school, commenting on my experience that a significant part of the safety problem was caused by teachers and parents themselves. Their driving behaviour as they showed up to work or dropped off their children sometimes left a lot to be desired. Did they not realize that they were creating their own problem?

At that time, the only solution that I had to offer was the walking school bus. This is where parents take turns walking the neighbourhood group of children to school. Everyone benefits from the exercise, the children are safer and traffic congestion at the school is reduced.

We know that there’s a problem, but how do we deal with it? The City of Toronto is trying an Active and Safe Routes to School pilot project as a part of their Vision Zero Road Safety Plan. This will see areas around schools being designated as Community Safety Zones.

These zones will see painted crosswalks, active speed reader signs. increased enforcement and higher penalties.

Of the four, the only one that I know for sure results in a measurable effect is the speed reader sign. It’s always there and working.

Do the police have the resources to maintain an enforcement level necessary to result in a lasting level of compliance? Would we accept automated enforcement in school zones? The current political climate in B.C. seems to indicate that it is possible, but as yet nothing has been implemented.

Vienna Austria, Bolzano Italy and Haddington Scotland have taken a different approach. They have decided to exclude motor vehicle traffic around primary schools. Vienna’s closure is at the start of the school day, with Bolzano and Haddington at the beginning, lunch hour and end of the day.

These are pilot projects for Vienna and Haddington, but Bolzano has had this program in place for 21 years. Bolzano found that traffic jams are reduced and safety has increased, reducing the collision rate by half, resulting in about 45% of students walking to school.

Traffic calming measures lie somewhere in between. Here are some examples from the Netherlands. The use of signs, coloured pavement, marked crosswalks and chicanes are markedly different from what is found here in B.C.

ICBC says that every year, 380 children are injured in crashes while walking or cycling and six are killed throughout the province. In school and playground zones, 86 children are injured. Read their full press release.

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