BC Seniors to Get New Driving Assessment called the Enhanced Road Assessment (ERA)

The Superintendent may require that a driver complete an Enhanced Road Assessment (ERA) as part of the process of making a Driver Medical Fitness determination. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) administers the ERA on behalf of the Superintendent.There is no fee charged to the driver for the ERA.

For more information on the ERA, see the Enhanced Road Assessment Information for Drivers(PDF).

Some of the most common reasons for an ERA are:

  • A doctor reports a medical condition that may affect a person’s fitness or ability to drive safely
  • Results of a previous on-road assessment suggest a follow-up is necessary; and/or
  • A collision report, police report or other report indicates a driver may be unable or unsure how to handle a common driving situation

The ERA is conducted in a Class 5 vehicle and is designed to assess driving skills and behaviours at the Class 5 or Class 7 level.  It is not used to assess a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial class vehicle.

The ERA is designed as an assessment which provides RoadSafetyBC with comprehensive information, rather than a road test that is either passed or failed. RoadSafetyBC reviews the results of the ERA, along with all other relevant information in a driver’s file, in order to make a decision to maintain, re-issue, or cancel the driver’s licence. In some cases, additional information may be required in order to make a licensing decision. This may include further medical testing, or an additional ERA. All additional ERAs are at the discretion of RoadSafetyBC, based on all of the information related to a driver’s medical fitness to drive.

Please note: As of March 5, 2018, any outstanding RoadSafetyBC requirement for a Class 5 or Class 7 ICBC road test re-examination may only be satisfied by taking an ERA. For more information on your outstanding requirement, please call RoadSafetyBC at 1-855-387-7747.

Main Attractions at L.A. Auto Show

The floor at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show will look a lot like America’s roads: full of SUVs.

Hyundai and Nissan will debut new small SUVs at the show, while Subaru will take the wraps off its new three-row SUV, the Ascent. Jeep will show a new version of its rough-and-tumble Wrangler, while Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln and Porsche will debut more refined models.

A combination of low gas prices, growing millennial families and a host of new models is fueling the SUV boom. As of October, overall U.S. vehicle sales were down 2 per cent compared to the same period last year, but SUV sales were up 6 per cent, according to Autodata Corp.

The L.A. show will also have plenty of eco-friendly models in a nod to California buyers, who purchase a higher percentage of hybrids and electrics than the U.S. as a whole thanks to state tax credits and other incentives. Land Rover will debut its first-ever plug-in gas-electric hybrid, while Volkswagen will show its upcoming family of electric vehicles. Porsche will also have a plug-in hybrid.

Here are some of the vehicles being unveiled at the show, which opens to the public on Friday, December 1, 2017.

LINCOLN NAUTILUS

Lincoln’s midsize MKX SUV gets a new name, Nautilus, in an effort to separate itself from the alphanumeric luxury crowd. It also gets its first refresh since it went on sale in 2015. The 2019 Nautilus swaps its V6 engine for two turbocharged four-cylinder choices: a 2.0-litre that puts out 245 horsepower or a 2.7-litre with 335 horsepower. The Nautilus adopts Lincoln’s signature mesh grille. It also has a suite of new safety technologies, including a system that keeps the SUV centred in its lane and an evasive manoeuvring system that can automatically steer the vehicle around obstacles. The 2019 Nautilus goes on sale in the spring.

CHEVROLET CORVETTE ZR1 CONVERTIBLE

The fastest, most powerful version of General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Corvette gets its first drop-top in nearly a half-century. Chevrolet says the convertible won’t hurt the 755-horsepower car’s performance much. It’s only 60 pounds heavier than the standard coupe and still will have a top speed of over 200 miles per hour. The only changes for the convertible are the structure for the car’s folding top and repositioned seat belt mounts. The 2019 ZR1 made its debut earlier this month in Dubai. The ZR1 last had a convertible in its original model year in 1970. The coupe starts at $119,995 including shipping, while the convertible starts at $123,995. They’ll hit showrooms this spring.

INFINITI QX50

Infiniti’s midsize, five-seat SUV gets a complete overhaul, starting with a rigid but lightweight new underbody made from high-strength steel. The 2019 QX50 sits up higher than the outgoing model and has a beefier, more confident look. Under the hood is what Infiniti says is the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder automatically adjusts the pistons’ performance to optimize power or fuel efficiency. Infiniti says the engine delivers 268 horsepower and 27 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, a 35 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency over the outgoing QX50. The new QX50 also boasts Infiniti’s ProPilot driver assistance system that can automatically control braking and speed and keep the SUV within its lane. The QX50 goes on sale in the first quarter of 2018.

SUBARU ASCENT

Known for its small all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs, Subaru enters the big people-hauler market with the new Ascent. It’s got three rows of seats and can carry as many as eight people. Built in Lafayette, Indiana, the Ascent will be sold only in North America to satisfy its thirst for bigger vehicles. The all-wheel-drive Ascent is powered by a new 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Second-row captain’s chairs are optional on some versions. The price wasn’t released, but the Ascent will go on sale next summer.

 

Headlight Systems can be Complex to Police

In my time as a driver I’ve seen headlight technology progress from tungsten filament glass sealed beams to quartz halogen, high intensity discharge and now LED and even laser. There is more light on the road today from the driver’s point of view than there has ever been. While that can be a good thing if all that light is coming from your vehicle, it might not be so great if you are the one facing it.

Way back when, sealed beams tended to be dimmer and more yellowish. They were not that bright in comparison to modern systems but a driver failing to dim them was more nuisance than hazard. It was also easy to overdrive their illumination.

Quartz halogen introduced a brighter, whiter light with a filament that would last longer too. Initially, they came in a sealed beam but progressed to a housing with a replaceable bulb.

The light that they emitted was more controlled and often had an obvious pattern. They could throw more light down the road on low beam and increase your margin of safety.

High intensity discharge (HID) lamps replace the tungsten filament with a tube of gas that glowed brightly when high voltage electricity was passed through it. These were efficient and could emit a lot of light in the visible part of the spectrum in comparison to filament bulbs.

HID does have drawbacks, emitting light that tends to be bluer which we may see as producing more glare. As they age, the light emitted tends to be even more blue.

LED is efficient and can be mechanically or digitally controlled to direct light where it is needed and changes can occur in milliseconds.

Laser headlights (currently high beam only) direct laser light onto a phosphor that then glows and is emitted by the headlight.

In North America the Society of Automotive Engineers sets the standards for vehicle lighting. The federal government incorporates these standards into the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and Regulations to control how the vehicles on our highways are built. British Columbia enacts provincial legislation to insure that lighting systems continue to be used and maintained to these standards.

Policing these rules can be complex. The tungsten sealed beam system was simple and from a policing point of view it was pretty much a working / not working determination.

Replaceable tungsten halogen bulbs started the requirement for police and facility vehicle inspectors to have more detailed knowledge. Over wattage bulbs, tinted lenses, or their replacement with either HID or LED assemblies that fit but were not designed to allow the housings that contained them to distribute their light properly became a common nuisance.

It is now simple to purchase all manner of lighting on line that is marked to masquerade as meeting standards or is not marked, much less meeting any standard at all.

There is no guarantee that any of these items will produce the proper light that you need to see with or won’t be dangerous for other drivers that you share the road with.

To counter this, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes an inspection and approval protocol for vehicle lighting. While this may be practical to use in a designated inspection facility it does serve to help police at the roadside determine that problems may exist. When there is a valid suspicion the most effective policing tool may be to order the vehicle to a designated inspection facility for closer scrutiny.

Distracted driving technology pilots for British Columbians

Distracted driving technology pilots for British Columbians

With insurance rates in B.C. under escalating pressure, in part from the rapidly increasing number of crashes occurring on our roads, the provincial government, ICBC and police are launching two pilots to explore how technology can help combat distracted driving in our province.

Phone apps paired with telematics on B.C. roads

The first pilot – a partnership between government and ICBC – will include up to 200 customers using phone apps paired with telematics. Telematic technology involves fitting a vehicle with a small device that communicates with an app installed on the driver’s cellphone. The app works to block the use of a handheld device when the in-vehicle technology senses that the vehicle is being driven.

The combination of telematics with phone apps typically has allowed insurers to collect driving behaviour data, such as kilometres travelled and average speed. However for this pilot ICBC is interested in the user’s experience with telematics in their vehicle.  Findings from the pilots will be used to inform future decisions around distracted driving prevention and enforcement, as well as changes to improve the fairness of how insurance rates are set.

In the coming weeks ICBC will confirm two to three vendors whose technology will be used during the pilot, which is set to launch in January with results prepared in the spring of 2018. The technology to be used in the pilot was determined to be the most promising based on a review of submissions from a Request for Information ICBC issued in the spring.

For the pilot, ICBC will recruit volunteers from its customer advisory panel. Customers are encouraged to join ICBC’s customer advisory panel through icbc.com for an opportunity to participate in this pilot and future e-surveys to share opinions about ICBC products, services and policies. ICBC is looking for participants ages 19 years and up, from all across B.C.

Police test Bluetooth-enabled distracted driving scope

Government and ICBC will also be working in partnership with police to conduct an additional pilot to test a new distracted driving enforcement technology beginning in the spring of 2018. A Bluetooth-enabled scope will be the latest tool police will have on-hand to capture distracted driving. Units will be tested by police in varying weather and traffic conditions for usability and effectiveness. The scope will capture an image that can be instantly shared with other officers in the immediate area. That officer will then have the ability to show the image to the distracted driver.

These pilots are some of the many actions that government, ICBC and B.C. police are taking to reduce crashes caused by distracted driving.

Quotes:

David Eby, Minister responsible for ICBC and Attorney General

“Distracted driving is a high-risk behavior that jeopardizes the safety of drivers and pedestrians alike. These pilots are the first step in a thoughtful examination of the role technology can play in preventing distracted driving. I look forward to the results to help us better understand their potential to influence driver behaviour and inform changes so insurance rates are set fairly.”

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

“Distracted driving is a serious high-risk behaviour, which is now responsible for more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in our province. If new technology can help police and drivers alike put an end to distracted driving, then we’ll have helped to make roads safer in B.C.”

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

Distracted driving is the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C. The safety of our communities is the highest priority for police and it is for this reason that we are taking the initiative to explore these new technologies. We will continue to work with our partners to look for ideas to assist in changing behaviours involving distracted driving.

Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO

“While we’re eager to find ways to reduce distracted driving through this pilot with our panel, you don’t have to be part of the pilot to make a difference now. You can do that every day by simply taking a break from your phone. Apps are already available, including the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, on iPhones and some Android devices. ICBC’s rates are under considerable pressure and one of those reasons is a significant increase in crashes, many of which are the result of distracted driving.”

An expert weighs in on the high insurance rates in Peel

by Radhika Panjwani

A recent survey by the insurance company reveals among other thingsBrampton has the sixth highest frequency of collision claims per 100 cars within the last two years.

Ontario was the only province to report an overall increase in its collision frequency rate – up 4.7 per cent over last year.

So, how do the results of the survey impact insurance rates? We asked an expert.

Here’s Q/A with Dave Pereira, agency manager, from Allstate Canada

Q. Brampton has some of the highest insurance rates in the country, how do the results of the survey tie into that?

DP. Rising insurance rates are an industry-wide trend that is not connected to the findings of this study. However, rising collision rates and rising claim costs do often trigger the need for higher insurance premiums. But there are also many other factors that go into determining rates. For example, Allstate Canada looks at the claims and driving history of an individual, as well as factors such as the make and model of the vehicle to determine the cost of an insurance premium.

Q. What’s the insurance rate in for instance Hanmer, Ont. which ranks #1 in the list? Have they increased substantially?

DP. The cost of car insurance depends on many factors, including the experience level and driving history of the driver, types of coverage you want included in your policy and the kind of car you drive. One of the best ways to keep your rates lower is by driving safely and avoiding any traffic violations and collisions. Speeding tickets, impaired and distracted driving charges, and collisions will most likely result in higher premiums.

Q. How does this year’s survey compare to say last year’s?

DP. While the 2017 Safe Driving Study can tell us a lot about overall trends, we cannot draw direct comparisons to the previous year’s study. The 2017 Safe Driving Study spans a 24-month period beginning July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017. What we can offer is a comparison to data from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015.

Q. What are some of the things that jump off from this survey. What do the numbers reveal?

DP. The most notable finding from this year’s study is that while we’ve seen improvements in some regions across Canada, collisions continue to rise, with a 2.5 per cent increase in the national collision frequency rate over the previous period. This shows there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce collisions as we head into the year’s most dangerous driving season – winter.

While the data does not tell us why this trend is continuing, we believe it’s important to share the trends we are seeing to help encourage a national conversation about what it means to be a safe driver.

Q. How was the data for the survey compiled?

DP. Allstate Canada researchers analyzed collision claims data and policy claims data from its customers to determine the safest communities based on the frequency and severity of collisions. The study spans a 24-month period beginning July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017, and also offers a comparison to the data from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015. Two-year periods were chosen to provide a larger sample for more meaningful analysis.

To ensure the data provides a realistic outlook of what is happening on the roads, only communities with at least 1,000 cars insured by Allstate Canada during the 24-month period were included in the study. This year, 93 communities in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario were included.

Do you really need winter tires? It’s absolutely ‘crucial’, expert says

Do you really need winter tires? It’s absolutely ‘crucial’, expert says

Every year when temperature starts the drop and snow starts to fall, the winter tires debate springs up. From questions about when to put them on, to discussions about their cost versus road safety, consensus on the winter tire argument never seems to happen.

Each province has varying regulations and recommendation for winter tires. In Quebec, according to the provincial Highway Safety Code, all drivers must have winter tires on from December 15 to March 15 inclusively. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $300.

In Ontario, for example, there isn’t specific legislation around winter tires but you can save on your insurance premium if you use them. According to the Ontario Ministry of Financewinter tires that are in good condition can shorten braking distances by as much as 25 per cent.

Although regulations differ across the country, insurance companies and driving experts alike agree that putting winter tires on your car, no matter where you live Canada or the vehicle you drive, is imperative for winter road safety.

“Many people think winter tires are only important when driving in snowy or icy conditions but they also help with handling, maneuverability and braking in cold weather,” Kaitlynn Furse, public relations manager, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) said in a statement.

According to Andrew Comrie-Picard, a BFGoodrich ambassador, professional racer driver and stunt driver for film and television shows such as Top Gear USA and NCIS New Orleans, it’s “crucial” that every driver uses winter tires in below freezing temperatures, even if you have an all-wheel drive of four-wheel drive vehicle.

“Any tire is developed and optimized for a certain type of service use, and the conditions that we see in Canada are some of the most extreme winter conditions in the whole world,” Comrie-Picard said. “In the winter, all an all-wheel drive car will do is get you to the accident faster because while four driving wheels help you accelerate forward, they don’t help you stop any faster.”

Despite expert, insurance and government commentary on the importance of winter tires, drivers still have doubts and criticism about these seasonal products.

Why you need them

The importance of winter tires comes down the tires’ ability to grip onto the road and perform at lower temperature, so you can brake and steer effectively in the winter season. Contrary to popular belief, the necessity of winter tires is related to temperature more so than precipitation.

Winter tires…are optimized to stay flexible, and to maintain the chemical and mechanical grip on the road at lower temperatures,” Comrie-Picard said. “[Winter tires] maintain their grip for breaking, for steering and also for accelerating in those low temperatures.”

How they’re different

Winter tires contain a special rubber compound that keeps tires soft. Due to their flexibility, winter tires are specifically manufactured to ensure that tread blocks retain their structure with the softer compound.

Winter tires also have small edges or cuts that act as pressurizers on the surface. They pick up a little bit of snow, which grips onto more snow that is on the road.

The mechanics of a winter tire might make sense, but the most popular complaint that drivers have is the cost of these specialty tires. 

Why the alternatives wont’ work

Since the cost of winter tires is so high, some drivers opt for used tires as a way to save a few dollars, but professionals like Comrie-Picard are strongly against it.

A used tire, by definition, is going to have less than brand new tread depth, you’re already compromising some traction and some safety,” Comrie-Picard said.

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