UBC researchers call on province to roll back 120 km/h speed limits on 1,300 km of roads

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5 drivers with no insurance, licence pulled over in St. John’s region

One woman was on a Canada-wide driving ban; police impounded all of the vehicles

CBC News 

In just 12 hours on Tuesday, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary pulled over five drivers who didn’t have insurance or a licence.

Around noon, officers pulled over a vehicle and found the driver had a suspended licence.

The 48-year-old woman also didn’t have insurance.

Officers pulled over another vehicle around 7:30 p.m. for defective equipment.

They found the driver was suspended from operating a vehicle, and the vehicle was not insured.

Two more uninsured drivers were pulled over in Kilbride just after 10:30 p.m.

All of those drivers were given tickets and had their vehicles impounded.

And earlier in the day, a woman was found to be driving on a Canada-wide ban and with a suspended licence.

The vehicle she was driving was pulled over around 8:30 a.m. in Conception Bay South.

The 33-year-old woman was arrested and held overnight, and the vehicle was also impounded.

Source: CBC News

#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.

 

Drivers’ licence suspension system ‘fundamentally flawed’: Ontario ombudsman

By Peter Cameron

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Ontario’s ombudsman says the system for notifying drivers that their licence has been suspended is  “fundamentally flawed” leaving many people unwittingly driving with invalid licences.

In a report released on Thursday, Paul Dube makes 42 recommendations designed to make the system fairer and keep drivers better informed of their status.

Dube says the Ministry of Transportation has already begun to address the recommendations and overhaul the way it notifies drivers whose licences are suspended for unpaid fines.

For example, Dube says one woman was shocked to learn in 2016 that her licence had been cancelled four years earlier over a speeding ticket.

Although she had paid the fine, she was unaware she had to pay a licence reinstatement fee, and said she never received any notice that her licence was invalid.

The report says it ultimately cost her several days off work and hundreds of dollars to reinstate her licence, because the ministry required her to go through the graduated licence system meant for novice drivers.

About 90,000 Ontario drivers have their licences suspended for unpaid fines every year, Dube said.

“In 2017, an estimated 5,000 of the notices that were mailed to them were returned to the ministry, undelivered … but the ministry doesn’t track returned mail so it has no record of which drivers didn’t get the notices,” he said.

“We have heard from drivers who went for years without knowing their licences were suspended,” Dube said.

“When they finally found out, it was through their insurance company or police, not the ministry _ which then treated them as brand new drivers, requiring them to go through the graduated licencing program to have their licences reinstated,” he said.

“Even when the system works as intended, we found it is fundamentally flawed,” the ombudsman said.

Drivers are only ever warned that failure to pay fines “may” not “will” result in licence suspension and suspensions take effect on the day they are mailed before drivers receive them, he said.

Dube noted he will monitor this issue as the ministry reports back to his office every six months on its progress in implementing the recommendations.

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.

 

ICBC reports ‘high volume’ of claims after acid spills on B.C. highway

TRAIL, B.C. _ A major mining company has apologized after two acid spills earlier this year damaged a large number of vehicles in southeastern British Columbia.

Teck Resources says the two spills of sulphuric acid happened on April 10 and May 23, along a busy commuter route in Trail, after the company sold the acid and it was being moved.

In the first spill, about 220 litres of acid leaked as a truck travelled a 16-kilometre stretch of highway, and in the second, about 70 litres dripped from the truck over six kilometres along the same route.

Teck says both spills were cleaned up, no acid seeped into area waterways and there is no damage to roads or bridges.

But the Insurance Corporation of B.C. says it is dealing with “an extremely high volume of claims” from vehicle owners.

It has set up a dedicated phone line for drivers who may have travelled the road and an adviser who answered the line says the acid has the potential to corrode vehicle undercarriages, especially brake lines and brake systems.

Teck says the spills are unacceptable and the company is “working with the parties involved in acid transportation to prevent any recurrence.”

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