Only 10 Per Cent of Ontario Drivers Know Policy Details
THE CANADIAN PRESS
REGINA _ A new bill is being introduced in Saskatchewan to give families of those killed by a drunk driver the chance to file a lawsuit.
Don McMorris, the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, brought in the bill on Tuesday.
It includes 20 amendments to Automobile Accident Insurance Act.
Crimes triggering a lawsuit will now be expanded to include criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily injury, street racing, or flight from police.
These changes will impact those with no fault, reduced no fault or tort insurance coverage.
The law is expected to be passed during the fall session and come into effect Jan. 1.
Two previously promised recommendations will not become law this year because McMorris says the costs are too high right now.
One is updating amounts paid for living expenses to reflect current market rates, increasing the overall amount available for assistance to those with cognitive impairment and implementing a process for those with no-fault insurance to regularly review the amounts for alignment with market rates.
The other is ending the practice in no-fault coverage of reducing income benefits by the amount a customer receives through Canada Pension Plan disability.
McMorris estimated the cost to implement those recommendations at between $53 and $63 million in the first year with an extra $8 million each year after that.
“That’s a huge cost … we’re not going to back away from it but at this point as a financial decision 1/8we are 3/8 not able to move forward with it,” he said.
If the legislation passes in fall, the amendments to the Automobile Accident Insurance Act are expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Proponents of natural gas-fueled vehicles say they can help reduce carbon emissions now but government support is needed to get businesses on board.
The alternative fuel has been around for decades but new technology developments and greater awareness of the need to bring down emissions has led to heightened interest, said Bruce Winchester, executive director of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance.
“We see some opportunities and some real potential, particularly as governments start to look at transportation as a source of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
Like most alternative fuels, natural gas still only makes up a small fraction of the fuel powering the total number of vehicles on the road. But Winchester said he sees potential for growth in medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles, where energy demands are higher.
Natural gas has about 15 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel. That can translate into a far bigger impact if trucking fleets are converted to use natural gas.
“You’re going to get bigger emissions savings when you look at an application that requires a lot of kilometres and therefore a lot of fuel burned,” he said.
He pointed to C.A.T. Transportation in Quebec that as of February had switched 20 trucks to compressed natural gas for long-haul transportation down to Texas. The company said that as a result, in the first six weeks of the year it saved 18 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
But Winchester said carbon prices are too low or non-existent to make it enough of a financial incentive to switch, especially with diesel prices at their lowest in years, which is why the industry is hoping for government help.
Ritch Murray, manager of Enbridge Inc.’s natural gas transportation division, says the $200 million for lower-emission vehicles and refueling stations mentioned in a leaked version of Ontario’s draft climate plan would go a long way.
“That’s going to be some welcome investment,” said Murray. “These are businesses and they’re looking at the bottom line. And if there’s not an incentive to fuel switch, they’re going to think twice about it.”
British Columbia and Quebec already have some forms of natural gas vehicle incentives. A spokesman for Alberta’s environment minister said the government could consider alternative fuelling options through the energy efficiency program once it’s established.
The federal government also promised $62.5 million for alternative fuels in its latest budget, but almost all of that is going towards electric vehicle infrastructure.
Murray, who manages the largest commercial natural gas vehicle fleet in Canada at Enbridge, says that for heavier-duty vehicles there aren’t really electric options, but natural gas is ready to go.
“It’s readily deployable, commercialized technology that has an immediate impact on GHGs and we can get it out right now in the heavy duty space, where there aren’t any electric options,” said Murray.
But with so many competing vehicle fuel alternatives, automotive analyst Dennis DesRosiers says governments should stay out of picking winners and losers.
“It’s not the government’s job to decide whether it’s going to be natural gas or diesel in the future,” he said. “Just set a standard and let industry figure it out.”
New drivers are the province-wide focus of June’s traffic safety spotlight.
Police will be watching for new drivers not following restrictions outlined in the Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) and Motorcycle Graduated Driver’s Licensing (MGDL) programs.
While new drivers include inexperienced drivers of any age, they are most commonly young drivers. Compared to all other age groups, young drivers account for a disproportionate amount of collisions, injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan roads. Between 2010 and 2014, drivers 19 years of age and younger represented 7.1 per cent of Saskatchewan’s driving population, yet accounted for 11.1 per cent of all collisions. Young drivers also represented 12.1 percent of drivers killed and 13.3 per cent of drivers seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision.
“Practice is key as a new driver as it helps reinforce safe driving skills and habits,” said Earl Cameron, Vice President of the Auto Fund. “The requirements and restrictions under the GDL and MGDL program are in place for a reason – to ensure new drivers and riders develop the appropriate level of driving skill and road experience before they progress into higher risk driving situations.”
SGI recommends new drivers keep the following tips in mind:
- Know the restrictions for new drivers and riders and how they affect you.
- Practice driving in different weather conditions and at different times of day.
- Gradually expose yourself to more complex and higher-risk traffic situations.
- Avoid distractions (cellphones, radio, passengers, etc.) and concentrate on the road.
- Practice complicated driving manoeuvres and traffic situations with a qualified instructor or supervising driver until you master them.
- Before driving, familiarize yourself with vehicle controls and functions.
View more information about the GDL program and MGDL program. Whether you’re a new or experienced driver, #AskAnExaminer via Facebook, Twitter, email or text to prepare for your road test or brush up on general rules of the road.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link underOnline Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.
Ride-sharing is very much in the news these days