Sobering truth: CounterAttack turns 40, impaired driving still serious issue

Source: ICBC

On December 1, 2017 the B.C. government, police and ICBC marked the 40th anniversary of CounterAttack.

Since CounterAttack began in 1977, alcohol-related fatalities have decreased from over 300 per year to an average of 65 related deaths*. Yet the sobering truth is that impaired driving still remains a top contributing factor for fatal crashes in B.C.

This holiday season, if you plan to drink, leave your car at home. There’s no excuse to drink and drive and there is always at least one smart alternate option—like arranging a designated driver, calling a taxi, taking transit or using Operation Red Nose where available. ICBC’s special event permit kit is also available to order for free on icbc.com for party hosts planning to serve alcohol, encouraging guests to not drink and drive.

Police will be stepping up impaired driving enforcement at CounterAttack roadchecks throughout B.C beginning December 1, 2017.

ICBC supports two impaired driving education campaigns every year and funds CounterAttack enhanced police enforcement.

The 40 year milestone of CounterAttack will also be recognized in local newspapers this month to mark the progress made to reduce the number of victims impacted by impaired driving.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General:

“Over two generations, CounterAttack and related educational activities have helped to change attitudes and behaviours, saving hundreds of lives on our roads. Still, enhanced enforcement during the holiday season remains vital. There is simply no excuse for drinking and driving, and those who do so should expect to lose their driving privileges, their vehicle, and face other severe consequences.”

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

“CounterAttack, along with tough penalties and education has impacted positively on driver behaviour. But the fact remains that people are still dying on B.C. roads because of impaired driving – either drugs or alcohol. One life is too many and the police will be out in force this holiday season to protect everyone using our roadways. We once again remind B.C. drivers: there is no excuse to drink and drive.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety

“Today, impaired driving is still one of the top three contributing factors for fatal crashes in B.C. These crashes are significant contributors to cost pressures on B.C. insurance rates. The fact is, impaired driving crashes are completely preventable. So if you plan to drink, leave your car at home or find an alternate way to get home safe.”

Additional statistics:*

  • On average, 16 people are killed in impaired driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland every year.

  • On average, nine people are killed in impaired driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island every year.

  • On average, 22 people are killed in impaired driving-related crashes in the Southern Interiorevery year.

  • On average, 20 people are killed in impaired driving-related crashes in North Central B.C. every year.

*Fatal victim counts from police data based on five year average from 2012 to 2016. Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.

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.

Canadian Coast Guard ship fined $6,000 for speeding in right whale protection area

Sept 17, 2017

OTTAWA – A Canadian Coast Guard vessel has been fined $6,000 for speeding in violation of measures aimed at protecting North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Transport Canada says the coast guard ship breached the 10-knot speed limit in the western gulf, which applies to vessels of more than 20 metres.

The penalty is the third of its kind since the speed restrictions were announced in August as part of an effort to prevent further right whale deaths in the gulf.

In each case, vessel owners have been asked to either pay the fine or ask for a review within 30 days.

Eleven right whales have died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since June, an unprecedented number of deaths for the endangered marine mammal.

Fisheries officials say the most recent carcass was located off the coast of New Brunswick on Friday morning.

 

Top 10 Ways to Help Avoid Ice Hazards

Top 10 Ways to Help Avoid Ice Hazards

Source: IBC

  1. Use designated ice surfaces.
    • Many communities have designated ponds or outdoor ice surfaces – for activities such as skating – that are maintained by knowledgeable personnel. Designated ice should be regularly tested to ensure that it is thick enough and strong enough for recreational use.
  2. Measure ice thickness in several locations.
    • Local conditions such as currents and water depths can affect ice thickness. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use.
  3. Avoid travelling on ice at night or when it is snowing.
    • Reduced visibility increases your chances of driving onto an open or weak ice area. This is a frequent cause of ATV- and snowmobile-related drowning.
  4. Never go onto ice alone.
    • A companion may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Before you leave shore, tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return.
  5. Stay off river ice and avoid the narrows between lakes.
    • River currents and moving water at the narrows where one lake flows into another can quickly change ice thickness or cause ice to be much thinner than in other locations on the river or on the lake.
  6. Wear a thermal protection buoyant suit or a lifejacket.
    • If you don’t have a thermal protection buoyant suit, wear a lifejacket or PFD over your snowmobile suit or layered winter clothing to increase your survival chances if you go through the ice.
  7. Take safety equipment with you.
    • Pack ice picks, a rope and a small personal safety kit (i.e., a pocket knife, compass, whistle, fire starter kit and cellphone) in your pockets or backpack.
  8. Avoid alcohol.
    • Alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination and reaction time and speeds up the onset of hypothermia.
  9. Don’t drive on ice if you can avoid it. If you can’t avoid it, have an escape plan.
    • Open your windows, unlock your doors and turn on available lights to allow for a quick escape from your vehicle. Some ice safety experts recommend that you have your seatbelt unfastened and your door slightly ajar to speed up an escape. Don’t wear a lifejacket while riding inside an enclosed vehicle; the extra bulk and flotation could hamper your escape through a window.
  10. Always supervise children playing on or near ice.
    • Children playing on or near ice should always be with a companion and under adult supervision.

Self-Driving Cars: Taking The Wheel Out Of Your Hands

Article by Eric W.D. Boate and Cassandra Khatchikian

Self-driving cars are no longer something we can only imagine in futuristic movies. Taken right out of James Bond, Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport is already capable of being controlled via smartphone like a remote-controlled car. Subaru’s EyeSight system has the ability to independently adjust cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. Tesla’s vehicles are equipped with a system, aptly named “autopilot”, that allows for near-full control of the vehicle during highway driving using radars and cameras to stay in the middle of a lane, transition from one highway to another, and even automatically change lanes without requiring driver input. The technology is already here, and if your car is relatively new, it’s probably already in your own driveway to some degree…

What is an autonomous vehicle, exactly?

The government of Ontario defines autonomous vehicle as a “driverless or self-driving vehicles that are capable of detecting the surrounding environment using artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates”.1

However, the distinction between an autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle is an important one, and will be increasingly more at the forefront of discussion. Whereas autonomous vehicles are, as above, fully capable of being operated without human input, semi-autonomous vehicles are those that require a driver for most normal applications of operation. These semi-autonomous vehicles have functions that allow the vehicle to take over some controls of the vehicle to attempt to avoid or lessen the severity of motor vehicle accidents, such as emergency breaking, adaptive cruise control and lane avoidance signaling.

With new technology comes new responsibility to keep our roads safe

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, on January 1, 2016, a new program was launched to allow auto manufacturers, under specific regulations, to begin testing on self-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles. Interestingly, Ontario is the first province in Canada to allow road tests of autonomous vehicles.

driverless or self-driving vehicles are capable of detecting the surrounding environment using artificial intelligence…

The implementation of the pilot project has strict rules and restrictions to ensure safety for those involved with the testing phase of these cars. For example, the pilot is restricted to using these vehicles only for testing purposes, only vehicles manufactured and equipped by approved applicants are permitted and the driver must remain in the driver’s seat of the vehicle at all times and monitor the vehicle’s operation, to name but a few. The full list of the parameters and rules related to the pilot project is set out in Regulation 306/15 Pilot Project-Automated Vehicles, a regulation under the Highway Traffic Act.2

Turning the tables on liability

The introduction of this new groundbreaking technology comes with legal uncertainties. Litigation specialists can’t help but wonder how courts will determine liability when self-driving cars are involved in motor vehicle accidents.

This issue has already come up several times worldwide. The first known death associated with autonomous vehicle function occurred recently in Florida, USA on May 7, 2016, where a man was killed in a motor vehicle accident while driving a Tesla Model S with ‘autopilot’ engaged.

Tesla issued a statement following the tragedy and indicated that though the autopilot is getting better all the time, it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert while the car is in use.3 In fact, when the self-driving mode in Tesla vehicles is activated, there is an acknowledgment box that specifically warns drivers that the mode should be used as an assist feature only and that the driver—s hands should still remain on the steering wheel.

Venturing into unknown territory with liability

The golden question remains: If a motor vehicle accident involving an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle occurs, who will be held liable, the car or the driver?

The answer will likely depend on the specific facts of the incident. For example, these could include: Whether the autonomous hardware of software malfunctioned, whether the owner properly maintained the vehicle, or whether the driver correctly operated the vehicle while the autonomic functions were enabled.

With the introduction of these autonomic and semi-autonomic vehicles, the courts will be assigned the new task of determining liability. The determination of liability gets complicated when considering that, no automobile manufacturer creates all components of its vehicles “in-house”: the reality is that the hardware and software for these autonomous functions are created by numerous parties.

Determining fault will likely require a determination of what specifically caused the incident. Various parties may be on the hook when a motor vehicle accident involving an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle occurs. For example, these parties may include the software development team, the manufacturer of the camera sensors, and the owner and operator of the vehicle. With that said, one thing is certain: the number of party litigants is going to increase in these cases.

To date, there is no case law on this topic that we can look to for guidance; however, it will be interesting to see how the courts will treat the introduction of this new technology in the determination of liability for motor vehicle accidents.

In Ontario, the courts look to the common law for direction in determining liability in litigation involving motor vehicle accidents. Now, with the impending introduction of autonomous vehicles, it will be interesting to see how product liability will be incorporated into the determination of liability by the courts. Courts similarly look to the common law for authority in determining product liability, but can also look to provincial legislation governing consumer goods, such as the Ontario Sale of Goods Act.4

Only time will tell if this new technology will, in fact, lead to fewer motor vehicle accidents, thus reducing the associated costs for insurance companies.

It is not yet known how auto insurance will be affected by autonomous vehicles. With the promise of making driving safer, should insurance premiums be reduced for those who drive safer vehicles? This will of course beg the question as to whether autonomous functions actually make vehicles safer.

Only time will tell if this new technology will, in fact, lead to fewer motor vehicle accidents, thus reducing the associated costs for insurance companies. It is almost certain that auto insurance policies will require an update to keep pace with the burgeoning proliferation of autonomic and semi-autonomic vehicles.

Costs aside, the interplay between auto insurance policies and commercial general liability policies will certainly need to be addressed, at least from the product liability perspective, since many commercial general liability policies, including those which cover software or camera manufacturers, specifically exclude coverage for liability arising out of the ownership or use of an automobile. This leads to the question that if an autonomous vehicle’s software or camera fails, which, in turn, leads to a crash, could the software or camera manufacturer’s insurer deny coverage based on the fact that liability arouse out of the use of an automobile? Under the current wording of insurance policies, this is a possibility.

While it is clear from the above that there are many uncertainties with respect to autonomous vehicles, at least from a legal perceptive, our lawyers will continue to keep abreast of liability issues surrounding automatous vehicles, so as to keep our clients updated to this ever changing area of transportation law.

Footnotes

1. Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Ontario First to Test Automated Vehicles on Roads in Canada, Province Supports Innovation in Transportation Technology, 2015(Ontario, Ministry of Transportation, 2015)

2. O. Reg. 306/15: Pilot Project – Automated Vehicles, under the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, C. H.8

3. The Tesla Team, A Tragic Loss, June 30, 2016,

4. Sale of Goods Act, RSO. 1990, c.S.1.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Off-Duty Conduct: What Can Happen When Employees Go Viral

By Michael Horvat | Mondaq

It seems that a week cannot go by without the news reporting on a seemingly private or embarrassing event that has gone public. With the abundance of cameras in our daily public lives and the instantaneous sharing of information, our actions and statements can be easily broadcast as they happen. Our new “public” life is ever more on display. Some recent examples include being caught on video engaging in public mischief (such as throwing a beer can onto a sports field on national television) or engaging in a post on Twitter or other social media sites with “friends” that is resent or retweeted for everyone to see. How employers and their employees cope and navigate the greying line between an individual’s private life and their connection to the workplace is likely to become of greater issue, especially among a new generation of employees who have grown up in a world of social media and use it as their primary vehicle of communication.

As employees become more aware that their employers are noticing what happens away from the office or shop floor, employers must equally understand that there are still limits as to what behaviour they can regulate when the work day has ended.

In the past, there used to be a clearer time and distance aspect with respect to off-duty conduct. If it happened away from the workplace and outside of work hours, it was presumed to be the employee’s own business and, strictly speaking, of no concern to the boss, unless it tied the company brand and employee together in a bad light.

The law regarding an employer’s response to off-duty employment conduct has evolved as the web of social connections between employer and employee ties them together outside of regular business hours. Bullying behaviour in the office has to be addressed, so why not address bullying that occurs on Facebook or Twitter. Human Resources departments now have no choice but to take notice and act, whether it is to address potential harm that may arise from bad publicity or to address concerns by co-workers due to comments or actions made by colleagues in “private” internet communications that have become public. (Anecdotal evidence counters the notion that anything on the internet or that is electronically distributed is or can remain private.)

Employees must understand that companies will act to address off-duty conduct when that conduct could detrimentally affect their image, brand or business, or otherwise impact the well-being of coworkers. In some cases, employers will have no choice but to engage in an investigation into such behaviour and discipline or terminate the employee if misconduct is found to have occurred. For example, under recent changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Ontario companies are now mandated to have policies in place regarding the reporting and investigation of harassment and sexual harassment complaints. The application of such policies extends beyond the workplace. Off-duty comments made on Facebook towards a co-worker can create a hostile work environment as easily as comments made in the lunchroom.

Consequently, it is recommended that all employers have policies which provide direction to their employees about their use of social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). These policies should caution their employees about the use of technology both at the workplace (when using company email and computers) and away from the workplace. The policies should also refer to the company’s harassment policies and code of conduct rules and advise employees that offduty conduct can also be subject to investigation and discipline (including discharge). Finally, employees must be trained in the application of these policies and the company must consistently review and enforce their application.

However, employers must be prepared to distinguish between actions which create a public relations issue (our employee has embarrassed the company) that require only a public relations response, with a human resources issue (our employee has breached policy and caused damage to the company’s goodwill or to another employee) which could require investigation and discipline.

Not every case where harm is caused to the company’s brand or reputation will require a human resources response and the harm or potential harm caused will only be one factor among many when determining if investigation and discipline will be appropriate in the circumstances. Other factors will include the degree of responsibility exercised or public position held by the employee, and whether the misconduct will hinder that employee’s ability to perform his/her job and/or  their ability to work with co-workers and their co-workers corresponding willingness to continue to work with them.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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