Insurer: Not such a Merry Christmas after more than 350 drunk driving offences

REGINA _ Saskatchewan Government Insurance says too many people are still making the poor decision to drive after drinking.

SGI says there were 343 Criminal Code charges laid in December for impaired driving, having a blood alcohol content over .08 or refusing a breath test.

It says another 10 people were charged with having a blood alcohol content between .04-.08.

They received a three-day licence suspension, but under tougher laws that came into effect Jan. 1, those drivers would have also had their vehicle seized for three days.

December marked the third consecutive month where SGI and Saskatchewan law enforcement focused on impaired driving.

A provincewide traffic safety blitz on impaired driving caught more than 330 drunk drivers in October and there were 279 drunk-driving offences in November.

“It’s certainly disappointing,” said Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of the auto fund.

“After extensive coverage in the media about safe ride options, increased enforcement and the tougher impaired driving laws that would be coming into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, people are still choosing to drive when they shouldn’t.”

Top 10 Business Risks for North America in 2017

Information provided by Allianz Risk Baramoter

The Top 10 Business Risks for North America in 2017:

1: Business interruption (incl. supply chain disruption, and vulnerability)
2: Cyber incidents (cyber crime, IT failure, data breaches, etc.)
3: Natural catastrophes (e.g. storm, flood, earthquake)
4: Market developments (volatility, intensified competition/new entrants, M&A, market stagnation, market fluctuation)
5: Changes in legislation and regulation (government change, economic sanctions, protectionism, etc.)
6: Fire, explosion
7: Macroeconomic developments (austerity programs, commodity price increase, deflation, inflation)
8: Loss of reputation or brand value.
9: New technologies (e.g impact of increasing interconnectivity, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, drones, etc.)
10: Theft, fraud, corruption
Tips to get your Christmas tree home safely without damaging your vehicle

Tips to get your Christmas tree home safely without damaging your vehicle


Strapping a Christmas tree to your vehicle can be tricky, and many of us have witnessed some downright dangerous attempts during the holiday season. Not only is safety important, but an auto insurance claim because of scratched paint or a traffic accident may put a damper on your holiday spirit.

Each year, 30 million to 35 million American families celebrate the holiday season with a fresh, farm-grown Christmas tree, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. One of the main challenges many of these households face is getting their perfect tree home without extra expense, damage to their automobile, physical injury, or leaving unsafe debris on the roadway.

Avoid auto insurance claims and ensure the safety of your passengers, other motorists and pedestrians by following these 9 tips.

1. Take measurements

Make sure you know the size of the tree you can accommodate. Before you leave the house, measure the height of the room where you plan to display the tree; it should be at least a foot taller than the tree you buy. Know the width of the space to help you gauge how much tree you can handle.

Also, make sure to measure your vehicle’s interior storage area and roof. It doesn’t do much good to know you can fit an 8-foot tree in the living room but can only handle a six footer on your Toyota.

2. Dress properly

Wear jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, jacket or sweatshirt, and don’t forget work gloves. The branches, needles and other sharp tree parts can poke you in all the wrong places. And wear comfortable shoes with nonslip soles.

3. Items to take with you

You’ll need a tarp, old blanket or heavy plastic sheets to protect your vehicle. Also, be sure to grab the right materials to secure the tree: good rope, twine, ratchet-style tie downs or bungee cords.

Many lots won’t tie the tree on the car for you to avoid an insurance nightmare for the lot if an employee damages your vehicle, so bring a friend to help carry and secure your tree.

4. Wrap the tree

Most trees are sold in netting, which you should leave on so that the branches stay tightly bundled and so that carrying the tree is more manageable.

No net? Shake the tree to rid it of loose needles, then wrap it in a blanket or tarp.

5. Cover your vehicle 

To avoid paint scratches, lay your tarp or blanket out on the roof of your vehicle before placing the tree up there. Spread it out to cover the entire top to also protect from pieces that fly off while driving down the road.

If you’re hauling the tree in the back of your SUV or minivan, lay down a blanket or tarp to protect your interior from sap stains.

6. Pick the perfect tree (for hauling)

Yes, that 10-foot Evergreen looks amazing on the lot, and it may even fit inside your living room with a bit of trimming, but will it fit on the roof of your SUV? Can you lift it once you get it home?

Be sure that you’re picking out a tree that is not only free of bare spots, but will also realistically fit on top or inside of your vehicle without extending too far past the bumper.

7. Position the tree in the right direction

To keep your tree stable and avoid wind damage when driving, center the tree and arrange it so that the stump end faces the front of your vehicle. The best way to transport a tree is to cover it completely to keep the wind from drying it out, so if you have a second tarp handy, roll the tree up in it before hauling it onto the roof.

8. Secure the tree to your vehicle

If you have a roof rack, secure the tree from where the branches start to its tip, with bungee cords or rope.

It’s not recommended that you put your tree on your car’s roof unless it has a roof rack. However, if you do so, first open all their car doors—not the windows—then tie the tree snugly to the roof with rope.

For trees that extend more beyond your car’s bumpers, tie a reflective flag to the end to alert 
other drivers.

If you’re hauling your tree in a pickup truck, there could be hot spots in the truck bed—from the exhaust pipe, for example. This can damage the tree’s needles, so put something under it, such as an old blanket.

Before you leave the lot, make sure to give the tree a firm tug to ensure that it’s not going anywhere. If it budges, you probably need to pull the ropes tighter.

9. Take it slow and easy

Once you get on road, take it slow and put on your hazard lights. Avoid the highway, especially if you’re not used to hauling heavy objects on your car’s roof. Highways are not your friend when you have a potential six foot flying, green missile on top of your vehicle.

Remember, roof cargo affects your vehicle’s center of gravity and emergency handling.

Photo Credit: AAA

Video: Sprinklers Save Lives – Building More Resilient Communities

The Co-operators

While more common in commercial buildings, fire sprinklers save lives, reduce injuries and minimize property damage at home, too.

Produced in partnership with the National Fire Protection Association, the video explains the truth behind some misconceptions around the use of sprinklers in residential homes. Sprinklers save lives and help keep firefighters safe, particularly in rural communities where response times are longer. We have been working with groups like the NFPA to raise awareness and educate Canadians about what a different sprinklers can make when they’re installed in new homes.

In 2012, we introduced a discount of up to 10 per cent for homes with fires sprinkler systems. According to the NFPA, sprinklers reduce fire-related deaths and injuries by 80 per cent, and reduce damage by 71 per cent. With fires killing 400 people in Canada each year and many more being seriously injured, sprinklers can make a huge difference. That’s why we have called upon governments to make them mandatory in all newly built residential homes in Canada.


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

There are no excuses for driving under the influence when there are a multitude of options available in every region of the province:

Read more

What Are My Duties as a Driver?

Last week we looked at what you should be entitled to expect as a driver on B.C.’s highways. It only seems fair that we should examine what your duties as a driver are this week. As before, if I miss or misstate any of them, you are welcome to e-mail and express your opinion.

It’s probably not something that you would consider first, but you have a general duty of care to all other road users. You must not collide with them or do something that causes them to have a collision or otherwise put them in danger. Supplementing common law, the Motor Vehicle Act makes it an offence to drive without due care and attention or to drive without reasonable consideration for others.

If you are involved in a crash, whether as the driver, operator or person in charge of a vehicle, you must stop, render assistance and provide information about yourself, the owner of the vehicle and it’s licence and insurance particulars to anyone suffering a loss.

You must also provide this information to a witness if they request it.

Before you drive, you must be licenced for the operation of the vehicle you intend to use. It is also up to you to make sure that the vehicle has a valid licence, insurance and is mechanically fit. If required to, you must be able to demonstrate all of these things to the police.

If you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, physical or mental infirmity, fatigue or anything else that would prevent you from driving safely, you must not drive. If you become this way while driving, you are expected to stop until you can become safe again or turn the duty over to someone qualified to assume it.

If your health or driving skills deteriorate, you must take steps to compensate for or regain them. Minimum standards must be met throughout your driving career.

When you drive, you must obey all of the rules of the road. All the time. Not just when it is convenient for you to do so.

It is also your responsibility to know what these rules are. If you ever face the courts to be called to account for your actions as a driver excuses such as “I didn’t know” or “Someone should have told me” will not be accepted.

Responsible drivers will choose to do something to maintain or improve their skills and knowledge over time. If you find it difficult to do this on your own, taking instruction from a driving school is probably your best choice.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t bring a bad attitude to the driver’s seat! Driving is not all about ME, it’s all about US. Sharing and co-operation are concepts that should be foremost in our minds when we are behind the wheel.

Oh, and if you are a cyclist or pedestrian, most of this applies to you too. ALL road users have a duty to share, co-operate and be safe.

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.

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