Parking Lots are Hazardous Places

backing-up-thumbnailI had a bit of a scare the other day when I tried to back out of a space in a busy parking lot. There was a large van beside me blocking my view so I scanned as completely as I could and began to let up on the clutch. No sooner had I started to roll than a woman paying more attention to her smart phone than where she was walking appeared from behind the van. We both slammed on the brakes and after looking at each other for a moment, she continued on her way.

I wondered just how dangerous parking lots were, so I asked about it and ICBC provided me with data for the five year period from 2011 to 2015. During that time there was an average of 2 deaths, 5,900 injuries and 120,000 property damage incidents each year. Parking lots do appear to be hazardous places!

Returning to my near miss with the pedestrian it occurs to me that most parking lots are designed only with vehicles in mind. Even then, the object seems to be to get as many vehicles into the lot as possible, crowding them together. The lane between lines of vehicles seem to be narrower as well.

There are usually no safe places to exclude the path of pedestrians from the path of vehicles.

Would it not be better to have a sidewalk with a row of parking on either side of it? You could park and walk safely between the rows of vehicles to and from the businesses. Vehicles would be prevented from crossing the level sidewalk area by curbs and the curbs would have gaps in them to allow you to move the shopping cart to your vehicle’s side doors.

I imagine that the biggest drawback to this design would be the difficulty with snow removal.

For my part, there were at least two things that I could have done to make this safer for the pedestrians. Backing into the parking spot would have afforded a better view when I tried to leave it and a gentle tap or two on the horn just before I moved would likely have called attention to me too.

The woman should not have been intent on her phone while walking along the edge of the corridor between vehicles. She could instead have been watching for illuminated backup lights that would tell her she needed to make eye contact with the driver before she walked behind the vehicle displaying them.

What really scares me is the possibility that the pedestrian could be a child that was a bit ahead of their parent. Since I don’t have a backup camera, it’s possible that they would not be taller than the top of my tailgate and I could drive over them without knowing anything was wrong until I felt the bump. That’s far too late.

From now on, I’m taking my own advice. If I can’t pull through the spaces to be nose out, I will be backing into my parking spot. There is a much smaller chance of colliding with something backing in than there will be when backing out.

The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors: Bill 59 The Putting Consumers First Act

The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors: Bill 59 The Putting Consumers First Act

OAHI ready to work with MGCS on Putting Consumers First Act

Mississauga, ON, Nov. 7, 2016 – The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors is looking forward to working with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services on its Putting Consumers First Act.

On Nov. 3 The Hon. Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS), along with MPPs Hang Dong, and Yvan Baker announced the province’s intention of continuing with Home Inspector Licensing under Bill 59, the Putting Consumers First Act. OAHI’s president Murray Parish attended the Nov. 3 announcement.

OAHI will continue to promote the high level of education and professional standards as it has since 1994, as it waits for the Provincial government to establish ‘minimum’ standards for Home Inspector Licensing. Bill 59’s first reading was carried Nov. 3; second reading is scheduled for Nov. 14.

“Homebuyers are welcome to visit to see the extensive, mandatory and ongoing training OAHI member inspectors must pursue to maintain their standing in the association. OAHI will also continue to advocate for well-educated, professional home inspectors in Ontario,” says Murray Parish, RHI and president of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.

“We reiterate that OAHI supports the establishment of common competency requirements for home inspectors to operate in Ontario. Licensing offers a reasonable way of permitting an individual to begin offering home inspection services to the public with the assurance of that basic competency being in place. However, it is a permit, not a designation earned through advanced training and experience. We hope to have a positive and pragmatic discussion of OAHI’s ongoing role in helping to regulate home inspection professionals in Ontario,” adds Parish.

 About OAHI

Through education and advocacy, the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors cultivates a thriving home inspection industry based on the highest standards of professional development and ethical standards. In doing so, OAHI cultivates the ‘gold standard’ for home inspectors in Ontario. OAHI is the only provincially recognized body of home inspectors by The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994 (Bill PR158). OAHI is a not-for-profit association, and the largest home inspection association in Ontario.




Murray Parish, RHI


Ontario Association of Home Inspectors



Making Way for Emergency Vehicles


A reader was travelling in a major municipality recently and was stopped in a large collection of vehicles waiting for a red light at the intersection of two multiple lane highways. Emergency vehicles using lights and sirens approached from the rear and tried to get through the traffic and the intersection. There was significant difficulty and the reader was curious how far forward vehicles could move into the cross flow of traffic to assist in clearing a path.

It’s a good question as I’m sure that we all want to do what we can to accommodate emergency services when someone is in need. However, does it mean that we should try to force our way through the red light and risk causing a collision to do so?

The obvious is to state that there is no exemption from having to remain stopped at the intersection when we are facing a red light.

For the average driver in a car or light truck, this should not present much difficulty if good driving practices have been followed. (Learn to Drive Smart, page 93)

Drivers in the front rank will have stopped behind the marked stop line. Generally this will leave at least a vehicle length of open space in front of them to move into without encountering cross traffic. Each subsequent vehicle, having stopped so that the driver can see pavement between the front of their hood and the back tires of the vehicle in front of them now have room to move to the side as well.

In the case of a divided street, the left lane goes left and the right lane goes right. Otherwise, everyone moves to the right. In either case, using your signal lights will tell everyone else that you have recognized the situation and warn them of what you intend to do.

Once the movement is complete, there is usually enough room for the emergency vehicles to go up the middle or use the left lane.

The most likely difficulty would occur when a long commercial vehicle is part of the group. They need more space to move into than a car does and might not be able to move enough to clear the way.

In this case we might have to do more than just move to the side. It might mean turning at the intersection instead of travelling straight through. Your inconvenience from having to do this may be miniscule compared to the need to get emergency services to the scene. This may be accomplished when the traffic lights are red before cross traffic recognizes the situation and stops.

All things considered, one solution to the issue will be waiting for the lights to change so that everyone can proceed safely. Emergency responses do not always turn out to involve a life threatening situation so waiting may be better than risking a crash.

If you decide that as a last resort, the only thing that you can do is disobey traffic rules and move into cross traffic you are taking a huge risk. If a collision were to occur, the courts and your insurance company will have to apply the laws as they stand to decide liability. Sympathy for your attempt to do the best in a bad situation will be noted but won’t affect the decision.

Reference Link:

Keep kids safe this Halloween, ICBC urges

Keep kids safe this Halloween, ICBC urges

With more children expected to be on neighbourhood streets throughout B.C. this weekend attending parties and trick-or-treating on Monday, ICBC is asking drivers to slow down, be extra careful and expect the unexpected, especially on residential roads.

On Halloween, an average of 330 people are injured in 920 crashes across the province.*

Tips for drivers:

  • Don’t get spooked: Children may be difficult to see while trick-or-treating. They may be walking in unexpected places like driveways, alleys and parking lots. Others may try to cross in the middle of the street. Make sure there are no small children behind your vehicle by walking around it before getting in. Drive slowly and with extra caution, particularly in residential areas.

  • Be frightened by your phone: Distracted driving is one of the main causes of crashes with pedestrians. With so many children on the road on Halloween night, stay alert and remember to leave the phone alone so that you can focus on driving.

  • Plan for a safe ride home: If your Halloween celebrations involve alcohol, make a plan before you head out. Arrange for a designated driver or use other options to get home safely – call a taxi, take transit or call a sober friend.

Tips for trick-or-treaters:

  • Be bright, be seen: Halloween is about putting on spooky outfits – but that often involves dark colours. A good solution is to add reflective tape to the outfit or even to children’s shoes or bags to help them stand out against the dark road.

  • The best ghouls see everything: If kids are wearing masks as part of their Halloween costume, make sure they don’t hinder your child’s ability to see what’s going on around them. Put the mask over your own face to check the visibility and make any necessary adjustments.

  • Gone haunting: If your kids are heading out for some trick-or-treating fun without you, help them plan a safe route ahead of time. Consider a route that takes them through a quiet residential area away from busy main roads and parking lots. Remind them to cross streets at designated crossing points.

  • The best ghouls hear everything too: As adults, we know that hearing is just as important as seeing when it comes to safety around roads. Remind your children not to use their cellphone or listen to their iPod.

  • Safety in numbers: If you’re taking your children trick-or-treating, walk in groups to help drivers and others see you and your children. Make sure you have an appropriate number of adults to accompany the children.

Regional statistics*:

  • On average, 240 people are injured in 620 crashes on Halloween in the Lower Mainland.

  • On average, 33 people are injured in 130 crashes on Halloween on Vancouver Island.

  • On average, 40 people are injured in 110 crashes on Halloween in the Southern Interior.

  • On average, 16 people are injured in 65 crashes on Halloween in the North Central region.

* Crashes and injuries are from ICBC data based on a five year average (2011 to 2015) on Halloween, the 24-hour period on October 31st of each year.

Media contact

Sam Corea

MADD Canada: Don’t Make The Frightful Decision to Drive Impaired This Halloween

OAKVILLE, ON–(Marketwired – October 27, 2016) – MADD Canada and Allstate Insurance Company of Canada are asking revellers to make road safety a priority this Halloween and plan ahead for a sober ride home if they’re going to be drinking.

“Let’s leave the scary scenes at the Halloween parties and keep our roads safe from impaired driving,” said MADD Canada National President Patricia Hynes-Coates.

This Halloween,

  • don’t drive impaired — call a cab, take public transit, arrange a designated driver or plan to stay overnight;
  • don’t ride with drivers who are impaired;
  • if you see a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911 and report it to police.

“No one ever thinks an impaired driving crash will happen to them. But it does happen to thousands of people every year,” said Ms. Hynes-Coates, whose stepson Nicholas Coates was killed by an impaired driver in 2013. “These drivers never imagine they’ll cause a crash that injures or kills someone, but that is the tragic outcome for far too many families.”

Families like the O’Dell’s, who were devastated by one person’s decision to drive after drinking. Just days before Halloween in 2006, Laura and Greg O’Dell were taking their children, 12-year-old Kali and 9-year-old Jeremy to see their grandparents. The kids wanted to show off their Halloween costumes. The family’s car was hit head on by an impaired driver. Greg and Laura were killed. Kali and Jeremy were seriously injured.

In that moment, Kali’s and Jeremy’s lives changed forever. They are missing a lifetime of moments that should be shared with their parents.

“I’ll never have my father walk me down the aisle when I get married. I won’t have my mother there to hold my hand when I have my first child,” said Kali, now 22 years old.

Kali’s family, and the thousands of others who have been devastated by impaired driving, are the reason MADD Canada and its long-time sponsor, Allstate Canada, reach out to Canadians during holidays, special occasions and all year round — to remind people that impaired driving is simply not worth the risk.

“The decision to drive impaired, and the tragic consequences that can result from it, are things you can never take back,” said Ryan Michel, Allstate Canada President and CEO. “If you’re celebrating Halloween this weekend, or if you’re on the roads on Monday when the trick-or-treaters are out, please make safety a priority and leave the driving to someone sober.”

Anyone who needs a safe ride home from a Halloween party can check out MADD Canada sponsor THE RIDE Taxi and Transit app for fast and easy transportation options. Simply download THE RIDE app on your smartphone to book nearby cabs and plan your best transit route anywhere in Canada. And you can always dial #TAXI (#8294) on any cell phone to connect to the first available taxi company or a preferred one. For more information, visit and

About MADD Canada
MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. To learn more,

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of the country’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products, serving Canadians since 1953. The company strives to keep its customers in “Good Hands®” as well as its employees, and has been listed four years in a row on the Best Employers in Canada list. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as MADD Canada, United Way and Junior Achievement. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit

For more information, contact:
Patricia Hynes Coates
National President

Anna Weigt-Bienzle
Senior Communications Specialist
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada

Halloween Is No. 1 Day for Free Candy – and Property Crime

Alex Glenn is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

Make-believe monsters, witches and goblins vie for our attention each Halloween, but Fright Night is also the ideal time for real wrongdoers to wreak havoc undetected.


On average, crime-related insurance claims spike by 24% on Halloween, more than on any other day of the year, according to 2016 data from Travelers Insurance. This includes particularly sharp increases in theft, both inside and outside the home, and vandalism.

Property crime at a glance

Burglaries skyrocket

Among property crimes, home burglaries experience the largest increase on Halloween, says Angi Orbann, second vice president of personal insurance at Travelers. Insurance claims due to theft inside the home go up by a whopping 60%.

It’s tempting to assume no one would dare break in when there are so many witnesses walking the neighborhood, Orbann says. As a result, people often drop their guards just when they should be most vigilant.

Thieves don’t just strike at home

Most folks hit the streets in search of candy on Halloween, but prowling thieves have their eyes on more valuable goodies, such as a smartphone left in your car. Insurance claims for theft away from home spike by 21% on Halloween, proving your house isn’t the only hot spot for opportunistic criminals.

Property damage also a concern

All Hallows’ Eve is known for pranks, and the numbers suggest the reputation is well-earned. Claims due to vandalism and malicious mischief rise by 19% on Halloween. This is a fairly broad category of crime, Orbann says, ranging from relatively innocent home-egging to more purposely destructive acts, such as smashing car windows.  

How to secure your home and belongings

Turn lights on if you leave the house

People often turn out all their lights to notify trick-or-treaters that they’re not at home, Orbann says. Unfortunately, a dark house is also a green light for prospective burglars and vandals.

It might confuse candy-expectant kids, but Orbann recommends leaving some lights on when you’re away from home and even switching on the the TV. Also consider motion-detecting lights for your yard.

Keep your plans off social media

Leaving the house dark isn’t the only way you might accidentally attract burglars. Be mindful of other hints that your house is empty — such as announcing your evening plans on Facebook.

Make your car look empty

Most Halloween thefts that occur away from home involve belongings in a car, Orbann says. Avoid leaving electronic devices, wallets, sunglasses and other valuable items sitting on the seat or dashboard. She also recommends tucking away car accessories such as USB cords.

If you often leave your car in the driveway or on the street but own a garage, Halloween is a good time to park in it.

Review your insurance

Even if you can’t avoid Halloween property crime, you can make sure your home insurance will help you recover from it.

“We really encourage people to take a home inventory,” Orbann says. Having a ready list of all your belongings and what they’re worth can speed up the claims process, she adds.

If you’re turning your home into a haunted house and charging admission, you should also verify your coverage with your insurer. That might be considered a business activity, Orbann says, meaning your homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover property crimes that occur during the event.

And keep in mind that your home insurance doesn’t pay for vandalism to your car. Make sure you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, or the cost to replace the egg-eaten paint on your bumper might come out of your own pocket.

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