ICBC & BC SPCA urge pet guardians to Drive Smart by keeping pets safe on summer road trips

According to a recent survey of ICBC’s customers*, 40 per cent of pet guardians plan to bring their pet on a road trip this summer. With only half of guardians saying they own a vehicle restraint or safety device for their pet, ICBC and the BC SPCA are urging drivers to drive smart and consider the safety of their pets when riding in a vehicle.

Of all pet guardians surveyed, only half (52 per cent) own a safety device, with cat guardians (85 per cent) more likely to own one over dog guardians (45 per cent). Cat guardians were also more likely to be consistent with its use – 87 per cent said they ‘always’ use a restraint versus dog guardians at 55 per cent. The reasons given for those that never or rarely used a restraint include that their pet is calm, that it’s safe for a pet to be loose, and that the trip is short.

ICBC and the BC SPCA recommend always using some form of safety restraint whenever travelling with a pet, even for mild-mannered pets or when running a quick errand around town. In the event of a crash, a loose animal can fly forward in your vehicle, causing further injury to themselves and to others in the vehicle. Pet harnesses/safety belts and hard-shell crates secured down are sound options.

To keep this member of the family safest, pets should never sit in the front seat, but be secured in the back seat or cargo area of an SUV or van. Most pet guardians reported that their pet rode in the back seat (50 per cent), while 18 per cent said their pet rode in the front seat, and 16 per cent rode in the cargo area.

Guardians should also take steps to prevent their pet from becoming a distraction to drivers. Distraction is the second-leading contributing cause of fatal crashes in B.C., killing 78 people a year. While three-quarters of respondents agreed that playing with a pet while driving is distracting, some pet guardians admitted to the following actions while driving:

  • Used arms to restrain pet’s movements when putting on the brakes, 14 per cent

  • Used arms to keep pet from climbing from the back seat to the front seat, 13 per cent

  • Reached into the back seat to interact with pet, 12 per cent

  • Allowed pet to sit on their lap, or held pet while driving, five per cent

  • Gave food to pet while driving, five per cent

  • Played with pet, 2 per cent

  • Taken a photo of pet, 1 per cent

Quotes:

“Part of driving smart is making sure everyone in the vehicle – including pets, are secured before leaving home,” said Lindsay Matthews, interim vice president responsible for road safety. “In the event of a crash, this prevents passengers from incurring further injury, while keeping the pet safe, too.”

“Many drivers consider a pet as part of their family,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “And as with any loved one that rides in your vehicle, we hope drivers will take steps to keep their dog or cat seated, secure and safe during every drive.”

One customer wrote, “A far greater concern I have relates to the distraction pets cause to the driver and thus danger to pedestrians and other members of the motoring public. I have witnessed persons driving, holding the dog or cat between themselves and the steering wheel. This does not provide any safety to the animal and certainly impedes the driver’s ability to adequately react.”

Drive Smart tips for pet guardians:

Tip #1: Use a safety device to protect your pet. Loose animals in the event of crash can become a projectile, injuring themselves and others in the vehicle. Animals can also pose a safety risk for first responders, as a disoriented and injured animal may try to attack an attendant or even cause another crash by running into traffic.

Tip #2: Let your dog be the backseat driver. Pets are safest when secured in the back seat or cargo area. For the same reason ICBC discourages children under 12 from sitting in the front seat of vehicle, the same safety risks of a deployed air bag can have devastating consequences for animals as well.

Tip #3: Prevent pet distraction by packing the essentials. Keep pets content by bringing food, water, dishes, bedding and toys. For road trips, it’s best to stock your vehicle with a pet first-aid kit. And plan for a pit stop every few hours – it’s good for drivers and pets alike to stretch and get fresh air.

Tip #4: Keep pets inside the vehicle while driving. While it’s tempting to let your dog hang his head out the window for the breeze, this can lead to eye injuries due to weather, heavy wind, fly debris or objects coming close to your vehicle. Disable your power windows to prevent your dog from accidentally opening a window, causing it to escape or have the window close on its neck.

Tip #5: Do not drive with your pet on your lap. This can prevent you from having full control of your vehicle. Your pet could also be seriously injured or killed by a deployed airbag in the event of a crash. Drivers can be ticketed for driving with ‘without due care and attention’, with a fine of $368 and six penalty points which comes with a fine of $300.

Tip #6: Secure your pet if travelling in the back of a pick-up truck. It is illegal and dangerous to travel with an unsecured pet in the exterior of a truck. If you must transport your pet in the back of a truck, the safest method is in a secured crate in the centre of your truck box. Learn more on the BC SPCA’s website.

Tip #7: If you’re not in the car, your dog shouldn’t be either. Vehicles can quickly heat up in summer weather, and can endanger your pet’s health. Even a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked open can get hot enough to cause heatstroke or death of an animal.

Visit the BC SPCA’s website or ICBC’s pet travel page for more safety tips.

*ICBC Customer Advisory Panel survey, taken June 2018, 1,557 total participants, 45 per cent identified as pet owners.

Thoughts on the Decision to Stop Driving

Senior DriverWe have built our world around the convenience of the motor vehicle. Without one, our focus suddenly becomes much more narrow. Are you prepared to cope with the decision to stop driving when the time comes?

I ask this question after watching a significant change for part of my family. My in-laws decided that the family home of 52 years was too much for them and made the move to a seniors complex. My father-in-law suggested that they had been considering this for about 2 years but once the decision had been made the transition occurred too quickly.

They found a new seniors complex that suited them and had space available. Once their home was listed for sale, it sold almost immediately and the move to the complex was complete 30 days later.

Needless to say, they both found the change very stressful. A lifetime of possessions suddenly had to be divided into 3 categories: keep, redistribute or throw away and dealt with quickly. A new home had to be occupied and adjusted to as well.

My mother-in-law had the most difficulty and made the decision to stop driving on her own initiative. Fortunately, my father-in-law still drives and their facility provides transport to a nearby shopping center once a week.

Following the advice of her children, she chose to retain her driver’s licence rather than surrendering it as she had first intended.

I really hope that this works out well for them once they get over the shock.

Life often does not leave you with choices and planning is much better than procrastination.

A driver examiner told me in conversation once that it was fairly common for older men who failed a retest to hop in the car and drive home after surrendering their licence. Thank goodness they made it there safely as they would not be covered by insurance if they caused a crash on that trip.

Younger people are not exempt either. I stopped a middle aged woman one morning as her driving made her appear to be an alcohol impaired driver. Conversation quickly established that she was sober but suffered from physical health issues.

I convinced her to park the car and let me drive her back home as no one she knew was available to help her. I felt very awkward in the situation and as we pulled into her driveway I complimented her on her home as a way of making conversation. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a pretty nice prison, isn’t it?”

Somewhere between capable and incapable lies an area where the driver still performs adequately in some circumstances. Applying restrictions to their driver’s licence permits some mobility while reducing the chance of causing a crash. Graduated De-Licensing if you will.

This is where ICBC operates in conjunction with health professionals, police, family and friends. However, for it to be successful, ICBC must know of the driver’s difficulties either through reports or periodic medical examinations.

HealthLinkBC provides advice to help make the decision as well.

According to the Office of the Seniors Advocate of BC more work needs to be done in support of seniors mobility. The advocate has recommended a new program called “Community Drives” that would be administered under the existing home support program.

I suspect that no one really wants to grow old and stop driving much less spend the time planning for it. However, a little time spent in advance can make that transition much less stressful.

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.

#RoadSafety: Little Things Can Make Big Differences

ExclamationI’ve been riding as a passenger in heavy traffic this past week and have had time to watch and think about what is going on around me. There are many small things that a driver should do out of habit to minimize their chances of being involved in a collision.

In no particular order of importance, here are my suggestions.

Signal! The bulbs are good for more than 3 or 4 blinks too. Nothing tells others what you would like to do better than a well used signal light lever. There are polite drivers out there who will actually see your signal and help you accomplish what you want to do.

When you stop in traffic, you should see pavement between the front edge of your hood and the bottoms of the back tires of the vehicle in front of you. If you don’t, you are too close.

The extra space may prevent you from being pushed into the vehicle in front of you if your vehicle is hit from behind. It also gives you room to move if an emergency vehicle approaches.

Stop before the sidewalk when you are entering a street, not on top of it. Pedestrians really appreciate your consideration.

Maintain an appropriate following distance for the conditions. When you do this, you control your own safety margin and to some extent that of the driver behind you. They will have more time to realize that something is happening and can then avoid colliding with you.

Leave yourself an out, especially around heavy commercial vehicles. Having a space to move into on your left or right if something happens may mean avoiding a crash.

Use some lane discipline. You are entitled to one lane and have to stay between the lines of that lane.

If you don’t know where you are going, stop and figure it out. Better still, plan before you leave. If you don’t have GPS in your vehicle, cell phone or tablet, the internet is full of useful resources.

Don’t commit random acts of driving by ignoring traffic controls when you decide you’ve chosen incorrectly.

Remember that there are drivers behind you that will become impatient and try to pass by. Pull over, stop, let them by and then continue at reduced speed as you try to locate the address you are trying to find.

Scan around and well ahead of your vehicle. Preparation is preferrable to surprise.

Early detection of obstructions ahead allow you to plan to avoid them rather than react in a place where you may not have a choice.

Anticipate the traffic lights. Braking lightly and coasting to a stop saves wear and tear on your vehicle. Aside from being safer, it also saves you money on maintenance and fuel.

Screaming up to the red light and braking heavily at the last second invites the driver behind you to join you in a collision, especially if they are not paying attention or are momentarily focused elsewhere.

If another driver insists on infringing on your right of way, let them have it. It’s better to maintain as much control of the situation as you are able to rather than insist on being part of the incident.

None of these things are difficult to do and are simple habits to develop. The choice to be safe is always yours.

RoadSafety: Canadian kindness ends at street level in Toronto

In Toronto, the battle for space on the street amongst pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and drivers can be heated. Because, let’s face it: we Canadians may be known for our polite ways, but that ends at street level in Toronto. A lack of empathy, compounded by low awareness of the rules of the road, seems to be at the core of the issue.

Passion for space on the streets is justified, of course: in 2016, for example, 171 pedestrians and 42 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in a collision with a motor vehicle and 145 drivers were killed or seriously injured due to aggressive and distracted driving1. While there is considerable effort underway towards improving road safety, such as Toronto’sambitious Vision Zero road safety plan, the numbers say we all need to do more.

That’s why RSA Canada is calling for a truce.

On June 2, RSA Canada, one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, will be officially launching TruceTO, an initiative which aims to bring harmony to the debate around street safety in Toronto. The goal behind TruceTO is to make Toronto one of the first cities in North America to officially call a truce between pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and drivers.

A recent survey commissioned by RSA Canada2, found:

  • 50 per cent of Toronto pedestrians and drivers admit they don’t always know when cyclists have the right of way
  • 33 per cent of cyclists report seeing an unfamiliar road sign recently
  • More than 75 per cent of street users across the board agreed that road rage is a serious issue in Toronto

As such, education is also a key focus of this initiative. The central hub at www.truceto.com will house a variety of informative and engaging content through the year, in infographic, podcast and video format.

“The success of any street safety program is determined by a reduction in injuries and fatalities, through influencing policy change and road infrastructure,” said Donna Ince, Senior Vice President for Personal Insurance at RSA Canada. “However, it is important in the short-term to turn the heat down in the ongoing debate among the city’s road users. That is why we are taking on the unique role as a mediator to unite Torontonians based on their shared desire for – and right to – safer streets.”

The survey also revealed that more than 70 per cent of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers agree that they collectively play a role to improve safety on our street. By calling a truce between all road users, RSA wants to take the antagonistic discussion off the streets and give Canadians an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on better sharing the road.

“As providers of auto insurance, RSA has a vested interest in road safety as a whole,” added Ince. “That said, in order to be productive and create real change, the conversation around street use needs to shift away from victim-blaming and towards a multi-lateral, action-oriented discussion.”

RSA Canada invites all Torontonians to the TruceTO launch event scheduled for June 2 at 464 King Street West (King Street West and Spadina Avenue) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Those who can’t make it to the event are still welcome to take the pledge to be a better road sharer at www.truceto.com and by using #TruceTO on social posts. Attendees will also have the chance to participate in a driving simulation provided by DriveWise, a leading Canadian driving school, where they can quite literally, put themselves in the driver’s seat to better understand and better navigate our changing streets – bike lanes, construction zones and pedestrian crossings, to name a few. TruceTO aligns with RSA’s corporate purpose of Making Life Better Together and supports its Corporate Responsibility Safe, Secure World pillar, which focuses on safeguarding our customers from everyday risks. To learn more about RSA Canada’s corporate social responsibility, visit https://www.rsagroup.ca/about-us/corporate-responsibility/our-corporate-responsibility-journey.

About RSA:

With a 300-year heritage, RSA is a multinational quoted insurance group. Focusing on general insurance, RSA’s core markets are the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada, with the capability to write insurance business across the globe.  RSA’s core businesses have approximately 13,500 employees with net written premiums of £6.3bn in 2016.

About RSA Canada:

The RSA Canada group of companies includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Unifund Assurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company and RSA Travel Insurance Inc. (collectively, “RSA Canada”) and is part of a group of companies headed by RSA Insurance Group Plc. RSA Canada employs more than 3,000 people across Canada and is one of the oldest insurance companies in the country with roots dating back to 1833.

©2016 Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. All rights reserved. RSA, RSA & Design and related words and logos are trademarks and the property of RSA Insurance Group plc, licensed for use by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. RSA is a trade name of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.

Toronto Police Service Public Service Data Portal

According to a survey of 1,560 Canadians conducted between December 15 and 22, 2017 by Maru/Matchbox, with a margin of error of +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20

SOURCE RSA Canada

These are Ontario’s Worst Roads for 2018

These are Ontario’s Worst Roads for 2018

By Kelly Roche  Source: inbrampton
The votes are in, and Ontario’s Worst Road for 2018 isn’t too far from home.

What Happens When A Cyclist Gets a Traffic Ticket?

Source: kanetix.ca

June is Bike Month in Ontario, and as more people put down their car keys and take to their bicycles, some cyclists may be surprised to learn that they can be ticketed for traffic offences, just like drivers, and face the same fines.

Cycling season is here, and according to the province, around 1.2 million adults in Ontario ride a bicycle daily during the spring, summer and fall, and 2.8 million people ride a bike at least once a week. Cycling is increasingly popular, and as more people choose to cycle, some may be surprised to learn that they can also earn a traffic ticket for not following the rules of the road; much in the same way they could if they were driving a car.

A bicycle is a vehicle

Cyclists do not need to register or plate their bicycle, and they don’t have to have a driver’s licence or auto insurance. However, under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, a bicycle is a vehicle just like a car, truck or motorcycle. As a result, riders must heed the same rules of the road—as well as some laws that are specific to bikes—or risk getting pulled over and fined.

What types of tickets can a cyclist get?

In general, any ticket a driver can get under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, a cyclist can get too. A cyclist can be ticketed for failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, going the wrong way on a one-way street, failing to signal, failing to stop for a school bus, and even careless, to name just a few examples. The fines are essentially the same as well: whether on a bike or in a car, you’ll have to pay the set fine, plus the victim fine surcharge and court costs too. For example, an $85 fine for disobeying a stop sign, will actually cost you around $110 in the end.

There are also traffic tickets that are specific to cyclists. For example, you can get a ticket for:

  • Not outfitting your bicycle with proper lighting: Cyclists must have proper lights, reflective materials and reflectors on their bicycles and failing to have these could result in a ticket with a set fine of $85.
  • Riding a bicycle that does not have a working bell: All bicycles must be equipped with a working bell or horn so you can alert other riders, drivers and pedestrians on your presence, if needed. The set fine for this ticket is $85.
  • Riding double: Riding double, on a bicycle built for one, could also net you a ticket for $85.

Many municipalities also have their own specific bylaws that, if not followed, could lead to a ticket for riders. Toronto, for example, has a bylaw in place that stipulates, “no person age 14 and older may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk”. The fine for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is $60.

Pulled over while cycling, now what?

Unlike driving, you’re not required to carry identification when cycling. But, that doesn’t mean you can get out of a ticket if you happen to get pulled over. If you are not carrying any identification, you are required to provide the officer with your correct name and address. Being evasive or lying about who you are, could earn you another ticket at best (for failing to identify yourself), or in the worst-case scenario, arrest.

Do bike infractions come with demerit points?

They’re not supposed to, because even though a bicycle is a vehicle, it is not a motor vehicle; an important distinction when it comes to demerit points. Any ticket you get while cycling should not result in demerit points added to your driver’s licence.

Of course, mistakes happen, as one Toronto-area cyclist learned last year. After paying his ticket for running a red light on his bike, months later he learned that three demerit points were added to his driving record in error. If you should get a ticket while cycling, review it before leaving to make sure it is listed as a cycling infraction and not a motor vehicle infraction. Otherwise, you may have to fight the ticket in court.

Do cycling infractions affect your auto insurance?

Again, no, they shouldn’t. If the ticket is recorded as a cycling infraction, any ticket you get while cycling should not affect your auto insurance coverage.

“Bicycle infractions are not applied to the driving record,” confirms Ministry of Transportation (Ontario) spokesman Bob Nichols in an email exchange with Kanetix.ca. “If the officer states on the ticket that a bicycle was used, the convicting court does not send the information to the Ministry of Transportation.”

Since the ticket wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be on your driving record, it would not affect your premiums.

Avoid getting a ticket, and ride—and drive—safely.

Road safety is enhanced, when everyone—cyclists, drivers and pedestrians—are predictable, and by following the rules of the road we can all get to where we want to go, safely and ticket-free.

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