#DoNotRiskIt – Throughout November, police will be on the lookout for suspended drivers and unregistered vehicles.

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I Want My Car Simple Again

Today’s high tech cars have centre console mounted displays that allow anyone (including the driver) to play around with while in motion; should be against the law. Some cars even need to have the driver touch a screen to change the radio volume or station; a dangerous practice. Older car radios you can FEEL the knobs without taking your eyes off the road. I think vehicles are going the wrong direction these days with their gadgetry.

This opinion was delivered to the DriveSmartBC Inbox last week along with a wish that I would write about it so that other drivers might learn the risks. Even though in car systems are legal, they do present a significant risk for distracted driving. Manufacturers are quite happy to provide the things that we want in our vehicles even when they have not evaluated risk, or worse yet, know of the risk but choose to provide them anyway.

Probably the worst outcome from distracted driving that I was called on to investigate was a fatality where a driver was parked on the side of the highway, well to the right of the single solid white line. I’m guessing that he had stopped to have a bite to eat and enjoy the view from what I discovered inside the passenger compartment. An passing vehicle’s front seat passenger had been having difficulty inserting a CD into the stereo, so the driver intervened to help. The vehicle drifted to the right, which was the direction the driver was looking in, and collided with the parked car.

The driver in the parked car did not survive the collision.

Inserting a CD into a slot in the dash is not a complicated task, but as the e-mail writer observes, using a touch screen or finding the controls on some modern vehicles can tie up your attention for a significant period of time. At 120 km/h on our freeways, one second translates into just over 33 meters of travel. A lot can happen in a couple of seconds.

As part of its Center for Driving Safety and Technology, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned the University of Utah to carry out research to address three important questions:

  1. Which task is the most demanding to complete while driving: calling/dialing, sending a text message, tuning the radio or programming navigation?
  2. What level of demand is associated with completing these tasks using voice commands, touchscreens or other interactive technologies (e.g., buttons, rotary dial, writing pad)?
  3. How does demand from these interactions vary across the infotainment systems found in different vehicle makes and models?

The findings are probably not a surprise for you:

  1. Overall, navigation was found to be the most demanding task.
  2. All tasks were associated with higher levels of cognitive demand.
  3. Of 30 vehicles tested 23 vehicles generated high or very high levels of overall demand on drivers. None of them yielded low overall demand.

The most important piece of information to take away from this is that motorists should remember that just because technologies come installed in a vehicle does not mean automaker testing has proven they are safe to use while driving.


New Brunswick to impose new measures for drunk drivers starting November 1

FREDERICTON _ New Brunswick will seize drunk drivers’ cars for up to two months under a law that comes into force Nov. 1

Public Safety Minister Denis Landry says the new law will make the province one of the country’s toughest on impaired driving.

Anyone convicted of drunk driving will have their vehicle impounded for up to two months and have a mandatory ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle when they get their licence back.

The mechanism is similar to a breathalyzer and won’t allow a vehicle to start if the driver is over the limit for alcohol.

The changes also include longer suspensions for drivers with a blood alcohol level within the warning range of 0.05 and 0.08, and those suspensions will remain on their driving record.

Police officers will also have the discretion to suspend a driver for 24 hours if they have any concerns about his or her safety.

Danielle Cole of MADD Canada says the changes are welcome news that will help reduce the number of impaired drivers.

Cole, who survived a crash with a drunk driver in 2012, says impounding vehicles is a great move.

“Looking back at B.C. they imposed impoundment in 2010 and it reduced impaired driving crashes by 50 per cent. The same was done in Alberta and it reduced crashes by 43 per cent,” she said.

Erin Norwood of the Insurance Bureau of Canada says the changes send a strong message.

“If you drink and drive, you will face severe penalties. Your car may be seized, you may be arrested, charged and sent to jail. On top of that your insurance premiums may increase dramatically,” she said.

Norwood says that according to Statistics Canada, New Brunswick is one of only two provinces where the number of impaired drivers under the age of 20 has actually decreased in the last six years.

Chris O’Connell, New Brunswick’s registrar of motor vehicles, says about 1,000 people are convicted of alcohol-impaired driving in the province each year. He says that will mean about 1,000 ignition interlock devices will have to be put into use.

The cost of the interlock devices about $95 per month  will have to be paid by the drivers using them.

Landry also says he’s confident the province and police will be ready to deal with drivers who may be under the influence of marijuana.

The federal government plans to make recreational cannabis legal by July of next year, and Landry says there’s a lot of discussion underway across the country to ensure police have the regulations and equipment they need.


Challenging odds for young drivers: 1 in 6 could get into a crash and have a 25% risk of injury

Every month, at least two youth die in car crashes in B.C. and 20 youth are injured daily. Distracted driving is the main contributing factor for teen drivers in crashes.

In an age where digital communication is the standard and instant responses are expected, the use of mobile devices while driving is a growing problem among all drivers, including teens.

In recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week in Canada (October 15 to 21), ICBC is highlighting what teens, their family and their friends can do to help encourage smarter choices behind the wheel.

What is distracted driving?

While it rightly gets the most attention, distracted driving is more than just texting while driving; it’s any kind of activity that takes a driver’s focus away from the road. Eating, talking to a friend, changing a playlist, watching a video, checking your newsfeed and putting on makeup while driving are all examples of distracted driving.

Tips for teens

  • Use tech wisely: Use the ‘Do Not Disturb while driving’ feature on your iPhone or install a distracted driving app to help you resist temptation – your phone can send auto-replies to explain why you’re not responding.

  • Remember the rules: If you’re in the graduated licensing program, it’s illegal to use electronic devices while driving, even hands-free. Your first offence alone will cost you $543.

  • Keep music low enough to hear everything else: Sounds from the road can affect the decisions you make as a driver. Turn down the volume, and remove earbuds so that you’re able to hear the siren of an ambulance or the screech of a car.

Tips for parents

  • Set the standard: Even though it might seem like they’re not paying any attention to you these days, they certainly are. Teens are greatly influenced by your attitude toward texting while driving and the habits that you employ when you’re behind the wheel.

  • Put away all phones: When taking your teen out to practice driving, insist that all phones be placed in the glovebox before starting the vehicle. Be sure to place yours in the glovebox as well to ensure you’re both focused on the road ahead.

Tips for friends

  • Chill in the car: Let your friend focus on driving by being a good passenger. Save the wild dance moves, punching your buddy in the backseat, or getting in a really heated conversation for when you arrive at your destination.

  • Speak up: If your friend is texting while driving, say something. They’re not only being careless, but also placing both of your lives at risk. Offer to manage their texts while driving.

Other factors

Thankfully, youth injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes are declining, in part due to the success of ICBC’s graduated licensing program. But crashes still remain the leading cause of preventable death for young adults in B.C. Other factors such as driver inexperience, carelessness, late-night driving, overestimation of ability, thrill-seeking and risk-taking also play a role in the high rate of youth crashes.

For more tips on how to keep kids safe on the road, or to learn more about the graduated licensing program, visit icbc.com.

For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week, visit Parachute Canada parachutecanada.org.

Additional statistics:

  • One in six young drivers could get in a crash. There were 230,000 active licences and 35,000 crashes involving youth in 2015. Of those involved in a crash, 25 per cent are at risk of injury or death, with 8,200 injuries and 28 reported fatalities of that year.

  • Young drivers represent 7 per cent of B.C.’s driving population. In 2015, there were 230,000 active driver licences for drivers aged 16 to 21. The total population of all active licences was 3,360,000.

  • Over 11 per cent of all crashes that occurred in 2015 involved a young person, aged 16 to 21.

  • Number of youth killed or injured in crashes from 2011 – 2015:

    • All of B.C.: 148 fatalities, 36,600 injuries

      • Lower Mainland: 57 fatalities, 24,700 injuries

      • Vancouver Island region: 16 fatalities, 4,680 injuries

      • Southern Interior region: 43 fatalities, 5,200 injuries

      • North Central region: 32 fatalities, 1,940 injuries

  • Distracted driving is the top contributing factor (34 percent, 4,900 crashes) followed by speed (17 percent, 2,500 crashes) and impaired driving (7 per cent, 940 crashes) in casualty crashes involving youth.

Note: ICBC data is used for injury counts from 2011 to 2015. Police data is used for fatalities and casualty crashes from 2011 to 2015. Youth is defined as aged 16 to 21. A casualty crash is a crash which results in injury or death. 

Here’ how to avoid the top 3 winter driving problems we saw last year

We all know that BC doesn’t usually get a lot of snow—until last winter that is— when many of us were caught off guard with even heavier snowfalls, icier roads and colder temperatures—all lasting for a longer winter season. Remember the havoc it caused? Ugh! (Shudder).

When it came to driving, BCAA roadside assistance techs were out there, 24/7, helping our Members and stranded motorists. The top three problems we saw? Cars unprepared and with the wrong tires, driving too fast for the conditions, or inexperienced.

This year, we want to help you avoid getting caught off guard. Here are tips to help you stay safe.

1. Prepare your car—and do it ahead of time

Tires. Each winter, particularly last year, we see cars sliding off the road or getting stuck in snow or icy areas. Tires with the mountain peak and snowflake or M+S (mud and snow) symbols meet BC’s winter tire laws. Equip your car with proper tires (all four matching) to ensure you have enough traction for snow and ice. Starting October 1, BC’s winter tire rules have kicked in and winter tires are required on many highways throughout the province. Look for this sign, which tells you if you’re on one of the designated highways.

winter driving prep image

Pro check-up. We saw a rise in calls from motorists, stranded due to a dead battery. Cold conditions can weaken a battery and cause it to fail. So take your car in for a winter check-up with an automotive professional, which includes checks on the battery, wipers and fluids, belts and hoses and oil.

BCAA’s Auto Service Centre offers a complete 42-point inspection with every service, winter tire changeovers and warranty-approved service by Red Seal Certified Technicians. Find a location and learn what extras BCAA Members get!

Winter driving emergency items: Windshield scraper, snow brush, shovel, spare container of winter-grade washer fluid, set of warm clothes, extra winter boots, gloves, blanket, bottled water and energy bars, first-aid kit and anti-freeze lock lubricant (to keep in your pocket or bag when you leave your car). And sunglasses! When it’s sunny, the glare from icy or wet roads can be blinding.

2. Match your driving—and attitude—to the conditions

BCAA roadside assistance helped tow and recover many drivers and their cars last winter. When winter hits, it’s important for us to drive according to road and weather conditions, and not necessarily the speed limit. When the weather gets bad, especially when it snows, it’s best to drive slower, leave more room between you and the car ahead and avoid problem areas such as hills, unplowed areas and narrow streets. It’s also important for all of us to be more patient on the road and give ourselves extra time to avoid rushing.

3. Be honest about your driving skills and comfort level

It’s no surprise that many of us aren’t used to driving in snowy and icy weather—extreme winters just haven’t typically happened often in BC. It’s important to know when we shouldn’t drive, perhaps because we have less winter driving experience or we’re too nervous—nothing wrong with that! When it comes down to it, extreme winter weather can make driving a challenge, even for the most experienced driver.

Source: BCAA

2017 Ajusto survey: The Desjardins program is making better drivers

A recent survey of Ajusto users confirms that, since Desjardins launched the program in 2013, it has helped improve the way people drive.

Safer drivers
The majority of respondents (close to 75%) said they had improved their driving by sticking closer to speed limits and by avoiding sharp acceleration, braking and cornering. Also, 76% of them said they feel that Ajusto helps improve road safety.

“I’m really proud of the results. We’re committed to helping improve road safety and preventing accidents. These results confirm that focusing on prevention is the key to making that happen,” said Denis Dubois, President and COO of Desjardins General Insurance Group.

Satisfied users

  • 91% of respondents said they were satisfied with the program as a whole.
  • Since the program was launched, users have saved an average of 10% on their auto insurance premium. Almost 80% of survey respondents said they were satisfied with their discount.

Drivers get rewarded sooner
Recent analysis has shown that after using Ajusto for only three months, a person’s driving can be mapped sufficiently to assign a representative score. As a result, Desjardins has shortened the data collection period to just 100 days. Now clients don’t have to wait for their policy renewal to enjoy the savings. Instead, they get their discount at the end of the 100-day period. An example of how Desjardins listened to feedback from clients to improve their offer.

Ajusto users can also continue to get driving feedback through the smartphone app called Desjardins Insurance Home-Auto, The Personal or State Farm Canada. Clients can use the app to sign up for the Ajusto and Alert programs. The app also includes features that allow clients to view their insurance policy, change their address, store a vehicle, get a quote and even start a claim.

Desjardins will continue to develop its mobile offer, providing added benefits for its policyholders. In fact, 9 out of 10 survey respondents thought new technologies (telematics, smart devices and apps) added value for customers.

As a reminder, the Ajusto program is available to drivers in Ontario and Quebec who insure their vehicle with Desjardins Insurance, The Personal or State Farm Canada (under the name Telematics). With Ajusto, policyholders can save up to 25% on their auto insurance premium based on their actual driving habits. The discount is calculated by measuring four criteria: driving smoothness (avoiding sharp acceleration, braking and cornering), speed, time of day and distance driven.

About Desjardins General Insurance Group
A subsidiary of Desjardins Group, Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG) is Canada’s third largest provider of property and casualty insurance. The company distributes insurance under the Desjardins Insurance, The Personal, and State Farm Canada brands. DGIG is also a leader in Canada in white label distribution.

SOURCE Desjardins Groupe d’assurances générales

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