Saskatchewan posts lowest number of road fatalities since records started

REGINA _ Saskatchewan’s Crown insurer says fewer people were killed on the province’s roads in 2019 than in any year since records started being kept in the 1950s.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance says preliminary statistics indicate 71 people were killed in collisions _ down from 129 in 2018.

The insurer says the 71 deaths compare with an average of nearly 140 road fatalities annually in the previous 10-year period.

The province has strengthened laws in several areas since a special committee on traffic safety was formed in 2012.

There are harsher penalties for impaired drivers and extreme speeders, photo speed enforcement was introduced and distracted driving laws were beefed up.

Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for SGI, is encouraging drivers to bring fatality numbers even lower.

“Collisions are preventable and even one traffic death is too many,” he said in a release Monday. “We can’t celebrate when people are still being killed and injured on our roads.”

Hargrave noted that Saskatchewan held the record not that long ago of the highest number of road fatalities in Canada.

“If you are one of the drivers who still chooses to take risks like texting while you’re driving, driving when you’re impaired or driving at unsafe speeds, you are now in the minority,” added SGI president and CEO Andrew Cartmell.

“We ask you change your habits and become part of making this the province with the safest roads in Canada.”

 

Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Changes

revenue sharingWe don’t hear a lot about B.C.’s Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing program except when the government is handing out grants to the municipalities. The money is supposed to be employed to “support community safety and address local policing priorities.”

A requirement for participating in the revenue sharing is that the municipality must develop a plan that sets out the intended uses and performance targets for the funds received from the Province. It will report publicly on the plan and progress made toward achieving performance targets for the funds in accordance with those plans.

I did a bit of searching and found an example of one of these reports. It simply states that:

The Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant is assigned to the RCMP budget and is used to fund an additional officer. Without the grant, the City would have had to increase property tax rate a further .75% to maintain the same number of RCMP officers.

There is no evidence of a plan, targets or achievments. This is also a city with a Traffic Safety Committee whose meetings are closed to the public, will not accept public input and makes no public information on it’s deliberations available.

Rural governments simply receive a reduction in their policing bills instead of being able to exercise discretion the way municipalities do.

There are changes coming in 2020 based on changes that the province has made or is contemplating to modernize the traffic ticket system:

  • Expanding the red light Intersection Safety Camera (ISC) to operate continuously
  • Implementing speed activated ISCs
  • Implementing electronic traffic ticketing
  • Potentially replacing the traffic courts with an administrative justice tribunal

All of these changes are underway with the exception of the tribunal. This was still “somewhere over the horizon” the last time I inquired about it.

Recognizing that this will incur new costs, the province and the Union of BC Municipalities have co-operated on amendments to the agreement. The UBCM is expecting that the agreement will “generate additional net income for local governments.”

Mention was made of meetings between UBCM representatives and the provincial government in the summer of 2019 proposing the use of traffic fine revenue for a collision reduction program at intersections and the possibility of extending restrictions on the use of the revenues.

Following that consultation, “the Province is not proceeding with either of these proposals.”

Instead of requiring ICBC to fund additional traffic enforcement perhaps the money should come from provincial traffic fines instead. Let’s make problem drivers pay and enjoy a reduction in our ICBC premiums.

Ontario: Insurance impasse puts snowmobile season on thin ice

Ontario: Insurance impasse puts snowmobile season on thin ice

The excerpted article was written by Stu Mills · CBC News

A dispute over insurance is putting the recreational snowmobile season in eastern Ontario on thin ice.

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), whose members operate and maintain thousands of kilometres of trails across the province, issues liability insurance certificates to private landowners whose property the trails cross.

But this year, some landowners in this region are refusing to renew that arrangement.

The United Counties of Prescott & Russell is one of those landowners. In a French-language interview, the municipality’s director of planning, Louis Prevost, said its lawyers have recommended against renewing the annual certificate.

According to Prevost, they’re concerned the coverage would limit civil liability in the event of an accident.

Trails closed

The imbroglio has forced the Snowmobile Club of Eastern Ontario (SCEO), an OFSC member, to close 100 kilometres of its trails, about one-quarter of its network.

“Why was it acceptable last year and not this year?” asked SCEO president Kim Melbourne. “It’s frustrating.”

The closures punch holes in the network of interconnected routes that take sledders from one end of the Prescott & Russell to the other, Melbourne said.

“Maybe the [snowmobile club] members will be happy just going around in circles, and when they get bored they’ll just turn around and go the other way,” she scoffed.

The insurance impasse means popular trails through the Larose forest, a huge wooded area in the western part of the region, is off limits, as is a former rail corridor still owned by CN, which crosses the region from the Ontario-Quebec border Ottawa’s city limits.

‘It’s dangerous’

“Right now, it’s dangerous,” said snowmobiler Sébastien Saumure, who worries the sudden trail closures will catch some by surprise.

Saumure, who lives in L’Orignal, Ont., said he’s more likely to go sledding in western Quebec where the trails remain uninterrupted.

That worries Charles Lamarche, who estimates half the wintertime customers at his bar-motel in Plantagenet, Ont., are snowmobilers.

“If there’s no snowmobile season, I really don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said in French.

Instead of enjoying their sport, Melbourne and other volunteers with the club will have to spend their time posting “Trail Closed” signs along the network. She’s imploring members to obey them.

Source: CBC News

Santa wasn’t the only one watching for bad behaviour last month

Police throughout Saskatchewan were keeping a watchful eye for impaired drivers as part of the December Traffic Safety Spotlight, and SGI delivered warnings about the consequences of impaired driving via songs with a holiday twist that were performed live in public and streamed on Facebook.

Some people must have tuned out, though, because police reported 295 impaired driving offences, including 249 Criminal Code charges, for the month of December.

Impaired driving is the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads. Enforcement is stronger than ever, and consequences include licence suspensions, vehicle impoundments, Ignition Interlock requirements, penalties under the safe Driver Recognition program, and potential fines and/or jail time imposed by the courts.

There’s never a good reason to drive impaired, and there’s always a better choice. If you’re going to be impaired, plan a safe ride.  If you’re already impaired, don’t get behind the wheel.

Distracted driving tickets drop

With the cost of distracted driving tickets set to increase significantly on Feb. 1, December marked the second straight month of lower-than-average distracted driving offences reported by law enforcement.

Police reported 534 distracted driving offences (including 408 tickets for cellphone use) in December, which was the lowest monthly total in all of 2019, and follows a dramatic drop in distracted driving offences reported in November.  To help put December’s result into context: for the first 10 months of 2019, the monthly average of distracted driving tickets was nearly 900. It reached an all-time TSS record of 1,290 in October.

It’s too soon to draw any conclusions about what this means, but hopefully it’s the start of a trend of fewer people driving distracted. It’s a potentially deadly mistake, and — starting in February — it will be a much more costly one.

Law enforcement also reported the following results for December:

  • 4,722 tickets for speeding/aggressive driving.
  • 309 tickets for improper seatbelt or child restraint use

Follow SGI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.

The Difficulty With Stop Signs

Stop LineOne wouldn’t think that stopping at a stop sign would be such a problem for drivers. It seems relatively simple, come to a complete stop, look both ways and then go if it is safe to do so. With the poor compliance rate, we should ask is the stop sign the best form of traffic control for intersections that are not controlled by traffic signals?

Let’s examine what making a proper stop means and where it has to be done. You may be surprised to learn that the stop sign itself simply tells you what you must do, not where you have to do it.

The simplest case is one where there is nothing at the intersection other than the stop sign. Here one must stop before entering the intersection itself and in a position nearest to the crossroad where a driver has a clear view of traffic approaching on that crossroad.

Where there is a marked crosswalk along with the stop sign a driver must stop before entering the crosswalk. Doing so will protect against a collision if the driver has failed to notice any pedestrians present.

One failure of our current Motor Vehicle Act is not including unmarked crosswalks in this requirement. Not all unmarked crosswalks are preceeded by a marked stop line to provide some protection for pedestrians.

The stop sign with a marked stop line seems to be the most difficult. Stop lines never seem to be placed at a point where the driver has a good view to the left and right if they stop as required. Consequently, stop lines are often ignored completely. The proper thing to do here is to stop at the line, move ahead to a point where you can see properly, stop again and then proceed after looking both ways to insure it is safe to do so.

Death by Stop Sign is an article in Psychology Today authored by John Staddon. He singles out the stop sign saying:

Look at the familiar stop sign. It does two bad things: First, it makes you look at the stop sign rather than the traffic—it distracts. Second, it doesn’t tell you what you need to know. It tells you to stop even when you can see perfectly well that there is no cross traffic. It shouts “don’t trust your own judgment!”

Dr. Staddon provides Britain as an example of how it should be done. Stop signs are a rare item beside their roads he says, you will find yield signs or their equivalent road markings instead. They have a lower collision rate than North America and yielding instead of stopping saves time and reduces pollution.

He also hints that the roundabout would be preferred over both stop and yield signs. These intersections can reduce collisions by 37% and fatal collisions by 90%.

So, until roundabouts become common in British Columbia, keep in mind that more than half of all collisions happen at intersections. Following proper stop sign etiquette places you in control in a high hazard area.

Reference Links:

 

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 for 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.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

 

DriveSmartBC: An Overview of Car Insurance for BC Drivers

Chances are good that when you think about car insurance your first thought is about how much it is going to cost you rather than how well it is going to protect you if something goes wrong. You might even be tempted to shade the truth about who will be driving your vehicle or how they will be using it to reduce those costs. Be very careful how you make decisions about insurance as making poor choices can put you at huge financial risk post crash.

Insurance is a contract between you and an insurance company. Pay the premiums and the company will protect you from financial losses specified in the contract.

The risk is spread among all the policy holders in an effort to make the premiums more affordable, but you may have to pay a higher premium if you are at higher risk for making a claim. Penalty point and driver risk premiums are used by ICBC in addition to your collision history to set rates.

The surest way to keep premiums low is to keep the number of claims low. This concept appears to be lost on many drivers today. Some make no connection between the way they drive and the risk that they present.

We consider insurance so important that a policy must be in effect in order to drive. You must carry a liability card while driving and produce it to police on demand. Should you be involved in a collision, you must produce particulars of the liability card in writing to anyone suffering loss or injury or who witnessed the collision if they request it.

In British Columbia, we all have to buy our basic third party liability insurance from ICBC. This protects us from the damage that we do to others if we are at fault in a collision. Basic Autoplan covers up to $200,000.00 but a quick look at some of the case law on this site will suggest that this is nowhere near enough. An honest, careful discussion with your Autoplan Agent can help you decide what is appropriate for your circumstances.

We can buy additional third party insurance and coverage for our own damage; collision, fire, theft, vandalism and other losses from ICBC or other private insurance companies. In this case, it could pay you to compare insurance companies to see if their rates for similar or better coverage costs less than an ICBC policy.

According to Hergott Law, the best $25.00 that you will ever spend on insurance is for Underinsured Motorist Protection.

Now that you are insured, be careful not to do anything that would breach your contract. Driving while impaired, without a driver’s licence or with a suspended licence, evading police action, racing or making a misrepresentation on the application for insurance can all void your coverage.

In some contract breaches, ICBC will pay for damages done to others and then expect you to reimburse the cost. The corporation may also cancel or refuse to issue a driver’s licence or vehicle licence and number plates for outstanding motor vehicle-related debts.

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.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

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