New Brunswick government recommends winter tires but won’t make them mandatory

New Brunswick is resisting renewed calls to make snow tires mandatory, as provinces across the country take different legislative approaches to the annual slip and slide of winter driving.

Green Leader David Coon says, just like seatbelts, mandatory winter tires would make it safer for motorists.

“Everyone knows that if you have winter tires you have much more stopping capacity in the winter and are less likely to slide when the conditions aren’t optimal on the roads,” he said Tuesday, December13, 2016.

But New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Denis Landry said while he encourages the use of winter tires, he has no plan to make their use mandatory.

“I’m always saying, if you drive in the snow, drive slow. You have to be careful when you’re driving. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a good thing, but at the same time we’re not planning to make winter tires mandatory here in New Brunswick,” Landry said.

He said while winter tires are the law in Quebec, it didn’t stop buses, police cars and plows from sliding in videos that went viral on social media last week.

In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory between Dec. 15 and March 15, while British Columbia requires winter tires be used on certain mountain routes.

Ontario requires insurance companies to give a discount or benefit to drivers who use winter treads.

The Canadian Automobile Association recommends the use of winter tires across Canada, but won’t be calling on provincial governments to make it mandatory.

CAA spokeswoman, Kristine D’Arbelles, said it’s more important that motorists slow down and adjust their driving to weather and road conditions.

“Winter tires, on their own, are not a solution, and that’s why we’re not out there banging on every single door saying that they have to be law everywhere,” D’Arbelles said.

“We want to encourage drivers to use them as much as possible. Whether or not it needs to be law is still up for debate, and that’s why we leave that to the provincial governments. They know their territories much better than we do,” she said.

The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada says winter tires provide a better grip than other tires once it is below seven degrees Celsius.

It says winter tires should be considered as “cold weather tires” rather than just as “snow tires.”

RCMP Staff Sgt. Gilles Blinn, a Traffic Services unit veteran in New Brunswick, said his years of driving and responding to accidents tell him that using winter tires makes sense.

But like many others, Blinn said winter tires aren’t the only answer.

“If you have winter tires on your car and you exceed your driving capability and the speed you should be driving for the winter conditions, you’re going to have a crash,” he said.

Coon wants the New Brunswick government to start by requiring all rental vehicles to have winter tires. He said people who rent vehicles are too often unable to get a car with winter treads.

He said legislation is needed because too many motorists think all-season tires are enough for a Canadian winter.

“I think that all-season tires give people the sense that they’re covered, and it’s an economical way to cover both summer and winter driving, but it’s not the case. All-season tires don’t provide the kind of capacity that winter tires do,” he said.

 

Uber self driving cars hit the streets of San Francisco

Uber is bringing a small number of self-driving cars to its ride-hailing service in San Francisco – a move likely to excite the city’s tech-savvy population and certain to antagonize California regulators.

The Wednesday, December 14, 2016 launch in Uber’s hometown expands a public pilot program the company started in Pittsburgh in September. The testing lets everyday people experience the cars as Uber works to identify glitches before expanding the technology’s use in San Francisco and elsewhere.

California law, however, requires a test permit for “autonomous vehicles,” and Uber does not have one. The company argues that the law doesn’t apply because its cars require a human backup – so while they are self-driving, they are not autonomous.

Making that kind of distinction is in line with Uber’s history of testing legal boundaries. Although the company has been around less than a decade, it has argued with authorities around the world about how much of its drivers’ histories should be covered in background checks and whether those drivers should be treated as contractors ineligible for employee benefits.

THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO

Uber’s self-driving tests in San Francisco will begin with a “handful” of Volvo luxury SUVs _ the company wouldn’t release an exact number _ that have been tricked out with sensors so they can steer, accelerate and brake, and even decide to change lanes. The cars will have an Uber employee behind the wheel to take over should the technology fail. Users of the app may be matched with a self-driving car, but can opt out if they prefer a human driver. Self-driven rides cost the same as ordinary ones.

The cars will be put to the test in the congested streets of San Francisco. The city can be a daunting place to drive given its famously steep hills, frequent fog, street and cable cars, an active bicycle culture, and roads that are constantly being repaved, remarked and restricted for bike lanes and traffic management.

Uber believes its technology is ready to handle all this safely, though its executives concede the vehicles are nowhere near able to drive without a human ready to take control in dicey situations.

There was room for improvement during a Tuesday test drive attended by The Associated Press. The car was destined for a local pizza parlour, but didn’t pull directly in front of the restaurant, and instead stopped in the middle of the street. The cars may strike some riders as over-cautious, too. During the test drive, one idled in a traffic jam even though an adjacent lane was clear, prompting the human driver to make the move himself.

Uber’s fleet of Volvo XC90s won’t be the first self-driving cars on San Francisco streets – several other companies visit regularly with test prototypes, though none offers public rides.

Once testing is complete, the ultimate vision is to sell to the public technology which supporters argue will save thousands of lives because it doesn’t drink, text, fall asleep or take dangerous risks.

PERMIT ME NOT

Under state law, tests of autonomous vehicles on public roads require a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The department has issued permits to 20 companies, mostly a collection of traditional automakers and tech companies – but not Uber.

Uber argues that its cars aren’t covered by the law, which says that an “autonomous vehicle” requires a permit if it can drive itself “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.”

According to Anthony Levandowski, the leader of Uber’s self-driving program, Uber’s cars simply aren’t advanced enough to drive themselves without human monitoring. “We’re just not capable of doing that yet,” he said. Therefore, the Volvos are not autonomous and do not require a permit, he said.

It makes no sense to get a permit when one is not needed, Levandowski said: “This is where science and logic needs to trump blind compliance.”

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the DMV said it “encourages the responsible exploration of self-driving cars” and noted that 20 companies have permits to test hundreds of cars in California.

“Uber shall do the same,” the statement said.

Operating without a permit arguably gives Uber a competitive advantage. Companies with one must report to the state all crashes and every instance in which a person takes control during testing. All that information is public. To receive a permit, a company must show proof of insurance, pay a $150 fee and agree that a human driver can take control of the vehicle.

Uber’s stance seems likely to upset both state officials and competitors, said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who tracked California’s law as it was drafted in 2012. While an attorney could argue that Uber is reading the letter of California law correctly, Smith said, testing permits were “envisioned as a gateway, as an interim step” to launching self-driving cars on public roads.

Smith recalled discussing at the time the argument that Uber is now making: One day, a company might go public without a testing permit precisely because the law requires human oversight during testing.

 

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

VIDEO – Rethink Speed

movie_symbolQuoted from the YouTube video page: Our speed is one of the few things we control on the roads. While speed doesn’t always cause crashes, it always determines the severity of a crash. This is because the speed we travel at creates a force and it’s our vehicle and our bodies that absorb this force in a crash. This means the faster we choose to travel, the more severe a crash will be (whether the crash is our fault or not).

EVERY SPEED HAS A CONSEQUENCE

As much as we like to think we’re invincible, we’re not. The human body can only withstand certain amounts of force in a car crash. In fact, the impact forces of a car travelling at 30km/hr are enough to be fatal for a pedestrian that is hit, or for a driver in a side-on collision with a tree.

RSA Canada’s 9 Things You Should Do For Safer Winter Driving

Press Relase:

TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2016 – With winter just a few weeks away, RSA Canada, a leading general home and auto insurer, is urging drivers to exercise more caution on the road than normal.

The warning comes as Canadians prepare for an extreme winter, according to the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac.

“Extremely cold temperatures, intense snow storms and blizzard conditions have been forecast for the months ahead, so now is the time to get prepared,” RSA Canada spokesperson Brodie Bott says.

“The best defense against this kind of weather is to have a strong offense and plan ahead so you can mitigate any potential danger to you and your loved ones. Whether you’re planning to travel this holiday season or just commuting to and from work, drivers will need to take extra precaution when on the road, and give themselves additional time to get to their destination.”

“Bad weather doesn’t cause accidents, but bad driving habits do,” Bott says.

Check out RSA Canada’s top winter driving tips to help you and your family stay safe:

  • Use extreme caution when driving – it’s not how long it takes, but that you arrive safely.
  • Allow yourself at least three times the normal stopping distance.
  • Have the car battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
  • Be proactive and have your winter tires put on before the first snowfall. Winter tires are important for safe driving.
  • Make sure to inform friends and family of your driving route. In case you’re running late, people will know where you are.
  • Have your cellphone with you at all times and make sure that you have a charger or an extra battery on hand. Don’t use your phone while driving.
  • During winter, check your tire pressure weekly.
  • If the police or a civil authority has closed a road or a highway, it is for your own safety.  Do not attempt to drive on it.
  • Have an emergency travel kit ready in your vehicle at all times. Kit contents should include:
    • Blanket and extra clothing – includes hats, gloves and boots;
    • Flashlight and batteries, extra fully-charged cell phone or battery;
    • First aid kit;
    • Map; and
    • Ice scraper and/or snow brush.

For more information visit rsagroup.ca, and get social with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About RSA
With a 300 year heritage, RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational quoted insurance groups. Focusing on general insurance, RSA’s core markets are the UK and Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada with the capability to write business across the globe. We have around 14,000 employees across the core business and, in 2015, our net written premiums were £6.8 billion.

About Johnson
Johnson Inc. is a licensed insurance agency in Alberta. Morgex Insurance is a division of Johnson Inc. Servus Insurance Services | Home and Auto, a division of Johnson Inc., is not a subsidiary of Servus Credit Union, it is a tradestyle of Johnson Inc.used under license from Servus Credit Union. JB Insurance Services is a trade name of Johnson Inc. Home and auto insurance is available through Johnson Inc., a licensed insurance intermediary in AB. Policies are primarily underwritten by Unifund Assurance Company (Unifund). Unifund and Johnson Inc. share common ownership.

About RSA Canada
RSA Canada includes Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (www.rsagroup.ca), The Johnson Corporation and its affiliates (www.johnson.ca), RSA Travel Insurance Inc. (www.rsatravelinsurance.ca) which operates as RSA Travel Insurance Agency in British Columbia, Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company (www.cns.ca), Western Assurance Company (www.westernassurance.ca), Ascentus Insurance Ltd., and Quebec Assurance Company.

©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.

SOURCE RSA Canada

BCAA survey – BC motorists admit to being Canada’s worst winter drivers

BCAA survey – BC motorists admit to being Canada’s worst winter drivers

Drivers overplay their skills, underestimate weather conditions and downplay risks

B.C. motorists feel pretty good about their winter driving skills heading into what the World Meteorological Organization predicts will be a colder and stormier season across the province. Despite the majority admitting to being the worst winter drivers in the nation in a new BCAA survey conducted by Insights West, B.C. drivers are taking little action to prepare for bad weather. BCAA provides drivers with safety tips to prepare their vehicle and adjust driving habits for winter.

Almost one in three (32%) B.C. motorists say there’s no need for them to prepare for winter driving because they consider themselves to be a good driver. One third (31%) say they won’t prepare until it actually snows, while one third (31%) don’t believe B.C. is in store for a bad winter.

“Call it overconfidence or denial but, based on our data and in my experience, too many British Columbians, especially in the Lower Mainland, don’t think about winter driving until it’s too late,” says Stu Miller, BCAA senior manager of automotive operations.

Miller, who has worked in the business for 20 years, says he sees it every season. “Winter weather can create unpredictable road conditions anywhere and at any time, which can turn out to be challenging for even the most experienced driver.”

The survey shows that drivers may be taking risks by not being honest with themselves about their driving skills or comfort level when it comes to winter driving. According to the study’s results, B.C. drivers are confident but at the same time nervous driving in bad conditions, exposing a contradiction in drivers’ self-assessments. Almost two thirds (64%) claim they are experienced but nervous winter drivers and almost half (45%) say they’re experienced drivers but bad at driving in winter conditions.

A concern for BCAA is that 47 per cent reveal that they’re nervous about driving in snow but drive anyway—one third even admit to “freaking out a bit” when having to drive in snow. Over 60 per cent will not stay off the roads in bad conditions.

For 71 per cent of B.C. drivers, winter driving is not a concern because they believe it “doesn’t snow much where they live.” But for Miller, snow is only part of the challenge. “Sleet, icy roads, heavy rainfall, cold temperatures and more hours of darkness—this is a season of weather hazards at every turn and with half of drivers not even checking the weather before heading out, it’s concerning,” says Miller.

One piece of good news in Miller’s eyes is that 68 per cent think all B.C. drivers should use winter tires, though only 29 per cent are prepared with a winter roadside emergency kit, “so we have work to do,” says Miller.

With 64 per cent spending up to 10 hours and 32 per cent up to 30 hours a week behind the wheel, Miller wants drivers to be more aware of their driving skills and comfort levels when it comes to driving in any winter weather conditions. He also stresses that motorists should have other transportation options already planned in case they’re unable to drive safely in winter conditions.

According to BCAA, when harsh winter weather hits, the number of calls from across the province into the organization’s roadside assistance call centre can increase between 40 to 60 per cent on certain days. In the Metro Vancouver area, roadside assistance call volumes during snowy or frigid weather can double.

BCAA offers some easy tips to help drivers stay safe on the roads this winter:

1.       Prepare your car so it endures weather conditions and performs well so you can drive safely.

  • Get a complete vehicle check-up before cold weather sets in.
  • Carry a winter driving emergency kit and chains in your car.

2.       Adjust your driving behaviours to match the weather conditions.

  • Take precautions before and while you drive—clear snow and ice from windows and lights, defog all windows before you head out, drive at slower speeds, leave more room between you and the car ahead and use turn signals well in advance.
  • Check road and weather conditions before you head out.

3.       Make safety your priority

  • Don’t underestimate the impact all winter conditions can have on your car and ability to drive safely.
  • Be honest about your driving skills and comfort levels—don’t drive in conditions when you don’t have the skills or if you’re too nervous.
  • Avoid the temptation to drive when you shouldn’t by having other transportation options already planned.

For more information and tips on how to prepare for winter driving, visit bcaa.com/winterdriving

About the survey
Results are based on an online study conducted from October 28 to October 30, 2016, among 728 adult residents of British Columbiawho have a valid driver’s license and drive at least one hour a week. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/ 3.7 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

About BCAA
The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, auto and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and BCAA Auto Service Centres. BCAA has ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Home Insurers in Western Canada by J.D. Power five years in a row (2012-2016). With more than 100,000 partners worldwide, BCAA’s 840,000 Members can save over $1,000 per year on insurance and items they use every day. To learn more about how a BCAA Membership is rewarding, please visit bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

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