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What do I Have to Tell Police During a Traffic Stop?

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Ticket WriterWhat do you have to tell police when you are the subject of a traffic stop? I’ve often been asked about whether you have to answer the casual conversation at a road check that might include questions like Where are you coming from? Where are you going to? How much have you had to drink tonight? The answer is no, you don’t.

Occasionally I would stop a driver who had committed a traffic violation that would roll down their driver’s window half an inch, poke their driver’s licence out and roll the window back up to await service of a ticket. There are a multitude of reasons for doing this, most innocent, but the first thing that had to come to my mind was that they were trying to hide something and it was my job to find out. It was usually the odour of liquor that the driver did not want wafted in my direction.

I did have one tool at my disposal to force a short conversation. A driver must state his name and address and the name and address of the vehicle’s registered owner when requested to do so by police. This is also useful for what is known as the Shriver’s Test. Case law has established that these answers, when compared to what is shown on the driver’s licence, strengthens the identification of the driver if they match.

Answers to other questions are optional and it is up to you to decide whether you want to provide the information or not. If you choose not to, state your position politely and request that any documents be returned to you so that you may proceed once the officer has completed his or her inquiries.

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 ten 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 site.

Vacation Tips for Protecting Your Home and Car

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

EDMONTON, June 24, 2015 /CNW/ – With the start of the summer season, many people will celebrate the warmer weather by heading to the cottage or out of town on vacation. Before leaving the house to kick back and relax, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reminding Western Canadians to protect their homes and cars while they are away.

“If you take 15 minutes to check off each point on the IBC Top 10 list, you’ll go a long way to preventing thefts and accidents that could damage your biggest assets – your home and car,” says Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western & Pacific, IBC.  

Here are IBC’s top 10 tips for preparing your home and car for vacation:

  1. Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to check on your home every few days.
    • Have someone collect your mail and/or newspapers, park a car in your driveway and check your home for any damage. Make sure they know how to reach you.
  2. Make your home look lived in.
    • Noticeable differences from your home’s usual appearance can hint that you are away. Consider using timers that turn lights on and off automatically, and leave curtains and blinds as normal (removing valuables from sight).
  3. Disconnect electronics.
    • Unplug TV sets, stereos, computers and other electronic devices, or plug them into a surge protector.
  4. Inspect your home before you leave.
    • Put away bicycles and gardening equipment, and lock your shed. It’s also helpful to keep trees and shrubs trimmed so your house is in plain view.
    • Update your home inventory and take photos or videos of its contents.
  5. Double-check that all doors and windows in your home are locked.
  6. If you have a security system, set it before you go.
  7. If possible, load luggage into your car in your garage.
  8. Close car windows, lock the doors and keep keys in a safe spot.
    • Don’t leave car keys visible in your house. Instead, keep the keys with you.
    • Remove valuables from your car.
  9. Keep your car registration and proof of insurance with you.
    • Thieves may try to falsify information if they find your registration and proof of insurance.
  10. Don’t announce your vacation plans in casual conversations or emails, or on social media sites.
    • Social media can reach further than you expect. Don’t alert potential thieves to your absence. Only post travel pictures when you return.

“As always, be sure to drive safely,” adds Adams. “Avoid distracted driving and ensure that you are properly rested before hitting the road.”


Keep kids safe on our roads this summer, ICBC urges drivers and parents

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

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Keep kids safe on our roads this summer, ICBC urges drivers and parents – ILSTV.com

Hot weather came early to B.C. this year but that means even more children will be playing outside now that school’s getting out for summer break. Road safety is not always top of mind for kids so it’s important to go over the rules of the road if you’re a parent and pay extra attention when you’re behind the wheel, especially around playgrounds and residential areas.

Child-cyclist-safetyOn average, 153 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in B.C.*

Top tips for drivers:

  • Slow down: With more children playing outside in the summer, be cautious and watch your speed, especially near playgrounds, parks and in residential areas. Playground speed limits remain in effect year-round.

  • Watch for clues: In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby. Remember that a child could dash into the street at any moment. Pay attention and always anticipate the unexpected.

  • Watch for cyclists: Actively watch for cyclists on the road who might be harder to see. Make eye contact with them whenever possible to let them know you have seen them. Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left.

Top tips for parents:

  • Focus on the basics: Go over these important road safety tips with your children – even older children need to be reminded about road safety.

  • Set a good example: Never jaywalk or run across the street. Where possible, cross at intersections with a pedestrian crossing light or marked crossing.

  • Parked vehicles: Encourage your children to avoid shortcuts through parking lots or around parked cars where it’s harder for drivers to see small children.

  • Safe driving with children: Relatives, friends’ parents, and other caregivers often transport children in the summer. The law requires children be secured in car seats or booster seats until they are four feet nine inches tall or at least nine years old. Make sure your children’s seats or boosters goes with them if they might travel without you by car.

  • Cycling 101: Cyclist injuries from crashes with vehicles peak in July and August. It’s never too early to teach your children safe cycling behaviour – it could help make it second-nature to them when they’re older. Start by covering these basics:

    • Cycle in a straight line, avoid weaving and try to be as predictable as possible.

    • When sharing a path with pedestrians, ride on the right hand side for everyone’s safety. Use a bell or horn to alert others when you plan to pass.

    • When turning, shoulder check well in advance, hand signal and then with both hands on the handle bars, shoulder check again before turning.

    • Make sure children wear approved helmets that meet safety standards every time they ride their bikes and periodically inspect them for signs of wear.

Regional statistics*:

  • On average, 108 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in the Lower Mainland.

  • On average, 19 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year on Vancouver Island.

  • On average, 17 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in the Southern Interior.

  • On average, seven child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in the North Central region.

*Notes: ICBC crash and injury data used (2009 to 2013).


Toll from faulty General Motors ignition switches now stands at 117 deaths and 237 injuries

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

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The death toll from faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ small cars has risen by three to 117.

Victims’ families are being offered compensation of at least $1 million each by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by GM last year. In addition, Feinberg will make offers to 237 people who were injured in crashes caused by the switches in the Chevrolet Cobalt and other older cars.

GM recalled 2.6 million of the cars last year, but acknowledged it knew about the switch problems for more than a decade.

Feinberg’s compensation fund received 4,342 claims by the Jan. 31 deadline. Seventy-nine claims remain under review. About 90 per cent were deemed deficient or ineligible.

GM paid $200 million to settle claims filed with Feinberg as of March 31.


Why Does a Criminal Target a Vehicle?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

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Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada

How often your make and model of vehicle is stolen is one of the factors insurers use to set your insurance premium. Thieves generally steal vehicles for one of four reasons:

  1. To sell abroad: Stolen vehicles are often immediately packed – with their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) still intact – and shipped abroad, where they are sold for many times their original market value.
  2. To sell to unsuspecting consumers: Stolen vehicles may be given a false VIN and then sold to unsuspecting consumers. They can also be dismantled and sold for parts.
  3. To get somewhere: This may be referred to as “joyriding.” Auto theft of any kind is a crime and innocent people may get hurt or killed as a result.
  4. To commit another crime: Stolen vehicles used to commit other crimes are often recovered – abandoned and badly damaged – within 48 hours of their theft.

$75,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Mechanical Neck Pain

Friday, June 19th, 2015

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Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, assessing damages for a chronic neck injury caused by a motor vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Renaerts v. Renaerts) the 24 year old Plaintiff was injured as a passenger in a 2009 collision.  She sustained a variety of injuries that made a quick recovery but also sustained a neck injury which remained symptomatic to the time of trial and had a generally guarded prognosis.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $75,000 Mr. Justice Brown provided the following reasons:

[215]     Given accepted evidence as a whole, I agree with Mr. Shew that rehabilitation should focus on healthy activity, core strengthening, and a guided exercise program. I do not see this form of therapy requires only one assessment, off you go, and good luck to you. A kinesiologist and properly trained fitness instructor would encourage the plaintiff to expand her functioning and strength within safe medical limits and increase her confidence. Further, the plaintiff would benefit from instruction from her family physician, at no cost, on how to make the most effective choice and use of pain medication. The plaintiff had consumed six to eight pills a day…

[218]     In summary, while the plaintiff’s symptoms and limitations are likely to be permanent, and the general tenor of the opinions on prognosis is at best guarded, there are also reasonable grounds to expect that through strengthening exercises, increased activity, and appropriate use of the treatment modalities and the program just outlined, the plaintiff’s symptoms and level of functioning could see some improvement on a more sustained basis…

[241]     Chronic mechanical back pain is her only really significant injury, as the others cleared up within a couple of months or so of the accident. The record shows that she made some improvement with chiropractic treatment and physiotherapy, but I agree with those medical opinions that have opined the emphasis should be on strengthening, fitness and suitable activities. I do not see chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapy and the assistance of a kinesiologist and fitness instructor as the means of a cure, rather, as the means of helping her progress, and through strengthening, building self-confidence, be better able to cope with her limitations and reduce them, to some degree. This is not a case where the plaintiff has had to give up on her recreational activities. She is capable of independent living, albeit, she will require some limited assistance with housekeeping, such as annual cleaning. I have made some allowance for loss of homemaking capacity; but in my view, considering the nature of her homemaking limitations, $5000 is a reasonable representation of her loss in that area.

[242]     The plaintiff has sought to get on with her life to the best of her ability, with the encouragement of her friends, who amply attest to her limitations and the pain and limitations she has experienced. It is important to note that the plaintiff sustained these injuries at a time when she was somewhat vulnerable, not living at home, supporting herself and having to manage what was a fairly complex life and difficult set of responsibilities.

[243]     I award the plaintiff $75,000 for non-pecuniary damages, inclusive of loss of homemaking capacity.


Tech tools can help keep your teenage driver safe

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Teens have long had the highest crash rate of any age group in the United States, but the stretch roughly from Memorial Day through Labor Day is especially dangerous. According to 2013 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, June, July and August had higher teenage crash deaths than in any other months of the year.

Anybody who has teenage drivers in the house has probably spent fretful moments waiting for their child to come home after a night behind the wheel, particularly in that first year after getting their license.

If you’re like me, the interrogation begins right after your teen hit the front door: Where did you go? Did you get on the highway? Who else was in the car? And did you remember to pull over to the side to answer you cellphone?

Ever-improving technology provides those answers – and offers parents peace of mind and possibly discounts on car insurance premiums, too.

In-car devices for monitoring teen drivers have been around for several years, but as the technology has improved so have the options to choose from. These devices – relying on GPS, or global positioning system technology – check on speed, location, accelerating, braking and more. Parents can even get a daily driving report card sent to their email, and be alerted if the device is unplugged.

Some systems are offered for free by insurance companies for one year. Others range from $80 to $150 plus monthly service fees of about $20.

The premise behind the technology is simple: Teens who know they’re being monitored by their parents will take fewer risks than unsupervised teens, resulting in fewer accidents and safer driving habits. And data supports that notion.

The devices are easy to install. Find the diagnostic port, which is usually under the left side of the dashboard, and plug it in.

If you’re shopping for a monitoring device, start with your auto insurer to see if they offer one, said Mike Right, a spokesman for AAA Missouri. While the devices are often pitched as a way to lower your teen’s insurance premium, that’s not always the case, he added.

Travelers Insurance, for example, offers a premium discount on its IntelliDrive program, which is available in eight states. On the other hand, USAA does not on its Young Drivers Intelligence service. However, it will pay the $279 product cost for one year.

Consumer Reports magazine last year highlighted three devices that performed well in its tests: Mastrack, MobiCoPilot and Motosafety.

Before adding the plug-in, make sure your particular vehicle is compatible with the device, Right said. Most work on all vehicles built after 1996. Another area to explore is the privacy practice of the companies offering the device. What are they doing with the data collected on your young driver?

In addition to the GPS devices, there are plenty of smart phone apps that prevent texting and talking while driving. For example, Sprint’s Drive First app detects when the vehicle is in motion and sends auto replies to text messages and directs incoming calls to voice mail. AT&T’s DriveMode has similar services.

What if you opt to skip the GPS devices and phone apps? At the very least, AAA recommends a parent-teen driving agreement that lays down clear rules and consequences for young drivers. For a sample contract, go to TeenDriving.AAA.com.

Until driverless cars hit the roads in full force, contracts and tech tools may have to suffice.


Take steps to thwart car thieves

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

By Doug Sullivan TADA President | Source: Toronto Star

In April, the Toronto Star published a story about how car thieves have been targeting posh neighborhoods and high-end vehicles.

One thing that struck me about the article is how thieves are targeting vehicles with the latest, high-tech security systems. They’re using sophisticated technology to gain access to electronic devices that can bypass a vehicle’s security system.

Although thieves are becoming more adept at figuring out ways to steal automobiles, the general trend in police-reported motor theft has been declining for the past decade.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, motor vehicle theft fell by eight per cent over 2012. Since 2003, motor vehicle theft has declined by 62 per cent across Canada.

Despite this encouraging trend, vehicle owners still need to be proactive to deter auto theft and protect their property. Having your car stolen is an inconvenience in terms of wasted time, dealing with insurance and finding a replacement vehicle.

The other negative impact of auto theft is that it contributes to high insurance rates, for all drivers. Ontario has the highest insurance premiums in Canada.

Whether your vehicle is parked at a condo in Toronto, in a driveway in Timmins or at a shopping centre in Sudbury, no vehicle is immune from being targeted by would-be thieves.

Yes, there are far more vehicle thefts in urban centers than in rural areas and, yes, thieves often target specific models based on their re-sale value on the black market, but no one single make or model is averse to theft.

The best that car owners can do is to take reasonable precautions and use common sense. Not leaving your car running while unattended (in your driveway or at a corner store) would qualify as common sense, and yet people do this all the time.

Based on my experiences and input from industry experts, here are some suggestions to help protect your vehicles and to minimize the risk of car theft.

— Place your key fob in a closed metallic box or in your fridge freezer, which reduces the chance that a thief could override your key’s coded signal.

— Don’t leave registration documents that contain a key code in your glove compartment. Your personal information can be stolen and used for identity theft.

— Remove valet keys from the glove compartments of your vehicles. Sometimes owners will forget that these keys are often in the manual wallet.

— Consider installing security etching, which permanently marks each window of your vehicle with an identification number. This type of deterrent makes it more difficult for thieves to re-sell a vehicle because all of the windows have to be replaced.

— Put valuables out of sight when your car is unattended. Shopping bags, purses and sports gear make easy targets if they are visible.

— Park near similar types of vehicles as yours. Thieves are often looking to fill “steal to order” models, and if several vehicles within close proximity fit that description, odds are reduced that your vehicle will be targeted.

— Keep your car keys in a secure place; don’t hang them on keyboards in the home and make sure they’re not visible through windows.

— Always lock your doors and close your windows when your car is unattended.

— Park your vehicle in well-lit and well-travelled areas.

This column represents the views of TADA. Email president@tada.ca or visittada.ca. Doug Sullivan, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in Huntsville, Ont.


Court Finds ICBC Under No Legal Duty To Inform An Insured Of Hit And Run Claim Obligations

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dismissing a claim for damages following a hit and run collision.

In today’s case (Li v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2010 rear end collision.  After speaking with the at fault motorist the parties agreed to pull over and exchange information. The Defendant fled the scene.  The Plaintiff claimed damages directly from ICBC pursuant to s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

At trial her claim was dismissed with the Court finding she did not take all reasonable steps after the collision to identify the at-fault motorist.  The Plaintiff argued ICBC could not rely on this defense as they had failed to advise her of her investigative obligations after promptly reporting the claim to ICBC.  Mr. Justice Armstrong rejected this argument finding ICBC has no duty to tell their own insured customers of their obbligatos in order to successfully claim damages caused by unidentified motorists.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[119]     The plaintiff contends that ICBC’s failure to notify the plaintiff of her obligations to take steps to identify the owner/driver as a precondition to obtaining judgment should be interpreted as waiving their right to rely on that defence. The claimant relied on Dunn where Chiasson J.A. described the two elements of a waiver claim:

[45]      As the trial judge recognized, the elements of waiver are “that the party waiving had (1) a full knowledge of rights; and (2) an unequivocal and conscious intention to abandon them”:Saskatchewan River Bungalows at 499.

[120]     The plaintiff argues that while ICBC does not have a legal or statutory obligation, it has an equitable obligation to inform its insureds of their obligations and consequences following an accident caused by an unidentified motorist’s negligence or to obviate the possibility of the claimant assuming that ICBC has accepted the claim without the need to take further steps.

[121]     Victims of unidentified motorists who do not take steps required under s. 24(5) lose access to the $200,000 fund designed to compensate the innocent victim. The plaintiff contends that claimants face serious losses when claims are defeated because they failed to take “efforts sufficient to satisfy section 24(5) (that) could have been easily and inexpensively satisfied”.

[122]     Typically claimants fail to take steps to identify the negligent driver in the expectation that ICBC is administering and adjusting their claim and will not act to their prejudice. This includes an expectation that ICBC will bring s. 24(5) to their attention. In this case there was no evidence of what expectations the plaintiff held concerning ICBC’s role.

[123]     The plaintiff argues that ICBC is overwhelmingly in the best position to inform their insureds on the process, and when they fail to do so they knowingly allow the injured claimant to fall into the trap that is s. 24(5).

[124]     Nevertheless, the evidence in this case does not satisfy me that in its administrative processing of this hit-and-run claim ICBC consciously abandoned its rights when staff discussed the plaintiff’s claim with her. I conclude that ICBC’s decision or practice of withholding information concerning s. 24(5) of the Act while at the same time addressing Ms. Li’s claim could not operate as a waiver of their right to rely on the provisions of s. 24(5) to obtain judgment.

[125]     Nothing in the evidence satisfied me that ICBC had considered the plaintiff’s claim and “unequivocally and consciously” elected to abandon its protection under s. 24(5). Further, if a hit and run claim proceeds to trial, ss. (5) is not a section of the Act that could be waived by ICBC; the section prevents the court granting judgment unless satisfied that the claimant has met the obligation under ss. (5). Although I do not decide the point, it seems to me nothing would prevent the parties from making admissions of facts necessary to prove compliance with the subsection; judgment could then be granted.


US: The Insane Reason You Could Pay 50% More For Car Insurance

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Source: Time

You probably figure that if you’re a bad driver and collect some fender-benders or speeding tickets in your DMV record, your insurance company is going to charge you accordingly. But what you might not have expected is that insurers also might slap you with penalties — sometimes hefty ones — if you’ve blown off paying a bill here or there.

Car insurance companies in all but three states — California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, where it’s illegal — use a driver’s credit history in the secret sauce of their underwriting formulas. People with bad credit are considered higher-risk customers, so insurers often charge them more, explains Jill Gonzalez, an expert at WalletHub, a personal finance site that just published a study showing what insurance companies in what states penalize drivers the most for poor credit.

WalletHub asked the five biggest car insurance companies in the country for quotes for two imaginary drivers who were identical except that one test case had excellent credit and the other had no credit history.

“There is a strong correlation between one’s credit characteristics and insurance losses,” Gonzalez says. “The insurance companies usually look at the the credit history to see how the insured can manage his or her risk exposure.”

Across the board, the difference between quotes given to the “great credit” versus the “no credit” driver varied by 49%, but some fluctuations were much, much greater.

Credit obviously isn’t the only factor insurers look at to determine premiums, and different companies assign varying degrees of importance to this characteristic. WalletHub’s study finds that Farmers Insurance seems to place the most weight on driver credit data, with a 62% difference between quotes given to WalletHub’s two hypothetical drivers. Even Geico, the insurer WalletHub says “seems to rely on credit data the least,” has a 32% fluctuation between the two driver scenarios.

The results also vary widely by state; in Connecticut, the impact of great credit versus no credit only contributes to a 15% fluctuation in premiums. In Michigan, however, it’s another story: WalletHub finds that credit status contributes to a 115% fluctuation in rates.

Gonzalez says the biggest issue consumers face is that a lot of companies aren’t up-front about their use of credit data in underwriting. “The problem we discovered is that not all of the companies are transparent in letting their customers know that credit scores impact insurance premiums to a significant extent,” she says.

WalletHub looked at the websites of the 10 biggest auto insurers to see how soon, how often and how prominently they advised customers that their credit would be a variable in the eventual premium price they were quoted. It says Progressive is the most transparent, but Gonzalez points out that a lack of transparency among many carriers means that drivers have to do a lot more homework if they have credit problems.

“Consumers with no credit have to do some serious research before deciding on an insurance company,” she says.