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Illegal ride hailing underway in B.C. while government reconsiders laws

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

| Jan 11, 2018 | Canadian Business, Canadian Government |

By Linda Givetash


VANCOUVER _ As the British Columbia government explores the impact of allowing ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, a number of companies have already been operating illegally in the province.

The Passenger Transportation Branch said at least seven app platforms are known to be in use by drivers and consumers in Metro Vancouver.

An advisory issued by the branch last fall said the drivers, not the app developers, are assuming the risks of running an unlicensed commercial transit service and face fines of $1,150.

Branch director Kristin Vanderkuip told an all-party legislature committee meeting in Vancouver on Monday that $12,650 in fines have been issued to illegal drivers to date. Some of the services have been found in the Victoria area as well, she said.

The branch is trying to educate consumers about the risks of using unlicensed ride-hailing services, she said.

Ted Townsend, communications director for the City of Richmond, said Tuesday it’s difficult to tell how many drivers or services are involved and their exact location because they’re organized online and transcend city boundaries.

Municipalities can’t provide business licences to drivers or app providers because there is no legal framework for them, he said in an interview.

Officials are responding to the issue as they would with any business operating without a licence, he said, but identifying drivers is a challenge.

“It’s difficult to obtain the type of evidence and information that would be required in many cases to take action,” he said. “They’re not bricks-and-mortar type of operations so it’s hard to establish exactly where they’re operating, where they’re based.”

Townsend said a provincial framework around ride-hailing businesses, which the government is exploring through hearings this week, will help cities do their part in licensing or prohibiting services.

In the meantime, he said Richmond is working with the Transportation Ministry and neighbouring cities to crack down on illegal ride-hailing.

The ministry said it has received complaints about the unlicensed companies and has several ongoing investigations.

The Passenger Transportation Branch has issued more than 20 cease and desist orders to vehicle owners across the province, it said.

The ministry warned drivers and consumers about the risks associated with the companies.

“The driver is subject to all penalties for operating illegally on the road the driver is subject to all penalties for operating illegally on the road _ and they are subject to fines of $1,150, as well as further penalties for not disclosing the commercial use of their vehicles to their insurance provider,” it said in an emailed statement.

“Customers need to know that if they choose to get a ride through these apps they are choosing to take a trip in a vehicle that has not been licensed to operate legally and safely in B.C.”

Restorative Justice: An Alternative to the Traffic Ticket

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Scales of JusticeQuite some time ago I wrote about an initiative to trade your ticket for driver training. I was very pleased with the outcome of the one instance that I tried on my own, but the program never took off as the provincial government required the RCMP to provide it to all drivers if it was implemented. The Victoria Police Department is trying something similar through Restorative Justice Victoria.

An article in the Victoria Times Colonist reports that Cst. Sean Millard implemented his idea as a pilot project that exchanged a distracted driving ticket for a 3 hour restorative justice session on December 10, 2017.

32 drivers ranging in age from 20 to 60 chose to participate instead of paying the $543 fine.

These drivers completed cognitive tests that demonstrated how difficult simple tasks become when you’re distracted. They heard personal stories, including those of a retired firefighter who talked about having to pry people out of vehicles in crashes caused by distracted driving.

Karen Bowman, who founded Drop It and Drive ran parts of the workshop. In founding Drop It and Drive Karen developed a program delivery method to achieve behavioural change through imparting knowledge, science and practical, usable tools in a highly efficient and engaging manner.

Restorative justice helps people understand how their actions affect others to create long-lasting change. The programs, if they exist in your community, are run by volunteers.

Participation in a restorative justice program like this one starts with a referral by the police, and this is likely going to be the biggest hurdle. One traffic court judicial justice that I have spoken with commented on officer resistance to step outside the normal procedure for dealing with ticket disputes, even when suggested by the court.

Referral also depends on having an appropriate program in place with your restorative justice group along with the needed volunteers to deliver it. If you want to make a difference in your community, consider volunteering.

Starting with Road Safety Vision in 2001, Canada’s national road safety strategy contained public education initiatives and targeted high risk driving behaviour. Known as the Road Safety Strategy 2025 today, this restorative justice program neatly fits that target and recognizes that the traffic ticket is not the only way to change driving behaviour for the better.

Should we have to take drivers by the hand and explain to them that distracted driving is dangerous and they should not do it? I think not, but part of the problem is that we tend to let our behaviours change to suit our perceived risk. If you cannot leave your phone alone, then the more effective ways that there are to convince you that you should, the better off we’ll all be.

The “I Can Get Away With It” Mindset

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

| Jan 5, 2018 | Ask The Expert, Auto & Trucking, Road Safety

I’ve written before about the three Es of road safety, education, engineering and enforcement. The enforcement component was the subject of a comment to me concerning a visible police presence on our highways. The observation was that unmarked cars and what seems like minimal enforcement creates a “I can get away with it” mindset.

The fleet at the last traffic unit that I worked at consisted of seven vehicles: two unmarked, two “clean roof” and three fully marked cars. One of the unmarked cars was only available for enforcement work if the supervisors weren’t working or were otherwise occupied. Policy dictated the percentage of cars that could be anything less than fully marked.

The unmarked cars were popular even though they were relatively easy to identify as police vehicles if you were paying attention. Plain trim, black steel wheels and antennas on the roof tend to stick out.

Even so, you tended to find more bad driving behaviour patrolling in the unmarked car than you would when using a fully marked vehicle. My experience was also that I was able to deal with drivers that I did not see misbehaving otherwise.

Add an unconventional unmarked vehicle to the mix and it got more interesting. We were envious of a neighbouring traffic unit that had an unmarked pickup truck with a canopy. Drivers did all sorts of foolish things around it, probably because they did not associate it with active traffic enforcement.

Our supervisor often expressed his desire to see flashing lights at the roadside. He said that the public couldn’t tell whether we were writing tickets or warnings and the flashing lights served to remind them that if they didn’t behave, the next driver pulled over might be them.

This halo effect could be very short lived however. Occasionally I would entertain myself by leaving the radar running while I wrote a ticket so I was able to keep and eye on what was overtaking us. A vehicle would come into view travelling at a speed in excess of the limit, see the flashing lights and slow down. Sometimes they even slowed to a speed under the limit. After they passed by I would frequently see their speed creep back up to the initial speed over the limit before the vehicle went out of sight.

I wonder whether flashing lights deter bad driving behaviour or if it only discourages it in places where they are seen frequently. After all, it is some other driver that is receiving police attention, not you, so why worry?

My old patrol area consisted of about 350 kilometers of numbered highway. My shift partner and I more often than not were the only dedicated traffic enforcement present save for the overlap with the day or afternoon shift depending on which shift we were working. The chance of running into either one of us was slim and truthfully, became even slimmer the farther away you were from the detachment.

I don’t agree that unmarked cars are part of the visible enforcement deficit, but the scope of the job given the size of our province contributes to a feeling of minimal enforcement and an “I can get away with it” mindset.

Two quakes damage homes, crack ground in Alberta Beach

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Jan 5, 2018

CBC News

Two seismic events wreaked havoc on homes in a small village northwest of Edmonton late Monday night.

The 2.0 magnitude quakes happened around 11:45 p.m, a spokesperson from the Alberta Energy Regulator said in a statement to CBC News Tuesday.

Staff at the energy regulator continue to investigate but said preliminary information suggests that “both events are consistent with reports of an earthquake.”

A spokesperson for the regulator said they believe Alberta Beach was hit by two naturally caused ice quakes.

Ice quakes happen when cold winter temperatures quickly freeze groundwater, causing the ground to suddenly crack and make popping sounds.

‘Hellacious crashing’

Sharon Smith said the earthquakes woke her family up around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“There was this hellacious crashing, cracking sound. My partner was here, my son was here and we all came tearing out of our bedrooms,” she told CBC News Tuesday night.

The family faced a rude awakening later that morning, when they found a gigantic crack running through their front door up to the ceiling and across the roof.

Wall crack

One of the cracks running up the wall at the Smith’s vacation home. (Sharon Smith)

The cracks extended to the walls inside their vacation home. The baseboards have also separated from the walls, she said.

Smith forced the door open and went outside to survey the damage. In the backyard, she said she found the family’s deck, normally held up by two posts, was barely supported as the posts had folded down to 45 degrees.

The cracks in the ground were so large in places, Smith said, that they opened up the ice on the waterfront close to homes bordering Lac Ste. Anne.

“I’ve never heard of an earthquake out here,” she said.

Smith said a structural engineer will be arriving at the home Wednesday morning to assess the damage.

Source: CBC News Edmonton

Canadians more worried than ever about texting and driving

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Jan 4, 2018

A Canadian Automobile Association poll finds an overwhelming majority of Canadians think texting and driving is getting worse, despite moves by law enforcement to crack down and extensive public education efforts. More than four out of five Canadians (83%) believe texting while driving is a bigger problem today than it was three years ago.

“Despite anti-texting and driving laws in all provinces across the country and several years of public education campaigns, Canadians still don’t seem to be getting the message,” says Jeff Walker, Chief Strategy Officer, CAA National.

Texting and driving is tied with drunk driving as the #1 road safety concern among Canadians, according to CAA’s poll. A whopping 96% say that drivers who text and drive are a threat to their personal safety on the road. CAA has been tracking what worries Canadians when it comes to road safety for several years. Texting while driving broke into the top 10 list of concerns in 2011. Almost seven years later, Canadians’ view on the danger of texting and driving continue to get worse.

“Studies show drivers are as much as 23 times more likely to get into a collision when they text and drive,” says Walker. “It’s important we all put our devices down and stay focused on the road.”

Canadians also believe other forms of distraction are increasingly an issue, such as emailing while driving, drivers talking on cell phones and drivers talking to/engaging with their in-car technologies.

Findings are based on a CAA poll of 2,003 Canadians carried out in November.  A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.19%, 19 times out of 20.

About CAA
CAA is a federation of eight Clubs providing over six million Members with exceptional emergency roadside service, complete automotive and travel services, member savings and comprehensive insurance services. CAA also advocates on issues of concern to its members, including road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.

SOURCE Canadian Automobile Association

Are you covered? Burnaby man hits insurance roadblocks after car share fender bender

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Jan 4, 2018

Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver

Collision damage is often covered when you use your credit card to rent a vehicle. But if you use it for car share services like Evo and Car2Go you could run into roadblocks trying to file a claim.

Eric Escobar thought he was covered when he had a fender bender driving his Evo car out of a parking garage.

The bill to repair the damages was $808, well below Evo’s $1000 deductible. And because Escobar used his Scotiabank Momentum Visa card to pay for the car share, he thought he wouldn’t have any issues.

The agreement on the Visa card clearly states, “rental vehicles which are part of a car sharing program are eligible for collision loss damage.”

So Escobar filed a claim to recover his deductible. He was denied, not just once, but again when he appealed the decision. The reason? He didn’t decline the collision damage waiver with Evo.

Normally when you rent a vehicle you’re given the option to decline their insurance by signing the collision damage waiver, but with car share you’re not given that opportunity.

“You go and use services like Evo thinking that you’re covered and then suddenly you realize they find a technical reason to not pay for the claim when a claim is filed,” Escobar said.

In B.C. you can’t opt out of collision coverage provided by car share companies. Because of that, Escobar’s credit card agreement had another clause that should have covered him. It states, in those cases, collision loss insurance will cover any deductible that may apply.

“I actually pointed that out in my appeal and they still denied it,” Escobar explained.

McLaughlin on Your Side reached out to Scotiabank who admitted someone made a mistake.

In a statement to CTV News Scotiabank said: “When you do not have the option available to decline the rental agency’s plan, our plans will cover theft, loss and damage up to the limit of the deductible. That has been our practice to date, and we’ll ensure to re-communicate that and clarify this point with the claims examiner.”

“That’s fantastic news thank you,” said Escobar, “And I hope this applies to other credit cards and people go back and look at their credit cards to make sure that they’re covered.”

CTV News also reached out to the insurance company that underwrites the coverage for Escobar’s Visa card. It told us it has corrected its internal review process to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.

Canada: Fair Insurance Act

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Last Updated: December 21 2017

Article by Marc G. Spivak

The Ontario Liberal government, just prior to an election, claims it has again decided to address high automobile insurance premiums (but ignores the negative affect of these changes on victims of car accidents).

In the 2017 Ontario Ministry of Finance Report “Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System of Ontario” the average yearly rates for car insurance by province were:

  1. Ontario: $1,458
  2. B.C.: $1,316
  3. Alberta: $1,179
  4. Newfoundland & Labrador: $1,090
  5. Manitoba: $1,001
  6. Northwest Territories: $974
  7. Nunavut: $968
  8. Yukon: $806
  9. Nova Scotia: $783
  10. Saskatchewan: $775
  11. New Brunswick: $763
  12. E.I.: $755
  13. Quebec: $724.

The Liberal government, which has historically taken away benefits and protection from victims with empty promises of keeping car insurance rates affordable (I have never seen any reduction in car insurance the last few years, have you?), has created smoke and mirrors and called it The Fair Auto Insurance Plan. This plan is supposed to “improve care, reduce disputes around diagnosis and treatment… promote innovation, competition and other steps to improve consumer protection.”

The plan creates a fancy title for investigation of alleged fraud “The Serious Fraud Office” which is to be operational by the spring of 2018. Call me sceptical but insurers have appropriately and successfully cut out all fraud from car insurance for years, so is this the Premier’s excuse why her promises regarding reducing car insurance premiums never worked out? (although they did cut off perhaps 50% of the benefits desperately needed for victims and greatly increased profits of the auto insurers).

The Fair Auto Insurance Plan will also introduce:

  • Standard treatment plans for immediate care on common injuries: sprains, whiplash, etc. (Ask yourself how “common” your injuries are when you are so inflicted).
  • Independent examination centres for more serious collision victims aimed to reduce diagnosis disputes, reduce system costs and inefficiencies (Historically “independent” examination centres are insurer biased).
  • Insurance Act to be given “greater teeth” to protect consumers (Consumer benefit has never been the intention behind changes since 1990- ask any personal injury lawyer).

These promised changes have elements that have been used in previous car insurance regimes that have all failed, yet before an election promises are being made to protect consumers! The only protection for consumers in the car insurance industry is to acquire optional benefits from your insurance broker to better protect you and your family and to ask a personal injury lawyer whether your coverage is adequate, before it is too late!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Six people injured in crashes every hour over the holidays

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Dec 21, 2017

During the holidays, an average of 340 people are injured in 1,200 crashes in B.C.* That’s 22 crashes and six people injured every hour from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day alone.

“With many people travelling to spend the holidays with family and friends, drivers should be prepared for the varied winter road conditions they’ll encounter,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “We’re asking drivers to also consider their own behaviour on our busy roads by driving smart. If we want everyone to arrive safely – we need to start with our own driving.”

Here are four important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is my vehicle ready? Many B.C. highways require winter tires, labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M+S) designation. Check the weather conditions you could encounter for your entire route at Do a pre-trip check of your vehicle, top up wiper fluid for clearer visibility and pack an emergency kit including a blanket, food and water.

  2. Am I completely focused on the road? There are many potential distractions behind the wheel and in these dark, winter conditions, if you’re not fully focused, you’re putting pedestrians, drivers and passengers at risk. You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your hand-held phone. To combat this, make important calls and look up trip routes before you get in your car and then place your phone out of reach. If you have a long drive, use highway rest stops to take a break and check your messages – some even have complimentary Wi-Fi.

  3. Do I have enough space to stop safely? It takes more time and distance to come to a complete stop on wet, icy or snowy roads. That’s why posted speed limits are set for ideal conditions only. Hazards can appear at any time. You can reduce your risk of crashing by adjusting your speed for the conditions and maintaining a safe travelling distance between vehicles.

  4. How am I getting home? If any of your holiday party plans involve alcohol, make sure you decide how you’re getting home before you head out. There’s always at least one smart option, including choosing a designated driver or setting money aside for a taxi or public transit. Operation Red Nose is also available in 19 B.C. communities. Police will be looking for impaired drivers at CounterAttack roadchecks across B.C. so if you plan to drink, leave your car at home.

Additional statistics:

  • In the Lower Mainland, an average of 250 people are injured in 780 crashes during the Christmas holidays every year.

  • On Vancouver Island, an average of 40 people are injured in 150 crashes during the Christmas holidays every year.

  • In the Southern Interior, an average of 40 people are injured in 170 crashes during the Christmas holidays every year.

  • In the North Central region, an average of 40 people are injured in 150 crashes during the Christmas holidays every year.

*Christmas holidays is defined as 6pm on Christmas Eve, December 24 to midnight on Boxing Day, December 26.

Media contact:

Lindsay Olsen

BC Court of Appeal – Losing Control on Shoulder of Road is Prima Facie Negligence

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

| Dec 20, 2017 |

In today’s case (Gaebel v. Lipka) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle operated by the Defendant.  The Defendant drifted on to the shoulder of the road then “lost control, the vehicle fishtailed, crossed the road to the opposite side, travelled up onto an embankment, launched into the air and rolled over three times before landing.”.

The claim was dismissed at trial with a finding the Defendant was not negligent.  The Court of Appeal overturned this finding and provided the following reasons:

[29]         In my view driving onto the shoulder and losing control of the vehicle gives rise to a prima facie inference of negligence. On this evidence, the only reasonable inference that can be drawn was that Mr. Lipka drove on the shoulder either because of a lack of attention or because he approached the curve too fast, or both.

[30]         Once a prima facie case of negligence is proven, the onus shifts to the defendant to rebut the inference through the defence of explanation. A defence of explanation is an explanation of how the accident may have happened without the defendant’s negligence: Singleton v. Morris, 2010 BCCA 48 at para. 38.

[31]         In this case, Mr. Lipka has advanced no explanation as to how the accident may have occurred absent negligence on his part. The lack of an explanation distinguishes this case from cases such as Singleton and Nason, in which the trial judges found the prima facie case of negligence had been rebutted.

[32]         In the result, I find the respondents are wholly liable for Mr. Gaebel’s damages.