If you find yourself in a fender bender, whether or not it was your fault, what should you do next? Because of the nature of insurance and police reports, there are some things you should do at the sight of the collision, and some things you should avoid. Here are a few things to keep in mind, should you ever find yourself in this situation.
Toronto police have recently changed the way they are responding to traffic collisions. In the last year alone, they arrived at the scene of approximately 64,000 traffic accidents within the city limits, which is an increase of 6,000 from two years previously. About 70% of these calls were for minor fender benders, and did not require police presence.
If you operate commercial vehicles in Ontario, you are subject to the rules of Ontario’s Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) system and the Carrier Safety Rating (CSR) Program. These systems are in place to maintain the safety of Ontario’s roads by rating and inspecting commercial vehicles and drivers. As an operator, there many aspects of your CVOR rating you need to be aware of. The following information is good to know in general, but especially useful if you find yourself charged with a traffic infraction or offence.
What constitutes a commercial vehicle?
HOV lane chaos in Ontario! Yes we get it, people are very upset that the province of Ontario has temporary amended the rules on High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes for the 2015 Pan Am games, set to kick off on July 7, 2015. And in the lead up to the games, we agree, it must be super frustrating sitting in traffic watching a completely free lane go unused! However, Ontario drivers have been getting dinged hard in the past few days, as the OPP cracks down on HOV lane violations. To best arm you this Pan Am season, here are the facts about HOV lanes in Ontario:
Temporary HOV lanes will be open to:
- accredited Games vehicles used to transport athletes, media, technical officials etc.
- motor vehicles with 3+ occupants (from June 29 – July 27)
- motor vehicles with 2+ occupants (from July 28 – August 18)
- emergency vehicles
- public transit
- licensed taxis
- airport limousines (on provincial highways only)
- electric vehicles with green licence plates (on provincial highways only)
- motorcycles (on City of Toronto roads only – Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner, Lake Shore Blvd.)
- Temporary HOV lanes will operate from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and will be clearly marked with signs and pavement markings. source: http://bit.ly/1RSkcfk
Here are 6 easy to forget driving safety tips for motorists to consider as they head out this spring:
1. Mind the Bikes!
As the weather warms this naturally brings out more motorcyclists and cyclists than in the winter months. Every motorist must ensure they have proper vision techniques and that they stay focused on the other vehicles around them. Looking out for and respecting two-wheeled travellers is an important part of safe motoring. Be especially careful when turning and opening the door of your parked vehicle before exiting it.
2. Warmer Weather Can Still be Hazardous
Realize that a wet road can be just as slippery as an icy one. Cars travelling at high speeds can hydroplane and lose contact with the road, which is as dangerous as hitting ice. Spring precipitation can also cause oil and gas run off from vehicles to rise to the top of the water surface, increasing the risk factor. For additional safety, drive in the middle lane, as water tends to pool in the outer lanes.
3. Leave a Little Extra Space
Staying farther back from the vehicle in front of you will reduce the probability of being rear ended or hit by kicked-up rocks in front of you. Increasing the distance between you and the vehicle you’re following in the rain is critical. Three seconds is generally considered a safe distance in normal circumstances. During a storm, increase this to eight seconds. The three-second rule is a simple way to double-check that you are driving at a safe following distance. Choose a fixed point (like a road sign or marker) that is even with the car in front of you. If you reach that same fixed point before you can count to three, then you’re driving too close to the car in front of you and you need to fall back a bit.
4. Keep Your Head on a Swivel
Spring is national Pothole Season in Canada. This is the time of year when drivers can experience wide fluctuations in road temperatures and freeze and thaw cycles. This combination causes potholes to form. In those places that snow and ice have dominated the winter months, the spring thaw can cause dangerous potholes. Avoid these at all costs however check your blind spots! If hitting a pothole is unavoidable, don’t simply slam on the brakes while traveling over them. Slow down, release the brake before impact and go over the pothole. Braking causes your tire to slam into the edge of the pothole with more force than if you were to roll over the hole.
5. Don’t Forget Your Shades at Home
The shift in daylight’s saving time may mean that you’re now driving to or from work while the sun is rising or setting. Make sure you have a good a pair of sunglasses in the car and avoid getting blinded by the light.
6. Check Wiper Blades
This winter’s worth of snow, ice and salt has likely put a good beat down on your vehicle’s wipers. We would highly suggest replacing these. Also, ensure that your windshield and other car windows are cleaned with a proper window washer to improve wiper performance.
Many companies continue to provide cars for business travel and a growing number of businesses have reimbursement programs in place for their employees that use their own vehicles for company business activities. In this case, employees are generally reimbursed three different ways, flat kilometers, fixed periodic reimbursement, and automobile standard costs.
Many provide a flat allowance per km plus reimbursement for any additional charges like parking expenses, highway tolls, or even parking tickets. The big advantage of this type of reimbursement is that it is easy to administer both for the accounting side and also for the office manager to regulate. The problem is that this system can be inaccurate which could result in the employee either overpaying or underpaying for their car related expenses. Keeping track of expenses in this way with receipts is a relatively effective means of getting fair reimbursement and also for firms to show transparency in their car expenditure.
Fixed Periodic Reimbursement:
Some firms reimburse their drivers with an even more simplistic method. The fixed periodic reimbursement model simply allocates a fixed amount of car allowance per day, week, and/or month. The advantage to this is that is a clearly communicated benefit of the role or title within the organization, which can be broken down in terms of its dollar value. The disadvantage to this is that is highly inaccurate and could result in the abuse of the benefit. For example, if a person has a car expenditure allowance of $50/day but hardly uses it, they may feel obligated to use the funds allocated in fear they may be reduced or taken away in the future.
Automobile Standard Costs:
There are some examples of companies who have taken action to better measure the costs associated with driving for work related activities. Some companies like CarDATA Consultants Inc. (link) provide their employees with fair and accurate reimbursement based on their regional vehicle service and location data. By tracking the vehicles that are being used for business purposes, the head office can easily and accurately determine the vehicle related expenses and add those funds to the employee’s next paycheck in the form of reimbursement.
If you own and operate your own business and periodically use your personal vehicle for business, you are able to write off some of your annual driving costs as business expenditure. It would be strongly advised where possible to keep personal auto expenses separate from that of business. Keeping receipts and a detailed log of KM’s is always a wise idea not only for employees to get back fair reimbursement but also for business owners to show transparency to the Canada Revenue Agency if they ever ask. For complete details on tax deductions for your vehicle and its use for business purposes, we encourage you to seek the professional advise of an account or a represent of the CRA.
When driving cross-border you might be tempted to cut the long drive short by going over the speed limit. After all, you’re just coming into the U.S for a quick visit, maybe just a short weekend getaway or shopping trip. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that any traffic tickets you get while in the U.S are invisible. Canada and the U.S have a reciprocal relationship when it comes to traffic violations. This means if you get a ticket in the U.S, specifically the states of New York and Michigan, you could see demerit points on your Canadian driving record.
What to do if you’re Pulled Over in the U.S?
Behave in a respectful manner as you would if you were being pulled over in Canada; signal, pull over to the shoulder, and have your licence and registration ready to show the officer. Do not dismiss the ticket or the officer simply because you are not a U.S resident.
Pay the Fine or Fight the Ticket?
Many Canadians assume paying the fine is less of a hassle because they don’t want to travel to take care of the ticket. We strongly suggest not accepting the ticket and just paying the fine. This would mean you plead guilty for the offence and your Canadian driving record could accrue demerit points. Contact X-Copper and we can discuss your options to fight the ticket.
Could my Insurance be affected by an Out of Province Ticket?
Absolutely! Any conviction you receive out of province or in the states of New York and Michigan could result in demerit points placed on your record. Those demerit points have the same repercussions as if caused by an in-province offence. In order to avoid higher insurance premiums it is advised to not ignore your tickets or to assume a guilty plea automatically without discussing your options.
Some examples of traffic offences outside Ontario that will add demerit points:
• failure to obey a stop sign
• failure to obey a signal light
• failure to stop for a school bus
• failing to remain at or return to the scene of an collision
• careless driving
So if you’re planning on hitting the road cross-country or to the United States we suggest taking extra caution. If you’d been hit with an out of province ticket call X-Copper at 1-888-XCOPPER to discuss how we can help fight your ticket.
Aggressive driving and road rage are on the rise in Ontario. According to a recent Ipsos Reid survey, “Canadian drivers are increasingly annoyed by construction projects, fellow motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.” The survey also found that a significant percentage of motorists had been on the receiving end of discourteous behavior. “As many as 82 percent of those surveyed had encountered a driver who failed to signal, 73 percent had been tailgated and 63 percent hadn’t been allowed to merge into traffic.”
Aggressive-driving behaviours, such as speeding, failing to give the right-of-way, tailgating, and cutting off someone too closely, may cause other drivers on the road to become frustrated and angry thus contributing to a potential road-rage fueled conflict between drivers.
“Aggressive or careless driving such as cutting off other drivers, speeding, tailgating, talking on cell phones and not using proper signals is almost always what incites road rage,” said John Vavrik, a psychologist with ICBC.
An angry driver may attempt dangerous retaliatory action. Avoid becoming angry on the road by following these tips:
1. Know what makes you stressed while driving and combat it by getting fresh air, breath and count to ten, or listen to relaxing music
2. Make a conscious decision to leave your issues behind you when driving
3. If you are on a long road trip, take a break from driving every few hours
4. Don’t challenge or instigate another drivers, or retaliate for what you believe to be aggressive driving behaviour
5. If someone else’s driving annoys you, don’t try to prove a point to the person. Leave that to the traffic enforcement police
6. Don’t take the mistakes and driving behaviours of others personally
7. Avoid laying down the horn at other drivers, unless absolutely necessary for safety concerns like potential collisions. A light tap on the horn is usually sufficient to signal the other driver.
Remember that if you are a courteous and respectful driver, you are less likely to find yourself in a road rage situation. To reduce those occurrences when a driver is lost and more likely to increase the road rage of others around them, plan your route in advance. Be polite and let other drivers in front of you when they are signaling that they would like to do so. And most importantly, remember that we all share the road, let’s be respectful to each other and avoid collisions or arguments that will just further anger and upset everyone involved.
Ah, long weekends. Family, friends, and an extra day off work…it all seems so nice. Until you remember that you first have to get there; to the same general area that everyone else is going and at the same time that everyone else wants to get there. It’s the perfect storm for congestion, frustration, traffic stops, and tickets. To help you get the most out of your long weekend we have compiled not one but two lists for surviving the long weekend drive! The first list is 3 quick tips to help you get there and the second one is more of a how-to if you’re pulled over by police. Hopefully, this will help you get to where you need to go as quickly and safely as possible.
To begin, here are:
The #1 cause of Ontario driving fatalities probably is not what you think it is. If you haven’t seen the statistic report yet, the Ontario Provincial Police say that 78 people died in distracted driving-related collisions in 2013, compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed-related deaths. In total, the OPP also laid nearly 19,000 distracted driving charges in 2013, compared to 16,000 in 2012. Since 2010, there have been 325 people killed in Ontario because of distracted driving. According to the OPP, distracted driving is the most dangerous driving behaviour and it appears to only be getting worse.
In response to this, the chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice has been busy implementing a hike to the distracted driving fine. The current fine for distracted driving is $155 but beginning on March 18th, the penalty will increase by over one hundred dollars. If you are caught driving while distracted from that date onward you will be expected to pay a $225 fine, $50 victim surcharge, and $5 court fee. That total ticket will end up costing you $280.00, making it one of the highest fines for distracted driving in Canada.
Police are not required to prove that a cell phone or any device with a display screen that is unrelated to driving is/was in direct use while driving. All that has to be determined by an officer is that it was in your hand and/or your eyes were on the device or screen rather than the road. It’s not just cellphones that police are blaming for an increase in distracted driving. Some drivers have been stopped for holding and using their MP3 players and even watching a television show/movie on their laptops or tablets.
To break it down, unless legally parked, drivers can be fined for:
• Holding a cell phone, regardless of intent to use it
• Using a cellphone to talk or text message (unless calling emergency services)
• Manually programming a GPS (voice command is allowed)
• Viewing the screen of any tablet, computer screen, etc.
Of course, like any law, there are those drivers who are somewhat exempt and it is useful to understand what they are:
• Law enforcement officers as well as firefighters and paramedics are allowed to use handheld devices and their display screens while on duty
• Taxi drivers and couriers are still allowed to use their two-way radios while working
• Public service workers such as transit and highway maintenance workers
• If you are using a Bluetooth device and voice activation to make a call
• All drivers are still allowed to have a GPS in use and view the screen provided they are not programming it while driving and the screen is not impeding their view.
Remember – the cost of a distracted driving ticket is going up on March 18th and while we would never recommend that you drive while distracted, if you have been ticketed for this offence make sure to contact X-Copper to see how we can help.
This is an evolving story. As Apple is getting set to release CarPlay into select Volvo cars with plans to also release it with Ferrari and Mercedes Benz, new issues about what constitutes distractions while driving are bound to emerge and complicate things even more. One thing to consider is whether it is actually going to make using the apple interface less distracting or is it just a new and larger interference? Will CarPlay be a solution or just more of the same?