Why Drug-Impaired Driving May Be a Huge Problem in Canada

Posted by  | November 04, 2014 |
Formerly published in Unhaggle.com

Why Drug-Impaired Driving May Be a Huge Problem in Canada

Impaired driving is dangerous; it doesn’t matter if it’s caused by fatigue, alcohol or drugs, because you are taking an unnecessary risk one way or another. Although it’s true that drugs, such as marijuana, affect each person differently, it’s also true that from 1999 to 2010 drug-related fatalitieshave almost doubled. The question is why. Here are some theories:

There Are No Proper Regulations

Law enforcers have done certainly much to deter drivers from driving drunk, but they still have trouble discovering and implementing the most effective measure for stopping drug-impaired drivers from grabbing their keys and getting behind the wheel. Canada has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that law officials attend unique drug-recognition training courses. However, the program is not believed to have reached its full potential when it comes to catching and actually convicting impaired drivers.

Many Think It’s Okay to Drive High

While drinking and driving is taboo, driving under the influence of drugs still somehow goes under the radar, and that’s problematic. The attitude of drivers needs to change, especially among younger ones, who have always shown a more carefree mentality when operating a vehicle. In a study conducted by Drug Free Canada, one in three teenagers considers smoking marijuana and driving to be less dangerous than drinking and driving, which is not very comforting. Driving requires a lot of attention, and a sudden lapse of judgement for whatever reason can be deadly on the road.

In order to change this reckless attitude, lawmakers in North America, Australia and certain countries in Europe have implemented a legal limit of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – in some parts of the U.S., it’s five nanograms per millilitre of blood – as well as protocols for officers to perform when they suspect the driver to be under the influence of drugs. One method practiced in Norway and Australia involves requesting oral fluid samples from drivers, which can be obtained with a quick roadside test that involves licking or swabbing of the tongue.

By giving officers more resources to catch drug-impaired drivers, the mentality of people may eventually change.

Drug Users Are Not Punished Enough

There are many reasons why our society frowns upon drinking and driving, and one of those reasons is the fact that the police categorizes the  as a high-priority issue. Why else would they have roadblocks, breathalysers and other sobriety tests? Because drinking and driving is very obviously illegal.

Some political parties believe that the whole penalty system should change so that drug-impaired drivers could receive punishment equal to those who drink and drive. The Transportation Minister of Ontario, Steven Del Duca, believes that implementing roadside suspensions, mandatory education or treatment, an ignition interlock condition and a seven-day vehicle impoundment are some of the first important steps to take in order to convince the public of the severity of drug use.

“And when you look at the statistics, in 2011 for example, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 46 per cent of all collisions involving vehicles that resulted in deaths had individuals who were either under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol,” says Del Duca.

In Canada 2012, however, only 1,126 drug-impaired driving charges were laid, which makes up 2 per cent of all annual impaired driving charges (alcohol-impairment charges exceed 60,000). The inability to confidently confirm impairment on the scene has led to many challenges for those wanting to see an end to drug-impaired driving. This is mainly because the technology used for catching drunk drivers does not work on drug users.

So What Can Help Us?

Law enforcers could definitely benefit from a few technological innovations. Breathalysers have changed the way officers charge drunk drivers, and as such, we need a device that can do the same for drivers who are high. The Cannabix Breathalyser might be the solution. In less than a few minutes, this hand-held device, conceived by BC-based company West Point Resources, can accurately detect whether a person has consumed marijuana or not. Given its success rate, this new technology could also act as another deterrent for anyone who is thinking of using drugs before driving.

Generally speaking, the point is not to argue whether smoking weed is better or worse than drinking a couple of beers – the point is to reduce fatalities. And in order to do that, drivers need to change their mindsets, while politicians and lawmakers have to reconsider their approach and provide law enforcers with better technology. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely doable!

Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen Drivers

Posted by  | August 20, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.
Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen DriversNot every vehicle is a suitable car for a teen or novice driver. Some cars come with a steeper learning curve, more responsive handling and fewer safety features. Those little elements can add up to become a challenging ride for young, inexperienced drivers. So, this is not really about safety only, but the whole package. For information on the most unsafe vehicles currently on the road, be sure to check out our top picks right here.When looking into purchasing the first car for your teenager or yourself, it’s best to choose a vehicle with some familiarity and practicality. Young drivers are prone to distraction and an overwhelming sense of invincibility, so it’s best to keep them humble. Safety is paramount, and some cars are dangerous even for the most seasoned drivers. So, try and steer clear of these death traps or, at least, don’t introduce any young drivers to them.

10. Ford Mustang

Allowing your children to drive the world famous Ford Mustang is like giving them steroids for the road. They’ll love you because it’ll make them look cool, but you might lose them to the dark side forever. The Mustang is a powerful, rear-wheel-drive vehicle that has more power than most can handle. For new drivers who are still learning the rules of the road, it’s best to stay away from a vehicle as defiant as the Mustang.

9. Jeep Wrangler

For many adventurous parents looking for a frugal choice for their outdoorsy children, turning to the Jeep Wrangler may seem reasonable. However, the Wrangler is a notoriously finicky animal when it comes to turns. Prone to flips and barrel rolls when taking corners too quickly, the Wrangler might not be the best choice for young drivers who tend to have heavier feet. Also, it should be mentioned that off-roading should be reserved for more experienced drivers anyway, so if you are considering the Wrangler as a novice, maybe you should reconsider.

8. Any Clunker

Hand-me-downs are a good thing; they breeds tradition, save money and teach modesty. Nevertheless, parents should avoid giving their teenage drivers their old, clunky cars. “Clunker” is a term for any vehicle well past its prime, and the next ignition turn may be the last. If it has a rusty exterior, susceptibility for stalling or lack of safety features from the recent decade, then it’s not an okay gift no matter how you cut it. If you don’t want your children to be stranded on a highway or in worst situations, chip in a bit more and get them something reliable.

7. Dodge Viper

Must I explain why giving a race car to a teenage driver might be a bad idea? I’ll be frank: most roadsters are bad first cars for a young driver, because they are just too unpredictable in regular traffic. The Dodge Viper does not deliver a calming ride, it’s a rollercoaster constantly seeking the next ascension. For young drivers it’s a white-knuckle gripping experience, and that’s not what anybody wants.

6. Hummer H1

If you want to nurture the aggressive, road-hogging bully inside your children, go ahead, buy them the Hummer H1. Sure, you may want your kid to have the utmost protection on the road, which in your mind may mean “bigger is better.” However, the Hummer H1, with its action-movie-like off-roading capabilities, can lead to over-confident driving. Aggressive driving is the result of one in three fatal accidents each year, and it should not be an attribute installed in drivers of any age—especially in young and impressionable ones.

5. Chevrolet Aveo

Economy cars with an egg-shell frame and limited safety features, like the Chevrolet Aveo, are not the best option for young drivers, simply because the highest percentage of road accidents are actually caused by inexperienced drivers. Sure, the Aveo has many endearing qualities that may suit a teenager, such as reliability and reserved power, but having a thin arsenal of safety features is a reason enough to look elsewhere since the car has few other redeeming qualities anyhow.

4. Subaru WRX

The Subaru WRX is a car that gets attention, sometimes from the wrong people. When purchasing a vehicle for a young driver, it’s important to consider the impression the car has on others, especially the police. The WRX is a speedy machine with turbo acceleration that can put your teenager in an unsavoury position. All in all, avoid getting a new driver a vehicle with a turbo engine. The maintenance involved is one thing, but the speed it provides is another.

3. Nissan 300ZX

There was a time when the Nissan 300ZX was the cream of the crop, but now it’s an affordable model that offers the same respectable performance.  Although it’s certainly enticing, the 300ZX isn’t the smoothest-handling vehicle on the used-car market, especially since it’s from a pervious generation. Sure, the old car hasn’t grown up much, but your teenager should.

2. Porsche 911 Turbo

Tame your child’s need for speed early, lest they end up on the side of the road. Giving a teenage driver a Porsche of any kind – let alone a 911 Turbo – is a very bad idea. The turbocharged supercar may be a joy to drive, but as enthralling as it is, the risk level of having an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of this vehicle should worry every other driver on the road. If you do give your teenager a Porsche, warn me – I’ll try to avoid the route he or she may be taking.

1. McLaren-Mercedes SLR

A combination of the expensive, the powerful and the extravagant is obviously a good thing for a young driver, right? It sure is – not! No doubt, the McLaren-Mercedes SLR is a highly-touted vehicle for drivers of all ages, but I wouldn’t want a novice driver behind the wheel the same way I don’t want an inexperienced pilot guiding an airplane through a turbulent storm. Not only does the supercar come with a steep learning curve, it is utterly unforgiving when it comes to errors. Repairs and insurance fees can add up quickly, and that is a debt no young driver deserves.

Unhaggle | Road Obstacles 101: How to Survive a Collision With an Unknown Object

Written and researched by Elliot Chan for Unhaggle.com | May 06, 2014 |
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Worst-case scenario: you are driving your new Escalade when suddenly you feel a bump and then an unsettling scrape against some unseen part of the car. What do you do after? Do you drive off and hope for the best? Or should you pull over and assess the damages to the unfortunate obstruction and your car?

In a world full of construction sites and jaywalking animals, things that could have been avoided sometimes just aren’t. Regardless of what you might crash into, dealing with the result will test your character and aptitude as a driver. We don’t plan for accidents, but we can definitely be prepared for them.

Potholes

Hitting a pothole can be a horrifying endevour. You see it coming up ahead, but there just isn’t enough time to react, so you drive directly into the crater. Your car jolts, while the tires, suspension, rims and everything else all suddenly feel compromised. You drive on, but you know that there is some damage. What now?

While road maintenance is the city’s duty, getting compensation will require you to make an insurance claim, which we have covered in this piece. If you have hit a damaging pothole, be sure to report it so that the road can be repaired as quickly as possible.

Anticipating potholes requires the driver to do a few key things while driving. Be aware of the weather conditions: cold weather often damages the road and rain can form puddles that hide the resulting potholes. Leave some distance between yourself and the car in front, which will allow you some room to see the road ahead. Don’t speed or break too quickly when driving across a pothole. Doing so will increase the damage to your vehicle. So, take your foot off the brakes since it’s the best you can do if a pothole is unavoidable.

Pylons and Traffic Cones

Remember those driving tests with pylons and traffic cones scattered all over the road for us to avoid? Well, nothing has really changed—hitting a pylon is never a good thing. It can cause a minor damage to your vehicle or it can cause major accidents.

Hitting a traffic cone may make it to fly away comically or cause it to get caught under your car or in-between the wheels. Dragging a cone, even for a block, can cause severe damage to your vehicle. So, if you feel the plastic orange cone underneath, pull over and remove it immediately. The top part of the cone may seem fragile, but it is often the heavy black base that causes the damage.

Yes, we all have the temptation to drive through a line of pylons, but hitting them is considered vandalism and you may be charged if your motives are seen as negligence.

Large Wildlife

As we plan for our summer road trips, we must also remember that some highways cut across homes of many large animals, including caribous, moose, deer and even bears. Signs are often posted in areas where wildlife populations are high, but are there more precautions we can take?

We remember the term “deer in headlights”, which refers to the paralyzing fear animals feel when they see our vehicles’ blinding headlights. Odds are – they aren’t going to leap out of the way. If you know you cannot avoid the animal, do not try to maneuver around it—instead, try to brace for impact. Swerving may cause you to flip your car, drive off the road or into oncoming traffic, all of which can lead you to a more compromising scenario.

After you have hit the animal and checked that you are okay, do not approach it since it may still be alive. In a moment of panic, the animal can attack, kick or gore. Remain in your vehicle and report the incident to 911 right away.

Pedestrians

Hitting a pedestrian is every driver’s nightmare. Not only can you be legally liable to the fault, but you can also kill someone. Driving safe in urban, congested areas—like downtown cores and parking lots—are the best measure. Drive passively and defensively; assume that anybody on the sidewalk can jump out in front of you at any time.

But what happens if you do hit someone?

Stop! Hit-and-runs are a severe crime with punishment ranging anywhere from a fine to imprisonment. If you hit someone you must pull over, call for emergency responders and cooperate with law enforcers. Take pictures, exchange information and stay on the scene. From there do not hide evidence or speak unruly or discuss the accident. Contacting an attorney will be a good option at this point to help you through the legal process. For more info, consult this article.

Pets

Remember that pets are someone’s family members. It might be easy to simply drive away after the incident, but it is far from the right thing to do. If you drive away and get caught, you may be charged for cruelty to animals and be taken to court.

If the pet, like a dog for instance, is still alive, then approach it carefully. Injured animals are unpredictable and may attack. Help remove it off the road by muzzling it with a blanket. Then contact the dog owner (information should be available on the pet’s collar) and the police. Bring the animal to the veterinarian as soon as possible. The owner will be responsible for paying the medical bill. If the owner cannot be located, the one who brings in the pet will be responsible.

As for the vehicle, a comprehensive insurance claim will cover the damage by going after the pet owner, who is responsible for their pet in the first place. If the driver does not have comprehensive insurance, he or she can go to the pet owner and file a claim for repair.

Unhaggle | How to Make an Insurance Claim After a Serious Car Accident

Posted by  | January 29, 2014 | 
Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan. View original on Unhaggle.com 
insurance claim

Accidents happen and so must insurance claims. The ebb and flow of traffic lends itself to many unfortunate scenarios and even the safest drivers can find themselves victims of an automobile accident. So, what now? What do you do after you survived  that traumatic event? How can you be sure you’ll avoid any financial loss, in addition to getting the rehabilitation you deserve? Let us walk you through the process!

Stop at the Scene

Don’t panic. Stop and assess the damage to both passengers and the vehicles. If you notice that the total amount of damage to your car is more than $1,000 or if the other driver is guilty of any Criminal Code infractions (i.e. DUI or speeding), contact 911 and follow the instructions given by the emergency operator. The police officer will fill out an accident report when they arrive and offer a copy to all parties involved in the incident.

Don’t drive away until the report is filed. If you flee the scene, you may be subjected to criminal prosecution. Even the most minor accidents require filed documents, whether written by the officer on the scene or when you personally visit a Collision Reporting Centre or nearest police station.

The report should include your insurance policy number, driver’s information, time and location, witnesses and accident situation (weather, speed, road signs, etc.). The police report will also state from the officer’s perspective as to who was at fault.

In addition to the report, be sure to grab the name, address, telephone number and driver’s licence of the other drivers and witnesses involved. Also, it doesn’t hurt to jot down notable facts about the scene, including road conditions and the speed of traffic.

The Acceptance Game

Alert your insurance company. Depending on the circumstances, your rates may not be affected. If they are, they can see the increase anywhere from 6% to 140% (this can be between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per year). Regardless, it is important that you report it. If you do find yourself in an accident where you are at fault, the incident will stay on your record for six to ten years. Although, some insurance companies may offer accident forgiveness for first-time accidents.

In order to complete the insurance claim, an insurance adjuster will contact you. Following the Insurance Act’s rules and regulation outline, the adjuster will determine and assign fault, thus attributing the ratio to the drivers and vehicles involved. This ratio determines how much each party will have to pay or be compensated for in regards to the claim. Such variables included in the claim are proof of loss, injuries or damage to property.

Avoid Further Loss

It’s important to stay calm after an accident. The world might seem to be spinning out of control, but you must assure yourself that everything will be fine. Gather yourself together so you can prevent causing yourself further damages and loss.

Be wary of unauthorized tow truck operators, they may try to implement immediate payment. Before you cough out any more money, ask a police officer for the number of the authorized tow truck company or speak with your insurance company first.

Do not order repairs, except for those needed to protect your vehicle, until the insurer has a reasonable amount of time to inspect the damages. You shouldn’t assume liability.

The insurer’s job is to determine whether your vehicle is worth repairing, or in other words, if the cost of repairs is equal or greater than the value of the car. If it is, then the insurance company might just consider it a total loss, in which case the vehicle will not be fixed and the owner will be charged the amount calculated by the insurance adjuster.

Objection, Compensation and the Aftermath

Of course, disputes are bound to happen when it comes to something as fragile as financial and medical compensation in a post-accident scenario. If you feel that there was an unfair ruling on your incident, you may request a review from your insurance company and have the accident re-evaluated. But before you buy the ticket for another ride, be sure that you have additional information that can influence a change in their decision-making. A third-party reviewer will have another look at the claim, assisting in the adjuster’s decision. But be warned, should the outcome not be in your favour, the claim may be increased. In the end, all must abide by the arbitrator’s decision.

Purchasing collision and all perils coverage may also be an option. This plan will cover loss and damages, should the fault fall on you after an accident.

If you feel you have been victimized of insurance fraud, contact services such as Fraud Hotline of Financial Services Commission of Ontario to help you out.

Remember that in the end it all comes down to safety and preparation. Be a safe driver, but anticipate the worst. Have an emergency kit handy and keep an accident worksheet in your glove compartment. A collision can be a horrific event, but you can reduce the stress and panic if you are ready for it.

Respectful shrines or highway distractions?

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More roadside memorials may equal fewer accidents

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in the Other Press. Jan. 7, 2014

We often see them at intersections and long stretches of highway: roadside memorials set up in remembrance of those lost as a result of traffic accidents and collisions. These shrines commonly take the form of a cross, some flowers, some candles, perhaps a picture of the departed. They give no details of the crash, no signs of the carnage, and there’s rarely even any damage to the roadside. Regardless of the cause, roadside memorials offer people a chance to mourn the loss of a loved one, in addition to cautioning other drivers and reminding them about the dangers of the road.

According to Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics, an estimated 2,227 fatalities occurred on the roads in 2010. These numbers seem meaningless to us as we rush through traffic, disregarding the speed limit signs. Associating numbers with people is not an easy thing to do. People just don’t personify numbers that way, so it’s hard to sympathize with a number. Like Joseph Stalin once said, “The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.”

Some consider roadside memorials to be a distraction; drivers shouldn’t have to feel wary when they navigate through a hazardous stretch of road, they should be focussed on what they need to do, instead of worrying about those who have died. But what better way to remind drivers to stay focussed, than to show the consequences of negligent driving? We often get so concentrated on the things we need to do and the places we need to be that we forget about our morality. After all, the most important thing about being alive is living.

Roadside memorials shouldn’t only be sites for mourning the dead; they should be visual reminders alerting us that we are still alive, and that the safety of us, our passengers, and other people on the road is alive as well. Don’t let the deaths of others be in vain—we should always learn something from the mistakes of others. That way, the story of our lives won’t result in tragedy and our memories won’t wind up in a statistic.

On the highways around Quito, Ecuador, drivers and passengers can often see blue hearts painted onto the road. In Spanish, those blue hearts are referred to as “Corazones Azules,” and each one symbolizes a death upon the road. This campaign was initiated after a school bus crashed in 2007, with very few survivors, to remind drivers to drive safely in all conditions. More than 40 blue hearts now mark the roads of the accident-prone country built upon the lip of the Andes Mountains. Canadians should take inspiration from that idea; small, unobtrusive markings may do more than mere speed limit signs and police radar.

Fines, warnings, and criminal recorders may take those who violate the rules off the streets—but it’s more important to put the humanity back into the drivers. We all have places to go, but for now, let’s avoid the hospital, the morgue, and the cemetery.

Beautiful women a hazard for male commuters

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Traffic accidents increase due to the sexy summer fashion

Formerly published in The Other Press. June 4 2013

By Elliot Chan, Traffic Hazard

Summer is a beautiful time of year, unless you’re a male commuter. Research released early last week by The Men’s Automobile Limitation Experts (MALE) has confirmed that during the summer months, men are 32 per cent more likely to be involved in an automobile accident.

Dr. Carson Donovan, head researcher at MALE, explains the breakthrough discovery: “It’s not that men are bad drivers when it is sunny. They are still far superior,” he chuckles, “It’s just that beautiful women become a greater disturbance. They hide themselves in the winter, and then bam! Summer arrives. Imagine having a stripper pole at every intersection. I won’t give any change to dirty panhandlers, but I’ll drop a dollar for the honey leaving the petrol station. You know what I mean.”

“It is unbelievable how some chicks dress at bus stops,” Dr. Donovan adds with a wink and a masculine elbow nudge. “If we want to protect the safety of our male drivers, they should not be allowed to wear such revealing clothes—even on a sunny day. Sorry boys, but it’s safety first.”

Close behind driving under the influence and excessive speeding, attractive girls at bus stops are the main cause of male-related traffic accidents. Every minute a man across the province is getting injured due to a hot girl sighting.

Benjamin M. Williams, loving husband and a father of two girls, wants the government to make a change. “I am a man that worries about his family,” says Williams, “just the idea of other guys getting distracted by women on the street frightens me. I often drive my daughters to school and I would hate for anyone to get distracted and hit my 2001 Subaru. Beautiful girls should not be allowed to dress so provocatively.”

Dakota Patrice, executive and founder of the Mind Your Own Business, I’m Not A Helpless Woman Foundation had this to say: “Women don’t dress for men to notice them. We dress because we need to wear clothes. Men should just watch where they are going. What? We should wear sweaters when it’s 30 degrees out? We’d get all hot and sweaty.”

When asked to introduce a new dress-code bylaw for female transit users, the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, replied, “Distraction is a natural part of driving. God knows how many times I’ve nearly ran into the car in front of me just because I was watching some dog poop. Stunning girls are just like pooping dogs; you can’t stop them.”