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!

Not a walk in a park(ing lot)

Opinions_Parking Space

The problem with hoarding parking spaces

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. September 30, 2014

Unless you have paid to reserve a spot to park your vehicle, you have no right to block a space on a public road with a lawn chair, a traffic cone, or an empty milk jug.

While some residential street parking requires a visible permit, many others don’t. This can cause unpredictability for those who drive to and from work. Drivers tend to have little patience to seek out an empty spot; so instead, they will just mark one as their own. Parking spaces are a limited commodity, especially in neighbourhoods where homes don’t have driveways, and garages are used as multi-purpose storages and home fitness centres. With each family having an average of two cars, the streets can become crowded, causing people to wrongfully reserve public property.

While homeowners will argue that the property immediately in front of their house belongs to them, that is untrue. The area belongs to the city and that means anyone in the city can use it. Although the “No Parking” sign people buy from dollar stores is forthright, it often ushers a tone of entitlement, instead of asking for others to be considerate. Perhaps—in Canadian fashion—there should be “Please, I had a long day at work and would like to just get home with as little effort as possible” signs available at Dollarama. Alas, there are not. And unless it’s a government-issued sign, it doesn’t have any authority.

Private or reserved street parking in residential areas do not exist in this city. It doesn’t matter what sign or obstruction you have, you cannot claim a space that doesn’t belong to you.

Street parking is completely legal, and if you see someone who has placed objects on the road to assert their territory, throw them in the trash, because that is littering. With that being said, drivers should also know that according to Vancouver’s city bylaws, a vehicle may only be parked in front of a stranger’s house for a maximum of 72 hours, unless signage states otherwise.

I understand that having someone else parked in front of your house feels like a violation of your privacy, but it isn’t. You live in a community with people who have equal rights as you. The same way you don’t have a reserved spot on the bus or SkyTrain when you get on board, you cannot have a reserved parking space on a public street.

Driving is all about sharing the road, but just as important, it should also be about sharing parking spots. So what? Walk a little for once.

How to Get Your Parents to Buy You a New Car

 

Posted by  | July 31, 2014 | 
Originally published on Unhaggle.com 

Transformers-crop

Your parents, they love you. They want the best for you. They raised you and bought you clothes, food and video games, but why aren’t they buying a new car for you when you’ve asked? And they are not even willing to buy you an old one either!

You’ve negotiated and made the loose bargains you’ve been making your whole life: “I’ll get straight A’s!”, “I’ll do the chores!” or “I’ll take care of you when you’re old!” But those aren’t working. Perhaps it’s time to grow up and approach this tactfully. Think: What would an adult do?

Pick the Car You Want and Explain Its Benefits

 

Prove your maturity by doing research. Not only will it show your family that you are knowledgeable, but you might also impress them with all your added automotive expertise.

If your parents are hesitant, which they probably are, then you should suggest several vehicles that will ease their nerves and make them reconsider. Select several cars and highlight their safety features, comfort level, fuel economy and price.

Most vehicles these days come with state-of-the-art safety technology, so it wouldn’t hurt to know what electronic stability control does and why anti-lock brakes are important. If you want to really show off your chops, list all the IIHS Top Safety Picks and pinpoint the vehicle you want on the list. Nothing is more important to your parents than your safety, so be sure to leverage that!

Gas prices are on a pretty consistent rise, insurance is always more expensive than it should be and cars aren’t cheap either. With that in mind, beggars can’t really be choosers, so demonstrate to your parents that you can be financially responsible. After researching affordable cars, you’ll notice that not every vehicle has the lavishness of a Lexus, Porsche orBMW, but they can still get you places and isn’t that the important thing? A car should not be a status symbol unless you have earned it yourself.

Convince Them That You’ll Pay Your Share

 

Nobody likes a spoiled brat, not even your parents, so pay back the good deed. Your mom and dad may take some convincing, but if you can show off your budgeting capability, not only will you get a car, but your family will have a piece of mind too.

Start by paying for the gas you use, move up to the monthly insurance and then, hopefully, over time, you’ll be able to take over the financing or lease. If the car breaks down, if you get a ticket or if your friends make a mess in the backseat, it is your job to clean up that mess. Please don’t let your mom solve all your problems. Admit it, your parents work hard because they don’t deserve to worry about another set of payments. So, anything you can chip in would be great – and make sure you do.

This might mean getting a job on the weekend or after school. Heck, you might even be able to drive to work and show off your ride. All of a sudden, you look a little bit more like the adult you totally are. Understand that a car is not only a wonderful alternative to the bus, it is also a huge responsibility. You’ll need to clean it, take it to maintenance and of course, be responsible while driving it.

Make Your Car Useful and Promise to Follow Rules

 

My late Uncle Ben once told me: “With great power comes great responsibility.” I always heed those words, and so should you. If you have a car, it is your duty to use it to not only make your life better, but to make your whole family’s life better too.

By sharing the vehicle with your loved ones, you’ll better convince your parents that you actually deserve it. So, why not give your sister a ride to the party? Why not help your mom pick up groceries at the store? Or why not drive your dad to the doctor’s office instead of simply driving him mad? The car shouldn’t just change your life, it should change everyone else’s too – and for the better.

Yes, you’re helping out, but when you do have the car for your own time, be sure to follow the rules; rules that you and your parents have agreed upon initially, before the trip to the dealership, before you put the key into the ignition and before you go cruising down the road.

You should be the one who approaches your parents with the rules. Write them down on paper and make them official – parents love official stuff. Whether you deserve a curfew, restrictions on where you drive or the freedom to have food in your car are up for you and your parents to decide. But, once the rules are set, regardless of what they are, be sure to follow them. As soon as you break a rule and your parents catch you, the trust is lost – and the same might happen to your car privileges.

You deserve a car. But, if you want to drive, you’ll have to prove it.

Unhaggle | 8 Fundamental Questions to Answer Before Driving Abroad

Researched and ghostwritten by Elliot Chan for Unhaggle.com | April 30, 2014 |

international-driving-permit

When travelling in another country, driving offers a lot of freedom; you are not tied down to the unusual transit system and you don’t have to worry about haggling with the local cab drivers. You can just simply get into your heavily insured Volkswagen Passat and head off to the next part of your adventure.

Still, before you get too excited about exploring the parts unknown, make sure you address a few important aspects of driving abroad. While some countries follow the same codes as we do in North America, many other places operate by the theory of natural selection: survival of the fittest. Different terrains, different laws and different styles of driving can often stress newcomers, so ask yourself some key questions before you step behind the wheel.

Do you need an international driving permit?

Depending on the country you are visiting you might need to apply for an international driving permit before you depart. As a Canadian driver, you may find that many countries will honour your licence, but be aware that language barriers, amongst other legal reasons, may cause it to be invalid. An international driving permit is available in 10 different languages and it should accompany your native licence in addition to your passport when you rent a car abroad. Should an accident occur or if a local officer pulls you over, having an international driving permit may save you from a lot of trouble. You can learn more about this here.

Is the car a right-hand or a left-hand drive?

The classic problem that arises for globetrotting drivers is the reversal of the road pattern and the driver seat. In North America our steering wheels are on the left-hand side of the car and we drive on the right-hand side of the road. But if you are visiting Britain, Thailand, Australia or 71 other nations, you must adjust to their mirrored standard. The common mistake for drivers new to those countries occurs when they are making left-hand and right-hand turns. Because a right turn will result in the car being in the left lane and left turn in the right, many accidents happen in that moment of misremembering and relying on old habits.

Are there any dangerous road conditions to be aware about?

High mountain ranges, recent flooding and lack of maintenance may lead a lot of dangerous stretches of roads. If you are choosing to drive in Africa, the Middle East or Latin America, be cautious not only of narrow mountain passes, large pot holes, but also of bandits and local criminals impersonating law enforcements. Night-time driving through rural areas should be avoided, simply due to the nature of being in a developing country where medical response is limited and vulnerability to illegal activity is much higher than at home. Simply maintain a safe speed so you can see possible obstructions and avoid hazardous scenarios due to the lack of safety features.

Are there any tolls?

Toll roads are very common abroad; it’s a necessary means of sustaining the integrity of the road and reducing congestion. There isn’t much to them, expect that you should always be prepared to pay. Some countries have automatic tolling technology, but many still require the old-fashioned method. Don’t hesitate to ask ahead about tolling charges when you head onto a highway – being prepared will buy you some time.

Will you be driving through a restricted area?

In Europe, restricted driving areas are quite common and driving through them may result in a fine. The reason for this is often to reduce traffic and pollution. But other restrictions may also be unfamiliar to foreigners as well, including no honking zones, no driving lanes and also unmarked private properties. To avoid ending up where you don’t want to, plan out your trip and the route you intend to take beforehand.

Do the locals have bad habits?

We might criticize those bad drivers at home for signaling too early or not at all, but in other countries the lawlessness and bad habits of the local drivers is the cause of utter pandemonium. When it’s a free-for-all on the road, driving becomes quite different—and if you are brave enough to operate a vehicle on some of those dangerous roads, then you should definitely be conscious of the cultural driving habits. You can learn which countries have the worst drivers in this article.

Should you be aware of suicidal wildlife?

Jaywalking animals are a danger that many drivers should be aware of regardless of the country. When crossing national parks, nature reserves or simply far-from-urban places keep an eye out for animals that may jump out at you without warning. Hitting an animal may damage your vehicle, cause severe injuries and it may even be illegal, depending on the animal.

Are you driving across a border?

Every border is unique, but the experience is usually always unnerving. Be sure to do some research into the border in which you intend to cross. Understanding the norm will help you avoid time-consuming measures and the risk of being charged unnecessary fees. There are multiple variabilities when crossing an unfamiliar border, so it should not be something done haphazardly. Consider travel visas, materials in your possessions and the purpose of your travel. The penalty for breaking any rules upon approaching a border can be rejection of entry or imprisonment.