So how big of a deal is distracted driving?

DDDistracted driving continues to be one of the biggest issues facing both drivers and law enforcement today. In fact distracted driving now claims more lives each year than impaired driving.   By August of 2016 Ontario had already seen double the number of distracted driving fatalities as those caused by impaired driving.   British Columbia saw 78 fatalities from distracted driving versus 66 from impaired driving.

Most people will tell you that they are concerned about distracted drivers. They don’t want to be the victim in an accident because someone was looking at their phone.  Yet nearly 75% of Canadians admit to engaging in distracted behaviors while driving.   If 75% of people said they drove while impaired would you still drive?

According to a study done by the Insurance Bureau of Canada a distracted driver may fail to see up to 50% of the available information in the driving environment. You may look but not actually “see” what is happening.  The end result is you’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text while driving and 4 times more likely if you talk on a cell phone while driving.  The study showed that nearly 80% of collisions and 65% of near-collisions involved some form of driver inattention up to three seconds prior to the event.

In Alberta the fine for distracted driving currently starts at $287 and 3 demerit points. On top of this you may face insurance premium increases for the conviction.  If an accident results from the distracted driving your conviction could be upgraded to careless driving, which is a criminal code conviction.  You could then face further possible car insurance premium increases for the conviction and accident.  Depending on the severity of the accident you could be sued, possibly for millions.  You could find yourself in a situation where the lawsuit is higher than the limit of liability coverage on your auto policy.

So what can you do?

Well, if you find yourself driving home tonight and your phone rings or you get a text that just can’t wait find a safe place to pull over. Deal with the message or call, put your phone away, and then go back to giving your full attention to the road.  It’s not just your life you endanger when using your phone while driving.

Some smartphones, like Apple’s iPhone, now offer a do not disturb while driving mode. As soon as the phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth, it disables text notification and sends an automatic response back to the sender advising you’re driving at the moment and will get back to them when you stop driving.





Seeding the clouds


Yesterday some of the staff at Young & Haggis were given the opportunity to visit with the men & women who work for the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society (ASWMS).  These are the individuals responsible for modifying the weather in Alberta in an effort to reduce the size and severity of hail stones. 
The program runs from June 1 to September 15 each year and is paid for entirely by insurance companies who operate in Alberta.  In fact, its the largest privately funded cloud seeding program in the world.
The program costs about $3 million to run each summer.  Sounds like a lot of money right?  Well compared to how much insurers would be paying out on hail claims if this program didn’t exist, it’s a small price to pay.   The program benefits the consumers too, less hail = less insurance claims = less premiums.

You’re probably thinking…” what a waste of money, look at all the hail we’ve had the past 3 years”    You’re right… sort of.   Yes, we have had a lot of hail, but the purpose of the cloud seeding isn’t to stop hail, that’s impossible.  The purpose is to reduce the size and severity of the hail.  One thousand little hail stones is better than one hundred tennis ball sized hail stones. 
Hail suppression works by seeding thunderstorms with billions of silver iodide smoke particles.  These particles act as artificial ice crystals to freeze up the supercooled water drops in the storms updraft.  The billions of ice crystals, formed from seeding, freeze the supercooled water causing the storm to produce smaller hailstones. 

Seeding does not present any environmental or health hazards. Silver iodide salt is a non toxic material.  Silver occurs naturally in soils and many foods. It is also found in our water supplied in very low concentrations.  The amount of silver iodide used when seeding clouds is very small relative to the large quantities of water in the storm.  The aver seeding rates are about 10grams per minute.  That’s equivalent to putting a spoonful of material over Niagara Falls per minute.   In fact rain fall samples were found to contain lower levels of silver than a cup of water stirred with a silver spoon!

ASWMS has been responsible for seeding clouds since 1996.  They use a fleet of 5 aircraft and operate in central & southern Alberta from Rocky Mountain House south to High River.  ASWMS also has a perfect safety record having never had an accident.  This is pretty incredible considering these are small aircraft battling massive storm cells!