Insurance

Going round in circles….

Traffic
There has been a great deal of discussion in the media lately regarding dangerous traffic intersections in YYC. There are a number of reasons why some intersections are more problematic than others. Increased traffic demands exceeding designed capacity, aging infrastructure, confined space preventing larger intersections, topography, poor drainage, glare from sunlight, etc to name a few.

Traffic circles, or “roundabouts” as our friends across the pond like to call them, are becoming increasingly more common here in Calgary. For a lot of us when we think of traffic circles we think of Clark W Griswold stuck driving around the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in London for hours… “ Look kids!  Big Ben, Parliament!”

While traffic circles may seem daunting to some, the truth is traffic circles are a safer, and more efficient way of moving traffic. A recent study showed that traffic circles provide the following benefits:

  • A 37% reduction in overall collisions
  • A 75% reduction in injury collisions
  • A 90% reduction in fatality collisions
  • A 40% reduction in pedestrian collisions

There are some key reasons for these results.

  • Lower travel speeds. Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering the traffic circle. Speeds in the circle are typically 15-30km/h so when a collision does occur it’s typically minor and causes fewer injuries due to lower speeds.
  • No light to beat. Traffic circles are designed to promote a continuous flow of traffic. Because of this flow it eliminates drivers racing to catch the green, or panic braking on yellows and reds.
  • One way travel – roads entering the circle are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection and help them travel around the circle. The curved roads eliminate the possibility of T-bone and head on collisions.
  • Traffic circles are more effective during power outages as there is no dependence on traffic lights.

From an insurance perspective traffic circles are a great alternative to signal and sign controlled intersections. There are fewer accidents, and those that do occur have a much lower likelihood of injury.  Reducing the frequency and severity of auto insurance claims helps to keep insurance premiums low ensuring everyone can access the coverage they need.

Let’s just hope we don’t wind up with traffic circles like England’s 7 circle magic roundabout in Swindon.

Happy travels!

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Insurance

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.

Sources:

https://www.insurance-canada.ca/2017/09/07/icbc-distracted-driving-deaths/

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/distracted-driving-resulting-in-nearly-twice-as-many-deaths-as-impaired-opp-1.3050230

http://www.ibc.ca/qc/auto/risk-management/distracted-driving

https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT208090