Going round in circles….

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!


What you can’t see, can hurt you…


The cold weather has finally returned to Calgary. This means that our furnaces will be running more to keep our homes warm. Make sure your family is safe this winter by having all your fuel burning appliances inspected and your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are all working properly.  Barry from our office recently had a carbon monoxide fright; here’s what he had to say about it:

“The other night I was woken up by the ear piercing sound of our carbon monoxide detector going off at around 2am. Needless to say, that is a sound you do not want to ever hear in your life, let alone in the middle of the night in winter.

It was the alarm right outside of the bedroom. I grabbed it out of the wall and did the exact opposite thing that a person in this situation should do, and assumed it was a false alarm. I pulled the battery out and it shut off. As soon as I put the battery back in, it started beeping again so I gathered my wife, our dog, and my in-laws (staying with us for the holidays) and moved everyone outside to fresh air. My wife called 911 and the fire department was dispatched to our house. They advised us not to go back in, and of course it was cold and we were all in pajamas, so my wife drove the whole gang a few blocks away to my parent’s house to stay warm while I waited for the fire department to show up.

Minutes later two Calgary City fire trucks showed up. I found out later that one was a Hazmat team. They were all business when they arrived and I directed them to where the alarm was plugged in and where it was now. They checked the entire house, starting in the basement (as that is where most carbon monoxide leaks originate) but had no sign of anything on their meters. Hazmat followed up and they couldn’t get a reading anywhere either so…. Good news!!! False alarm!

We had been doing some renovations and there was a lot of dust in the air for a few days which they said could have triggered the alarm… either that or it was just a faulty alarm. We have since replaced that one and still have 4 in the house, two in the basement and two on the main floor. It was quite an experience and I was relieved to hear that we did the right thing by finding fresh air and calling 911. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! “

Remember carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no color, smell or taste. If your detector goes off get your family outside and call 911 right away.

This brings me to the next point. When did you last replace your carbon monoxide detector and smoke detectors?  We are all told to make sure to replace the batteries every time we change the clocks in spring and fall, but that may not be enough.  Both smoke & carbon monoxide detectors have expiry dates.  The average lifespan of these detectors is only 7 years!   If you can’t remember the last time you replaced these units it’s probably time to do it now.   New detectors are not very expensive and you can get combo units that monitor both smoke and carbon monoxide. When you do replace them put a sticker on them with the date you installed them so you know how old they are in the future.