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Self- Driving Vehicles: The Good and the Bad

In today’s world many companies in the automotive industry are expending a significant amount of time and resources on self-driving vehicles.

Reports from the United States have analyzed the impact of self-driving vehicles in regards to fatal traffic accidents. The reports have shown that self-driving vehicles could reduce fatalities on the road by 90 percent. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, there are several things that are impeding the transition to a fully self-driving road.

Recently, a self-driving Uber got into a deadly crash with a pedestrian in Arizona. This is the first known death of a pedestrian by a self-driving vehicle. The Uber vehicle was headed northbound when a 49-year-old woman was struck while pushing a bicycle across the street. She was rushed to the hospital, but sadly succumbed to her injuries and passed away. This incident has resulted in corporations slowing down their road testing and has contributed to the public’s lack of confidence in technology. To read the CTV news article, click here.

Furthermore, these self-driving vehicles have built-in algorithms which may further deter the general public. An example of a built-in algorithm is the ability the car has to avoid a group of pedestrians by driving off the road, thus putting the driver and passengers in the vehicle at risk. The general public will be hesitant on purchasing a vehicle that will put their own life at risk in order to save others.

Theoretically, self-driving vehicles will benefit the public. However, unless they are fully implemented, there will always be human error. For the reasons set out above, there is a significant amount of hesitation in fully adopting these self-driving vehicles.
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Driving Into Sun Glare

It’s no secret that Ontario sees all kinds of weather conditions. Weather fluctuation can affect driving safety. As spring approaches and with summer around the corner, sun glare becomes an issue for drivers. Sun glare is at times blinding. It can and does contribute to motor vehicle accidents that have devastating and at times fatal results (see "Police investigating sun glare in fatal Port Hope collision").

In hopes of helping drivers navigate safely in sunny conditions, we have prepared a list of tips for avoiding and dealing with sun glare:

  • Keep your windshield clean: as counter-intuitive as this might seem, the particles on a dirty windshield intensify the glare as opposed to blocking it. A film can also develop on the inside of the glass, making sunny days trickier. Make sure that both the interior and the exterior of your windshield are kept clean to minimize the glare.

  • Be mindful. One of the most dangerous attributes of sunrise/sunset glare is that it comes up so suddenly. However, it is up to you to make sure that you are prepared for it, so keep your eyes focused farther down the road, and be aware when you are turning into the sun.

  • Drive defensively. Adjust your speed when driving into the sun, and understand that other drivers may also slow down significantly, or even stop suddenly. Leaving a larger gap between you and the car in front of you will also help to keep everyone safe.

  • Keep a set of polarized sunglasses handy: these sunglasses can protect your eyes from the sun’s glare, and can just be kept in your car within reach for these occasions.

  • Additional visors — pulling your visor down to combat strong sun glare is an option available to all drivers, but you can also purchase additional, temporary visors to use. If you decide to use one, just be sure to test it out first, as they can also block your view as well.

  • Use headlights — even during very bright days, having headlights on can help you be more visible to other drivers.
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Construction Zone Hazards

Across Ontario, there were 1,694 collisions in construction zones in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available). In 2015 alone, there were 8 reported deaths caused by construction zone car accidents. The aftermath has been stricter law enforcement and awareness campaigns designed to keep workers out of harm’s way. When approaching a construction zone, there are typical precautions that every driver should be aware of and practice:

1. Slow down when you see the cones on the road:
  • Plan your route and allow extra travel time
  • Expect the unexpected and don’t tailgate
  • Slow down to posted speed limits and pay attention
  • Allow extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you

2. Be more aware when you are driving, especially in the presence of the cones:
  • Never use a cell phone or text while driving
  • Follow sign and flag directions
  • Get to know the work-zone signs.

3. Understand that road workers and other people who work in the area are fathers, mothers, friends, etc., and their safety is just as important as anyone else’s. You can show your respect by:
  • Making eye contact
  • Keeping your cool and being patient
  • Slowing down even if you don’t see anyone working. Hazards such as traffic shifts or lane reductions may appear suddenly.

Construction zones are hazardous in nature and car accidents can occur due to:
  • Inadequate or improper signage before a construction zone
  • Unsafe road conditions due to road repairs, heavy equipment and construction debris
  • Unsafe turns, road blockages and lane closures before and after a construction zone, and
  • Failure to protect road workers

It’s important that drivers approach construction zones with caution and acknowledge the associated risks.
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Choosing the Best Car Seat for Your Child

A motor vehicle accident always has the potential of being devastating to both the drivers and passengers of the vehicles involved. We all take steps to reduce injuries: we wear our seat belts; adjust our head-rest or seat; and we maintain our vehicle. Young children will not typically know the safety specs of a vehicle or even the use of a seatbelt. They are, for the most part, completely dependent on their parents or caretakers to ensure their safety.

In Ontario, drivers are responsible and liable for ensuring that all passengers under 8 years old are secured using appropriate restraint systems. It’s important that parents and caretakers make the right choices when it comes to the safety of their child while in their vehicle. When purchasing a child car seat it’s essential that you chose a seat bearing the National Safety Mark from Transport Canada:
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You should always confirm the expiry date of the car seat. Using a car seat past its certified lifespan is extremely unsafe. It’s important that you purchase a car seat from a reputable retailer. Although prices may vary, your child’s safety is at risk and all precautions should be taken. The Ministry of Transportation provides more information here.
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Happy Halloween!

Trick or treat!

It's that spooky time of year again! Children of all ages love Halloween (and by "all ages" we mean adults too!). While everyone wants to have fun, it's worthwhile to take some basic precautions to help ensure the safety of our children. The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs have some great tips to this end. This includes incorporating a flashlight or glow stick into your child's costume, instructing children to walk instead of run, trick or treating along one side of the street and only crossing at an intersection or designated crosswalk, removing trip hazards from your home's entrance, and turning on a light to improve visibility.

Click here to read the Association's full list of suggestions.
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