Driverless Cars Now Allowed on Ontario Roads

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek has announced that, as of Jan. 1, participants in Ontario’s automated vehicle pilot program can test driverless cars on public roadways, under strict conditions.

The program’s nine participants – including BlackBerry’s QNX, Magna, Uber and the University of Waterloo – are currently testing 10 vehicles, but aren’t yet using fully driverless ones.

Yurek also announced that members of the public will be able to drive “Level 3” conditionally automated vehicles, which manage most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.

The Progressive Conservative government says it isn’t aware of any such vehicles for sale in Canada yet, but once they become available, they will be allowed on Ontario roads.

The changes were first proposed last year by the previous Liberal government.

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/driverless-cars-are-now-allowed-on-ontario-roads-1004151104/

Snow Removal is Everyone’s Responsibility – Mike Holmes

Canadian weather can seem a bit unpredictable. One minute it’s sunshine and warm weather. Next thing you know we’re hit with a snowstorm. Don’t let the occasional spring-like day fool you — we are still in the middle of winter. And when you consider that insurance claims for damages related to winter storms can run into the thousands, knowing how to deal with ice and snow around your house is just smart.

One of the first things I tell homeowners is to keep snow away from foundation walls. The moisture from snow melting can slowly seep in. Remember, concrete is porous. So when you shovel your driveway, walkways and sidewalks, shovel snow away from the perimeter of your home. And make sure fire hydrants, gas meters and dryer vents aren’t covered by snow.

Enough snow on the wrong roof could cause it to collapse. The funny thing is that you want your roof to have snow. If the snow doesn’t melt, your attic insulation is doing its job. But if there’s too much snow and ice the roof can collapse. Flat roofs are especially vulnerable. Some municipalities even ask homeowners to remove snow from flat rooftops, overhangs and gutters — especially if the area has been hit with a few snow and ice storms.

Some homeowner will use roof snow shovels to remove the snow. These shovels are designed reach the roof from the ground so you’re not climbing up on the roof and risking a fall. But shovelling your roof from the ground also has its risks: One, you could damage your shingles. And two, the snow could come down on top of you.

If you need to remove snow or an ice dam from your roof call a professional contractor who regularly deals with these kinds of problems.

Most people worry about injuries happening on their property — and they should. You’re responsible for taking the proper precautions, because if someone gets hurt as a result of your negligence, you’re in trouble. That includes injuries caused by falling icicles, slips and falls. These are so common that there’s even an insurance category called “slip and fall” cases.

And if you think you’re off the hook because you’re a renter — you’re not. In some Canadian jurisdictions there’s legislation that includes “duty of care.” What that means is that the occupier of a home — it doesn’t matter if they’re just renting — needs to make sure the property is safe for anyone who has to enter it, such as the mailman or utility service reps.

Snow and ice are slipping hazards — everyone knows this. But shovelling might not be enough. You also need to think ahead. If the temperature drops below freezing or you know a storm is headed your way, apply a de-icer on your driveway, walkway and sidewalk. Spread as much as your property’s size requires. After the storm, apply more, along with some sand to add traction.

The most common de-icer is sodium chloride — what many people call road or rock salt. It’s the most inexpensive. But there’s also calcium chloride, urea, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride melt ice faster than salt, but they cost more. And calcium chloride is corrosive; it destroys grass roots. Urea and potassium chloride can be found in fertilizer, so they’re safe for your lawn. The problem is that urea can be corrosive, and potassium chloride damages concrete. And that’s not good.

I’m not a big fan of salt, and there are a number of reasons. One, it destroys your grass. Have you ever seen brown patches of grass at the end of driveways and along the sides? That’s because melted snow with salt in it got into the soil. Two, it can make your pet sick. When I take my dog Charlie out for a walk, sometimes he gets salt on his paws. Then when he’s back inside he starts licking them. The next day he’s throwing up.

The third reason is that salt works best only when the ground temperature is above -9C (15F). We’ve certainly seen temperatures lower than -9C this past week. Plus, salt is sensitive to temperature changes. The colder the ground temperature, the less effective it is.

And fourth, salt eats away at brick mortar. I’ve seen brick homes where every year the salt eats away more at the mortar, the voids climbing up from the ground with every passing winter.

I’d rather use sand or gravel over salt because they’re safer natural alternatives. But no matter what de-icer you decide to go with, make sure you read the package and follow instructions.

If you think about the risks, taking care of ice and snow is a no-brainer. Save yourself the trouble and stop any potential injuries Old Man Winter might bring to your doorstep.

Source: https://nationalpost.com/life/homes/mike-holmes-removing-snow-ice-is-everyones-responsibility

Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving can sometimes be a daunting task, especially when conditions are snowy or icy. If road conditions are dangerous, consider making alternate travel arrangements or postponing your trip until conditions improve.

Follow these steps to keep yourself safe and collision free during the next few blustery winter months.

Step 1: Make sure that your vehicle is prepared for winter driving.

  • Winter tires are a good option, as they will provide greater traction under snowy or icy conditions.
  • Keep a snow brush/scraper in your car, along with possible emergency items such as a lightweight shovel, battery jumper cables, and a flashlight.
  • Make sure that mirrors, all windows, and the top of your vehicle, are free of snow or frost before getting onto the road.

Step 2: Drive smoothly and slowly

  • Don’t make any abrupt turns or stops when driving. Doing so will often cause your vehicle to lose control and skid.
  • Driving too quickly is the main cause of winter collisions. Be sure to drive slowly and carefully on snow and ice covered roads.

Step 3: Don’t tailgate.

  • Tailgating becomes much worse in winter weather. Stopping takes much longer on snowy and icy roads than on dry pavement, so be sure to leave enough room between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Step 4: Brake before making turns.

  • Brake slowly to reduce speed before entering turns. Once you have rounded the corner you can accelerate again.

Step 5: Learn how to control skids.

  • When skidding, you actually need to go against your natural instincts and turn into the skid and accelerate. Doing so transfers your vehicle’s weight from the front to the rear and often helps vehicles to regain control.

Step 6: Lights On.

  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

Step 7: No Cruise Control.

  • Never use cruise control if conditions are snowy, icy, or wet, because if your car hydroplanes, your car will try to accelerate and you may lose control of your vehicle.

Step 8: Don’t “pump” the brakes.

  • If your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), do not “pump” the brakes. Apply constant pressure and let the system do its work.

Step 9: Pay attention.

  • Manoeuvres are more difficult to make in the snow. Be sure to anticipate what your next move is going to be to give yourself lots of room for turns and stopping.

Source: https://canadasafetycouncil.org/winter-driving-tips/