Saturday, October 31, 2009

Three States of Mind for Drivers

As a former racecar driver, advanced driving instructor and more recently the Founder of, I constantly advocate that people take additional courses to learn how to improve their skills. Without a doubt they can be a lifesaver. I've often said that the greatest problem on our roads is a lack of skill and situational awareness, although our behaviour is a huge factor too. Even if everyone had the skills of professional racecar drivers, collisions would still occur if our state of mind were a problem. In my teachings, I make a point to teach drivers such essentials like situational awareness, forward thinking and the techniques of smooth, precise driving. But no matter how good you are as a skilled driver, our state of mind will always play a factor. A bad day at work or a fight with a significant other can change the way we drive.

Ever found yourself driving more aggressively after having a fight with someone at work? Be honest now...we all have. Have you ever given any thought as to how your state of mind actually affects your driving and how your driving affects other drivers around you? Probably not.

Last winter, I sat in on a Winter Driving Course hosted by Ian Law's Car Control School that focused on advanced driving techniques on snow and ice. Ian Law himself is a racecar driver whom I have shared the track with many times and he also writes for Although not imperative to the course, the instructors took the time to discuss the "Three States of Mind" exhibited on our roads, which is a concept that Ian discusses not only in his training course but also in some of his articles. Here I will try to summarize those concepts although with my own twist.

Child State
We see this one all the time. The "Child" drivers are the ones that speed along excessively, weaving in and out of traffic, seemingly without a care in the world or any consideration for other motorists. They are the ones seen cutting people off, tailgating and generally putting everyone (including themselves) at risk of a collision. They believe that the road is theirs and theirs alone and are frustrated that you are in their way. Or worse...think the road is their personal racetrack. If you will forgive the generalization, they are usually younger males who think they are invincible and that they have the skills to perform risky manoeuvres time and time again without any consideration for those around them. They have no sense of personal responsibility for the task of driving a vehicle and are generally want-to-be racers, driving supped up cars or super sport motorcycles. However the only proper place to race is on a racetrack, which is also a foreign concept to "child" like motorists.

Parent State
We see this one a lot too. The "Parents" are the ones that for whatever reason think that it's their job to teach other drivers a lesson of some sort. When someone cuts them off, they will tailgate or worse pass them and cut the "offending" driver off too in an attempt to teach them a lesson. They are also the ones seen "closing the door" on drivers who are attempting to merge into their lane but wait for the last moment to do so, refusing to let them in. "Oh no you don't! You waited too long...I'm not letting you in now". For whatever reason, they feel that they need to enforce their own ideas of the rules of the road. This type of behaviour can be just as dangerous (if not more so) as the "Child" state. When they see a driver behaving dangerously, they tend to add to an already dangerous situation in their attempt to teach others a lesson. This often escalates into road rage, which can in turn become very dangerous, especially when squaring off against "children" who retaliates with their own "I'll show you" attitude. The child becomes a parent too and now two "parents" are going head to head and things only get worse from there.

Adult State
The "Adults" are the ones that, I believe, we actually see the most, although recognize the least. They are the ones that always take a deep breath and think rationally and calmly. These are the drivers that, by their own actions, reduce the number of collisions on our roads because they don't allow dangerous situations to escalate and allow for a dangerous situation to become a safer one. They don't drive recklessly or erratically. When someone cuts them off, they ease off the throttle to open a safe distance and when someone needs to merge into their lane...they let them. These are the safe, courteous drivers on our roads and the ones who should be commended for remaining calm and attentive to their surroundings. They recognize dangerous drivers and give them space and thusly avoid collisions far more often. We see examples of all three each and every day on our roads but we should all try and be "adults". Skill and situational awareness are hugely important but so are our attitudes and behaviours.

So next time you go for a drive or a ride on your bike, ask yourself...what State of Mind are you in?
~~Editors Note~~
Special thanks to Shaun de Jager for this article posted originally on his site;

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Information on Ontario's New Distracted Driving

Ontario’s ban on hand-held devices while driving will took effect October 26, 2009.

The new law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or e-mail using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. The use of hands-free devices will still be permitted.

Following a three-month period that began October 26, where the focus will be on educating drivers, police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010. Police will still have the ability to issue charges that are relevant to exhibited driving behaviours that put the public at risk.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Other studies show that dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities.

Police, paramedics and firefighters will continue to be allowed to use hand-held devices when performing their duties. All drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1.

Under Ontario’s new law, fines of up to $500 can be levied against distracted drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device.

Ontario joins more than 50 countries worldwide and a growing number of North American jurisdictions that have similar distracted driving legislation including Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, California and New York.

Teens and young people under 35 are the most frequent users of cell phones while driving.
For more information, please visit

To help reduce the temptation of distraction by hand-held devices, it is recommended that you should turn off notification alerts beofre driving. It is natural that when a notification is received, people will look at their device. This in itself is a dangerous act and needs to be avoided.

The new law applies only to hand-held wireless communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices. This means drivers must only use wireless devices that can be used in a "hands-free" manner:
- a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialling, or plugged into the vehicle's sound system
- a global positioning system (GPS) device that is properly secured to the dashboard or another accessible place in the vehicle
- a portable audio player that has been plugged into the vehicle’s sound system.

Some wireless devices require that users push a button to activate and/or deactivate the device's "hands-free" function. This activity is permitted under the law.

All drivers
Drivers will not be permitted to use hand-held communication and entertainment devices when driving, with the following exceptions:
Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation
When the driver has safely pulled off the roadway and is stationary or is lawfully parked.
Other devices not included in the ban:
Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
Viewing a display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information to the driver about the status of systems in the motor vehicle.

Emergency response personnel
Police, fire department and emergency medical services personnel will be permitted to use hand-held wireless communications devices and view display screens in the normal performance of their duties.
The use of hand-held radios by amateur radio operators (who provide assistance, especially in emergency situations such as severe storms and blackouts) will be phased out within three years, to allow hands-free technologies to be developed.

Commercial drivers
A small percentage of drivers in transport-related industries (e.g., school buses, taxis, couriers) and public service workers (e.g., transit and highway maintenance workers) rely on the use of certain types of wireless devices and display screen technologies in the performance of day-to-day operations.

To help these businesses stay competitive, Ontario is granting a three-year phase-out period for the commercial use of two-way radios, including mobile and CB radios, to allow for hands-free technologies to be developed.

The new law will not affect mobile data terminals, logistical tracking devices and dispatching devices. They will be exempt for commercial and public service vehicle drivers who are engaged in the performance of their duties.

Hand-mikes (push-to-talk systems) and portable radios (walkie-talkies) may be used in a hands-free mode. This would mean the driver can use a lapel button or other hands-free application as long as the hand-mike or walkie-talkies is not held while driving.

Sample Driver Scenarios
The following four examples show how drivers can make a few simple changes to their everyday routine in order to safely comply with the new law. In all situations, drivers are reminded that driving safely is priority one.

Mark, studentAs a university student, Mark is always on the road: traveling from home to school and hooking up with friends after class. Mark frequently uses his time behind the wheel to send text messages to friends and family.

Under Ontario’s new law, Mark will no longer be allowed to type phone numbers or text messages into his hand-held device. If he needs to talk with friends, he could use an earpiece to talk with his friends in a hands-free manner. While Mark won’t be able to dial his friends’ numbers using his fingers, he may press a button on the base of the device to activate the “hands-free mode”, and then use the voice dialing function to place calls.

Mark can only send text messages if he is safely pulled off the road and is stationary or is lawfully parked.

Debra, marketing managerWhenever Debra’s on the road, she’s on her smart phone: making the most of her long commute to work by responding to important emails as she drives.

Under Ontario’s new law, Debra won’t be able to send emails unless she does so in a hands-free manner. Reading emails from her smart phone’s display screen will also be prohibited. If she needs to send and receive emails, she can do so in a ‘hands-free mode’ that will allow her to dictate and send emails by voice, and have the emails she receives read back to her by the device.

Faisal, weekend travellerFaisal never leaves home without his hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) device. Every weekend, Faisal plots his travel destinations on the device before he leaves home, but often picks up the device to make adjustments as he drives.
He will no longer be permitted to make adjustments on the GPS device while driving, under Ontario’s new law. He can only continue to use his GPS device while driving if he attaches it securely to his dashboard to verify his location. To drive as safely as possible, Faisal should use the device’s voice command function to minimize the need to look at the GPS display screen.

Jackie, music-loverJackie always listens to her MP3 player in the car, and frequently picks up the device to find her favorite driving songs.

Under Ontario’s new law, Jackie can no longer use the MP3 player with her hands. However, Jackie could use the device if it is plugged into her car’s sound system. To use the device in a hands-free manner, Jackie should select her play list before she leaves home. This way, she will be able to push a single button to activate the device while staying focused on the road.

Thanks to for their assistance with this article.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Toronto - Goodlife Fitness Marathon - Road Closure Information

The Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon will take place on Sunday, October 18th, 2009.
This event will create a major disruption to traffic flow for most of the day.
It is highly recommended that if you are coming into the southern part of the city that day, you take public transit.
If you must drive:
-know alternate routes for where you are travelling
-leave plenty of extra time
-consider going well around the immediate route as the entire area will see significant delays.

Date October 18th 2009
Unit Special Events Planning
Phone (416) 808-5086

On Sunday, October 18th, 2009 the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon will host the 15th Annual Marathon. The event will consist of a Full Marathon, Corporate Relay Marathon, Half Marathon and 5km run

Road Closures: 03:30 hours to 16:00 hours

Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon Course Description 2009 Marathon: 9:00 a.m

The Marathon begins behind Mel Lastman Square on Beecroft Ave. Participants run north to Park Home and then turn east to Yonge St. Runners proceed South on Yonge St. to Chaplin, west on Chaplin to Oriole Parkway. South on Oriole Parkway to Lonsdale Rd. West on Lonsdale to Spadina Rd. South on Spadina Rd. around Casa Loma to Macpherson. East on MacPherson to Davenport Rd. and continue to Belmont St. East on Belmont through Yonge St. to Aylmer Ave. South on Aylmer to Rosedale Valley Rd. to Bayview Ave. South to King St. to Sumach St. to Eastern Ave. West on Eastern Ave to Front St and follow to Wellington St. and continue to University Ave. Turn South on University to York St through to Queens Quay. West on Queen's Quay past Stadium Rd. to Remembrance and Aquatic Drives and Martin Goodman Trail to just east of the Humber River. Turnaround going east through parking lot to Lakeshore Blvd W, curb lane e/b to Stadium Road, South on Stadium Road to Queens Quay W to York St and then North on University to the finish line at Queen's Park.

Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon Course Description 2009 Marathon: 9:00 a.m

Start – 09:00
FULL Marathon
Beecroft – E side at Delivery Entrance to 153/155 Beecroft
South of North York Blvd.
North on Beecroft (full road)
To Park Home Ave (full road)
East on Park Home
To Yonge St (all s/b lanes Ellerslie to Alylmer)
South on Yonge St
To Chaplin Cres (half road – north side)
West on Chaplin
To Oriole Parkway (half road – west side)
South On Oriole Parkway
To Lonsdale Road (half road – north side)
West on Lonsdale
To Spadina Road (half s/b lanes)
South on Spadina
To Austin Terrace (half road – west side)
West On Austin Terrace
To Walmer Road (half road – west side)
South on Walmer
To MacPherson Ave (half road – south side)
East on MacPherson
To Davenport Road (bike lane North curb lane)
S/E on Davenport
To Belmont Street (full road)
East on Belmont
thru Yonge St to Aylmer Ave. (full road)
South on Aylmer
To Rosedale Valley Rd (full road)
S/E on Rosedale Valley Rd
To Bayview Ave (full road)
South on Bayview
To River St (full road)
South and West on River
To King St (two lanes North side)
West on King St
To Sumach St (full road)
South on Sumach
To Eastern Ave (two curb lanes North side)
West On Eastern
To Front Street (full road)
West on Front
To Wellington Street (full road)
West on Wellington
To University Ave (all Northbound lanes)
South on University
To York Street (half road northbound lanes)
South on York
To Queen’s Quay (full road south side)
West on Queen’s Quay
Past Stadium Road (full road south side)
West on Remembrance
West on Aquatic
West Thru the Martin Goodman Trail (full road)
West of Martin Goodman Trail
To just east of the Humber River
East through parking lot to Lakeshore Blvd W
East on Lakeshore Blvd W
Stadium Rd (s/b lane on Stadium Rd)
South on Stadium Rd
To Queens Quay West (full road)
East on Queen’s Quay
To York Street (all northbound lanes)
North on York Street
To University Ave (all northbound lanes)
North on University
To Queen’s Park (full road)
South of Hoskin Ave

Relay: 9:20 a.m. Start
The Relay follows the same route as the Marathon.

Half Marathon: 8:00 a.m. Start

Beginning behind Mel Lastman Square on Beecroft Ave., the course heads north to Ellerslie and then turns east to Yonge St. Yonge St. south to Aylmer Rd. and then turns east towards Rosedale Valley Rd. and Bayview Ave. At Bayview, it turns south to King St. At King, turn west to Sumach St., south on Sumach St. and then west on Eastern Ave. to Front St. Running through the historic St. Lawrence Market on Front St. to Wellington St. North on University Ave to the finish at Queen's Park.

Start 08:00
Half Marathon
Beecroft – East side 50m S of North York Blvd
North on Beecroft (full road)
To Ellerslie (full road)
East on Ellerslie
To Yonge Street (all southbound lanes Ellerslie to Aylmer)
South On Yonge St
To Aylmer Road (full road)
South on Aylmer
To Rosedale Valley Road (full road)
S/E on Rosedale Valley Rd
To Bayview Ave (full road)
South on Bayview
To River St (full road)
South and West on River
To King St (two lanes north side)
West on King St
To Sumach St (full road)
South on Sumach
To Eastern Ave (two curb lanes north side)
West On Eastern
To Front Street (full road)
West on Front (thru St Lawrence Market)
To Wellington Street (full road)
West on Wellington
To University Ave (all northbound lanes)
North on University
To Queens Park (full road)
South of Hoskin Ave

The Half Marathon Walk begins at the same time as the Half Marathon and follows the same course.

5K: 8:00 a.m. Start @ Queen’s Park
Starting on the north east corner of Queen's Park and running south on the west side of University Avenue to Wellington Street, the course turns north on to the east side on University Avenue to the finish line opposite Hart House.

Start – 5km – 08:00
Queens Park near # 78 (Full Road)
On Queens Park Cr West (Full Road)
On Queens Park (all southbound lanes)
On University Ave (all southbound lanes)
At Wellington St W (turnaround)
On University Ave (all Northbound lanes)
On Queens Park (all northbound lanes)
On Queens Park Cr W (full road)
On Queens Park Cr W (full road)
South of Hoskin Ave

Motorists are advised to avoid the area, and consider the road closure when planning for their travels.

The event will proceed regardless of weather conditions.

Saturday, October 16th, 2009 - Road Closure

Oasis Zoo Run 10k,
Saturday, October 17, 2009,

Road closures
Broadcast time: 06:00
Friday, October 16, 2009
Special Events

On Saturday, October 17, 2009, RCP International will be hosting the “Oasis Zoo Run 10k.”
Road closures:
− at 8:50 a.m., the area surrounding the Toronto Zoo will be completely blocked to all
vehicular traffic.

These road closures will remain in effect until approximately 10 a.m.
− Meadowvale Road will be closed from Sheppard Avenue East to Plug Hat Road,
− Old Finch Avenue will be closed from Reesor Road to Meadowvale Road.

Motorists are advised to use alternate routes to avoid congestion.

This event will proceed regardless of weather

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Driver Education: Stop signs should be obeyed

For years, debate has raged as to whether to stop or slow down at the big red octagon posted at an intersection.

Is there a difference and does it really matter?

The short answer is, yes, there is a difference, and, yes, it does matter. Let me explain what happens when you approach a stop sign and what you can do to ensure your driving is as safe as possible.

I recently spoke to a licensed driver who had a few driving problems. I had taken him out for an evaluation and noticed immediately that he rolled his stops. He wasn’t aware of it until I told him.

He argued with me and was pretty certain he had stopped. To illustrate the point, I asked him to verbalize his actions at the next stop sign.

His explanation basically went as follows: “Coming to my stopping position, slowing down, checking the intersection, it’s clear, so I can go.”

And then he proceeded through the intersection without stopping.

Nowhere in his dialogue did he say that he felt the vehicle come to a stop. After he said he was slowing down, he immediately went into scanning the intersection. That’s the part that confuses many people. We are so concerned about continuing along to our destination that we forget about stopping. Not only can this lead to a traffic violation, but also to a collision.

Our brain plays tricks on us when we’re stopping. Once you notice a stop sign you need to begin to slow down. After feeling the vehicle stop, you should then scan the intersection to see if it’s clear to enter. Once seeing that it’s clear, you should proceed through the intersection.

Drivers who roll stops often fool themselves into thinking they have stopped. For example, if you scan the intersection as you slow down and notice that it’s clear, your brain tells you to go. Your brain tells you it’s clear, so you end up bypassing the actual stopping process without realizing it.

The problem is that you actually think you’ve stopped.

People have argued with me about this from time to time, and I also know they have argued with the police officer who pulled them over for a rolling stop. The driver actually believes they fully stopped. And why wouldn’t they? They were originally thinking about stopping, but then changed their thought process.

Have you ever argued with someone, including your passenger, who said you rolled a stop?
The driver I was out with recently said afterwards that it feels like he’s taking so much longer to get to his destinations because he has to come to a full stop.

I worked it out for him like this: If you roll through 10 stops, at an average savings of two seconds per stop, you’ve saved a total of 20 seconds. Yes, 20 seconds. What activity could you possibly do that’s so worthwhile that you can do it in those 20 seconds?

While the law says you must make a full stop, it also allows you to properly scan the intersection. If you’re thinking about stopping first, then you’ll be looking for other road users who may be entering the intersection, including pedestrians, other drivers and cyclists.

I have a 10-minute walk from the parking lot to my office and many times I’ve had to stop walking through a crosswalk or had to cross quickly because a driver rolled through a stop. They only slowed down enough to make it look like they’ve stopped so they wouldn’t get a ticket.

That’s not good enough for the safety of others.

I’ve witnessed many drivers also doing the dreaded rolling stop while turning right on a red light. Recently, I watched a driver roll through the red light so abruptly that another driver who had a green light was cut off.

Remember, you may turn right on a red light if it’s clear of all other road users, but you must stop first.

That stop sign at an intersection doesn’t mean ‘slow and go’. It means what it says.

Reposted from The DRIVER Magazine.
Written by, Scott Marshall

Red-light city - Facebook protest hopes to STOP! out-of-sync traffic signals

Article from the Toronto Sun, Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drivers of Toronto, arise. You have nothing to lose but your migraines.

At last! A rebellion against the headache that is our traffic light system.

Unless you are dead or from Ottawa, or you are a cyclist or a city councillor, you know what I mean.

"Frustrating," fumes Ian Chamandy, creator of Toronto Says STOP! -- a Facebook protest against out-of-sync lights.

Says Chamandy: "I've driven in cities around the world. They may have congestion -- but their traffic lights don't compound the problem.

"Drive up Saint-Laurent or Saint-Denis in Montreal, or Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, and you can see lights turning green ahead of you.

"As long as you stick to the speed limit, you keep moving. Toronto is the only city where they work at making you stop at every light. It can't be accidental." Amen, brother Ian. I've bellyached about out-of-sync lights for years.

Last time I asked City Hall, urban traffic manager Bruce Zvaniga told me the focus was transit, not cars.

Zvaniga and his Orcs are installing TransSuite lights, which wait on green while buses and streetcars pick up passengers -- and to hell with cars idling at the cross road. Not to mention, they screw up all synchronicity up and down the street.

Now I've learned cyclists, too, can hijack traffic lights.

I hesitate to explain how, or they'll all do it. But look for three small dots on the pavement where bicycle lanes meet traffic lights. Stop your bike on those dots. A sensor reads you. Abracadabra!

The light turns green.

Just for fun, park your bike there all day -- and drive drivers nuts.

Not that we aren't wacko already.

Drive up University Ave. Bad news is you'll hit every red. Good news is that when the frustration triggers a massive coronary, there's a row of hospitals right there.
Lakeshore. Eglinton. Dundas. The Queensway. Bloor. Ossington. Dufferin. Steeles. Show me any major street in this town and I'll show you a red-light district.

I reach Chamandy in his car. "Just coming up to King St.," he says. "Whoa, here comes another red light, 4-3-2-1. There it is. (Sigh). Four more lights to the Gardiner."

Chamandy, a business adviser who helped develop CITY-TV's Speakers Corner, has done informal tests on T.O. roads for 20 years.

"I can't find a single street where the lights are co-ordinated to turn green."

Me neither. Why? Simple. It's another way for our anti-car politicians to punish drivers.
In two years, every corner in the city will have those sadistic TransSuite signals.
TTC bosses insisted. They could have followed York Region's example -- transit friendly, but better balanced, lights.

But no. Not in Hogtown. Drivers, suck it up.

"It's a political decision," chief traffic lights engineer Raj Bissessar tells me. "Cars are at the very bottom of the priority list."

Another thing. Nine (9) engineers and technicians oversee Toronto's 2,200 sets of traffic lights.

Lights should be reset to new flows every three to five years, Bissessar tells me. "Some streets we haven't been back over in the longest while, 10 years or more."

No wonder it's so hard to catch a green in this town.

And it's not just a pain in the rear. A 2006 Transport Canada study says congestion in Toronto costs $1.6 billion a year in gas, lost work hours and pollution -- and you know red lights are major culprits.

Enough, already. Toronto Says STOP! is looking for friends on Facebook.

Chamandy aims for 50,000 members, to make stoplights an issue in next fall's election.

"It blows me away that we have 100s of thousands of car commuters every day -- that's 100s of thousands of angry customers -- and nobody does anything about it."

Makes you see red, eh?


To read the original article, click here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poll Results and New Poll Question

In our last poll, you were asked:
What do you think is the worst distraction to driving?
Multiple answers were allowed, so in some votes, all the options were chosen. This week, the votes are not shown by percentages, but instead by the actual number of votes for each.

Hand held phone conversations - 13
Texting / Emailing - 31
Reading - 15
Other people in the vehicle - 5
Eating - 10
Hands free phone conversations - 9

All of the above are distractions. Not surprising were the number of people who view texting and emailing as the number one distraction. I would of thought reading would be right up there, since it takes as much attention away from driving.

I suppose the low number of votes for eating would be some people's consideration that many foods can be consumed without taking away much attention from the road. Although also a distraction, other people in the vehicle can be beneficial as there are more eyes on the road and the driver can be alerted to danger by the gasps of fear coming from their passengers.

When the new distracted driving legislation comes into effect on October 26th police will have the power to charge people with a specific offence which labels the form of distraction.

Here are a couple of tips to help you handle the distractions from electronic devices:
Never use them while driving.
Turn off notifications while driving.
Park somewhere safe if you must use a device while in a motor vehicle.
Use headphones for passengers using entertainment devices.

Do you plan on preparing your vehicle for winter with a maintenance check up and or winter / snow tires?

Vote on the right side bar of this blog.

Crash kills one, injures another on Kennedy Road

Updated: Tue Oct. 13 2009 3:14:07 PM
Courtesy of (complete story with video, click here)

Toronto police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a fatal minivan crash on Kennedy Road, which killed one man and left another man seriously injured on Tuesday morning.

"It was just like a 'bang,' and then I saw smoke from the fire. The vehicle was on fire," witness Keysha Salter told CTV Toronto.

Sgt. Tim Burrows told that police were called to the crash scene at approximately 6:55 a.m.

A blue Chrysler minivan was headed southbound on Kennedy Road, north of Ellesmere Road, when it struck the centre median between the northbound and southbound lanes.

A truck driver helped put the fire out. A passing TTC bus driver helped pull the driver from the vehicle.

The 27-year-old male driver was taken to hospital. He was originally thought to have life-threatening injuries, but is injuries are now considered to be serious but non-life-threatening.
The 39-year-old male passenger from Brampton, Ont., died at the scene of massive head injuries. He is Toronto's 29th traffic fatality of 2009.

He was partially ejected from the vehicle as a result of the crash, Burrows said.
Initial indications are that the minivan was travelling at "a high rate of speed" at the time of the crash, Burrows said.

Police are currently investigating reports that the minivan was fleeing from the scene of another collision -- involving another vehicle that was hit on the ramp off the eastbound Highway 401 onto Kennedy Road -- that occurred only moments before the fatal crash.

Brad Becker, driver of the pickup truck rear-ended before the fatal crash, said: "He just rear-ended me and pushed me out in the intersection. By the time I got my bearings, looked around, the van was gone. I could see it going down south Kennedy."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the traffic services office at 416-808-1900.

Monday, October 5, 2009

5 hours, 184 tickets

Cops target cyclists for breaking rules of the road during marathon blitz
Last Updated: 4th October 2009, 4:51am

At 6 p.m. on a night earlier this week, a cyclist heading east on the Danforth slowed down at a red light at Playter Blvd. and came to a full and complete stop.

Toronto Police Sgt. Jack West, driving a 54 Division minivan, couldn't help but notice the relative rarity of such a sight. In addition to the mere fact she actually stopped at the red, the cyclist seemed to be observing all the rules of the road.

She was also wearing a helmet -- even though it's not mandatory for cyclists over 18 -- and she even had the requisite bell and reflective lights on her bike. And after the light turned green, this safety conscious cyclist actually used hand signals when she went to change lanes to avoid the parked cars along the curb on Danforth Ave.

"Awesome behaviour of a cyclist," West noted.

Although more cyclists are adhering to the rules of the road, too many cyclists still do not, according to cops like West, who monitor local streets.

On the same night he observed that responsible cyclist, police in 54 Division -- encompassing the east side from Danforth Ave. north to Eglinton Ave. E., between the Don River and Victoria Park Ave. --issued 184 tickets against cyclists in a five-hour blitz, from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.
And although police across the city enforce laws for cyclists, West wanted to organize a concentrated effort in 54 Division to get the word out that police are serious about cyclists -- and drivers -- who break the law.

For the three weeks prior to Wednesday evening, police in the division had handed out hundreds of flyers to cyclists in an effort to make them aware of the law as it pertains to them. For instance, all bicycles in Ontario must have a working bell or horn and they must have proper lighting, which includes a white light or reflector tape in the front and red in the back. Fines range from $18.75 for riding on the sidewalk to $325 for careless driving, although most fines are $110.

The riding habits of cyclists have been under increased scrutiny since former attorney general Michael Bryant was allegedly involved in an Aug. 31 fatal incident with a cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard. As well, with the province this week legalizing electric bikes, the roads are only going to see more pedal-pushers.

West, the lead traffic cop in 54 Division, said there are more cyclists on the road but also more irresponsible cyclists too.

He estimates of the approximately 150 cyclists he saw during the blitz, only 35 were fully compliant.

West wants all of the cyclists in his police division to be fully compliant, for their sake as well as for the drivers and pedestrians with whom they share the road.

"There are more cyclists today," West said.

"I think it's a fantastic mode of transportation. I want cyclists to understand the law in order to protect themselves."

Of that 184 tickets police issued to cyclists, 49 went to bikers whose bikes didn't have a working bell. Forty of the tickets were issued because the cyclist didn't have proper working lights, and 38 were issued to cyclists who were riding on the sidewalk. Other citations were given to cyclists who didn't stop at red lights or who made improper lane changes.

It's part of West's effort to emphasize the fact that bikes need to make themselves obvious on the road. It's a stance he repeats several times during the enforcement blitz.

"A bicycle is a small unit, therefore there's two important factors to me," West said.

"They have to be seen and they have to be heard. That's why the lighting and the bell are important."

Cops also tagged drivers -- though not as aggressively as cyclists, judging by the numbers -- but only wrote five tickets to motorists who made life difficult for cyclists.

Those offences included three improper turns, one failure to signal a lane change, and one ticket for a driver who opened his door in the path of a cyclist.

The cyclist didn't hit the door, thankfully.

"I just think that for years, we've been enforcing the highway traffic act on drivers," said West, adding the focus of enforcement on drivers has contributed to a lax attitude among cyclists, too many of whom blatantly ignore the rules of the road while riding.

But still, drivers need to be aware that they share the road equally with cyclists, West said.

"If both the motorists and the cyclists start obeying the existing laws, we're all going to get along better," he said.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Poll Results and New Question: Distracted Driving Poll

In our last poll question you were asked:
When is the best time to teach children road/bus safety?

Now while there is less traffic around school zones = 70%
On the first day of school = 0%
When there is an event that provides a teaching point = 30%

The question went up prior to the new school year so those of you that said you would teach your children before the school year had the best idea!
For those who decided that you would wait until there was an event...not the best choice. What if that event you were waiting for involved your child?

There is no better time to educate your children than when it is the safest time to do so in the safest environment. Educating children about road safety should start when they begin to explore away from your side. In your driveway or on the sidewalk in front of your home is a great opportunity to start talking about the dangers of the road, where to cross streets safely and how to cross them properly.

Events that occur can be a great support to your warnings and an excellent teaching point, but you should never wait until something happens to stress safety.

New Poll Question

On October 26th, distracted driving legislation will come into effect in Ontario. What do you think is the worst distraction to driving?

Vote to make your voice heard on the right hand side at the top of this blog.