Quebec: Should Dangerous Goods be Travelling on Montreal’s Highways?

Update:

Gilbert Prince was passionate about truck driving, according to his friend and former colleague Alain Duguet. Prince died in an explosion on Highway 40 in Montreal Tuesday.
Gilbert Prince was passionate about truck driving, according to his friend and former colleague Alain Duguet. Prince died in an explosion on Highway 40 in Montreal Tuesday. (Submitted by Alain Duguet)

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Experts weigh in on how to make the transportation dangerous goods safer

Alain Duguet and Gilbert Prince crisscrossed Canada and the United States together a number of times, two truck drivers cramped in a relatively small space.

They could chat for hours, getting into disagreements every now and then, but Prince was such a jovial person that he laughed even when he was upset, Duguet said.

“I’m talking about him in the past tense…” Duguet said. He sighed. His voice trailed off.

Prince died Tuesday when the truck he was driving, carrying thousands of litres of diesel fuel, exploded following a collision on Montreal’s Metropolitan highway.

These days, Duguet mainly delivers fruits and vegetables. He doesn’t transport dangerous goods and never has.

“You have to have nerves of steel. Gilbert was [better suited] for it than me. He’d say it’s a job like any other. No, not for me. I find it’s too dangerous,” he said.

Alain Duguet
Truck driver Alain Duguet chokes up when he speaks about his friend Gilbert Prince, who died Tuesday.

How best to transport dangerous goods?

The fatal collision has raised questions about how dangerous goods are transported through Montreal, and whether they should be transported through the city at all.

Montreal is a hub for the distribution of refined products. Oil, for instance, is carried from the east-end Suncor refinery, and jet fuel is carried from the port to Trudeau Airport.

Though both federal and provincial regulations exist about the transportation of dangerous goods, Gilbert Prince wasn’t breaking any when he took the Metropolitan around 4 p.m.

That fact has led to questions: should we ban trucks carrying dangerous goods from travelling through the city at rush hour, when there are more cars and presumably a higher likelihood of collisions?

Is relegating them to off-peak hours any better? There may be fewer cars on the road, but those cars have room to speed, which could result in more spectacular accidents?

Highway 40 inferno
Six people were injured and Gilbert Prince, a husband, father and grandfather, died in the crash. (Radio-Canada)

Pierre Aubin, vice-president of the Quebec trucking association, said it would not be financially viable to keep trucks off the roads at rush hour.

He said companies transporting goods will have too a limited window to get their products to their destinations. Transporting goods only at night would not work either, he said, since trucks make noise and nearby residents may complain.

But Jean-Paul Lacoursière, a chemical engineer and risk management consultant for the transportation of dangerous goods, said restricting the times when flammable or corrosive goods can be transported through Montreal would be a good idea.

“If there are less people [on the road], there’s less risk,” he said.

Tanker Truck Fire 20160809
Firefighters stand next to a fuel tanker that burst into flames on the stretch of Highway 40 known as the Metropolitan during rush hour after colliding with at least two other vehicles Tuesday, Aug. 9 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Driving on the Met: convenient, yet challenging

The Metropolitan highway cuts right through Montreal. As far as getting goods from one end of the island to the other, it’s one of the most direct routes.

Pedro Ruibal runs École de Routiers Montréal, a truck driving school. He said he drives on the Metropolitan almost every day and says it’s very dangerous.

“It’s very narrow, there is a lot [of traffic] coming into the Met and coming off,” he said.

Metropolitan highway
Pedro Ruibal, who runs a truck driving school, says driving on the Met presents specific challenges for truck drivers. (Radio-Canada)

Most drivers know truck drivers have to leave a greater stopping distance in front of them. Ruibal explained that distance changes with dangerous goods, especially if what’s inside is liquid.

Braking and accelerating creates waves inside a tanker, and those waves push the truck forward, making it more difficult to stop, he said. Drivers try to leave as much distance as possible so they don’t have to brake and create those waves.

But that is complicated by reckless drivers in cars. And there is no shortage of such drivers in Montreal, Duguet said.

“We’re up high, we see the situation. They are crazy. They gamble with their lives,” he said.

What are the options?

Vedat Verter, professor at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and an expert in transportation risk management, said Calgary may serve as a model for Montreal.

In that city, there are designated dangerous goods roads, where trucks must travel. They can only divert at the point necessary to reach their destination.

Other mitigation options he proposed include:

  • An outright ban on trucks carrying dangerous goods on certain highways.
  • Time-based curfews where trucks can only travel on certain highways at set times.
  • Putting a toll on the Met that is more expensive than the one for Highway 30, which would incite truck drivers to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.
slow traffic congestion highway 40 baie d'urfe montreal
Highway 40, which includes the Metropolitan, is one of the most direct routes through Montreal. (Jay Turnbull/CBC News)

Duguet said not allowing trucks on certain highways during rush hour could work but would take some planning. Montreal doesn’t have many bypass routes except Highway 30, he said, and the toll means not everyone will take it.

‘I’ll think of him every day’

Duguet still drives on many of the roads he travelled together with Prince, and passes the places they stopped en route.

“I’ll think of him every day,” Duguet said. “I’ll have no choice.”

Duguet knew that whenever he returned home, Prince would bring his wife a bouquet of flowers. He visited Prince’s widow Thursday, a bouquet in tow.

B.C.: Unpaid ICBC Claims Could Lead to Increase in Rates

Update:

The latest figures from ICBC show an increase in unpaid claims.
The latest figures from ICBC show an increase in unpaid claims. (CBC)

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Crown corporation says it’s hiring new staff to deal with increase in claims

ICBC documents released by the B.C. NDP show its unpaid insurance claims have nearly doubled over the last five years, which the political party says could lead to a rate increase for B.C. residents.

Results from the Crown corporation’s first fiscal quarter of 2016 show an increase in claims and money spent in court, but a decrease in revenue.

British Columbians could see a spike in insurance costs under the ICBC, due to unpaid claims. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
British Columbians could see a spike in insurance costs under the ICBC, due to unpaid claims. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“ICBC analysis shows that this would increase rates for rate payers by half a billion dollars,” said Adrian Dix, the B.C. NDP’s critic for the insurance corporation.

“If any company in the private sector came through with these kind of results, everybody involved would be worried,” he added.

Numbers from the public insurer show claims have shot up from an average of around 20,000 a year five years ago to 30,000 a year now.

ICBC says it’s in the midst of hiring new claims staff to deal with the challenge. It said the increase in claims is because of fraud.

TTC: Queens Quay crackdown this weekend reminds us of the rules

Update:

TTC streetcars. Drivers still must learn to stay out of streetcars' designated lanes -- which are now physically distinct from ordinary traffic lanes. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
TTC streetcars. Drivers still must learn to stay out of streetcars’ designated lanes — which are now physically distinct from ordinary traffic lanes. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Redesigned street is popular but ‘you really have to keep your wits about you,’ admits mayor.

Toronto police will hit the waterfront this weekend to launch a traffic blitz on crowded Queens Quay.

In a news release issued Friday, the force said officers will be on the street Saturday and Sunday afternoon, between noon and 4 p.m., and the blitz will target “motorists, cyclists and pedestrians not obeying the rules and committing unsafe acts.”

The release said the goal of the initiative was to enforce the rules but also educate the public “on how to make Queens Quay a safe place for everyone.”

The lakeside boulevard reopened in June 2015 after a $128.9-million overhaul that took three years and was intended to allow drivers, bikers, pedestrians and public transit to coexist on the same road.

While the redesign has proved popular and Queens Quay is a favourite destination for locals and tourists, it has also prompted complaints from people who say the unfamiliar configuration is sowing confusion and conflict among road users not use to sharing the street.

Waterfront Toronto, the publicly funded agency that led the redesign, is still making adjustments like adding signs telling pedestrians to watch for cyclists at intersections where they might come into conflict, and installing additional traffic lights to discourage illegal left turns.

But potentially dangerous behaviour, like drivers illegally using the streetcar right-of-way, is still a common sight.

Mayor John Tory, who did a walk-through of Queens Quay with Toronto police officers and members of Waterfront Toronto on Friday afternoon, said he believed the redesign has been successful but people need time to get used to it.

“I think it is working as well as you can expect when this is a concept that is I think quite new for Torontonians,” he said.

The mayor said that with all the activity on Queens Quay “you really have to keep your wits about you,” and admitted that during the walk-through he accidentally wandered into the path of bicycles because he wasn’t paying attention.

But he rejected any suggestion that Waterfront Toronto had bungled the project.

“I don’t look at it that anybody made a mistake,” he said. “We’ll continue to learn, but it doesn’t mean you don’t do these things. This is part of building a modern city that is going to be shared by people who want to get around in different ways.”

Const. Barry Bates of 52 Division said that last summer there was “an extraordinary number of accidents” on Queens Quay. He estimated there were about 70 collisions between Rees. St. and York St. This year that number has declined, he said.

According to Bates, while Queens Quay has had its issues the problem is mainly with the amount of people who use the street rather than with its design.

“When you overload something, it breaks down. . . There’s no correction for that. It’s just part of being downtown in an urban environment.”

About eight uniformed police will take part in this weekend’s blitz, plus parking enforcement officers, Bates said. The service intends to concentrate on issues like cyclists riding too fast, drivers making improper turns, pedestrians crossing the streetcar right-of-way, and road users of all kinds disobeying signals.

According to Bates, the officers will favour educating people over handing out tickets. “That’s all we can do, do our best to educate. It’s an ongoing process. It’s not going to end this summer.”

Laura Feltz, who has lived in the area for six years, said she welcomed the blitz. Her eyesight is deteriorating, and she sometimes has to be extra cautious on the street, especially at night.

“You don’t have to stay too long to see people doing the wrong things,” she said.

“You’ve got people who don’t obey signals, you’ve got pedestrians who are new to this city and they’re trying to understand where they’re going and not really paying full attention.”

The rules, one more time

Confused about the redesigned Queens Quay? Don’t worry, the police are here to help. This weekend they’ll be educating (and possibly ticketing) road users who don’t follow the rules. Here are the types of behaviour they’ll be focusing on.

  • Unsafe crossings: It’s not illegal to cross the street mid-block, Const. Barry Bates of 52 Division said, but with pedestrians forced to traverse both streetcar tracks and car lanes to get to the other side of Queens Quay, police will be advising people pay extra attention. “Use a crosswalk if you can,” Bates said.
  • Speedy cyclists: The Martin Goodman Trail that runs along Queens Quay is a popular cycling route, but some riders seem to love it a bit too much. Many don’t heed the signs to slow down. “This is a family area,” said Const. Bates. “As far as having a wide-open bicycle track, this is not it . . . Cyclists need to slow down and share the (trail).”
  • Reckless turns: A major cause of the high number of collisions last year was drivers ignoring left-turn traffic lights, particularly at the intersection with Lower Simcoe St. Waterfront Toronto has added additional signals to make it clearer to drivers when it’s safe to turn left, but police will be watching for motorists who ignore them.
  • Signal scofflaws: There are separate traffic signals on Queens Quay for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and streetcars. During the blitz police will be watching for anyone who disobeys them. “Whatever group decides at one point, ‘I’m not waiting,’ it’s going to have a trickle-down effect to everybody else,” said Const. Hugh Smith.

Winnipeg: New Parking Ticket System won’t Fix Old Problems

Update:

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Group works to expose unfair traffic enforcements in Winnipeg

When it comes to parking tickets some spots in Winnipeg are set up to see driver’s fail, according to the founder of Wise Up Winnipeg.

Todd Dube and his group are working to expose what they call unfair traffic enforcement in the city. He said a new system, starting on Monday, doesn’t fix the root problem of a backlog in traffic tickets.

“What they did was they avoided the actual issue,” Dube said.

“The issue should be … why is there such a tremendous backlog at traffic court? Why are there so many thousands of people suddenly angry and pleading not guilty?”

Dube went on a ride along with a Winnipeg Parking Authority parking-ticket enforcer, who wanted to remain anonymous, on Saturday and checked out some of the spots that continuously rack up tickets.

“He just has had enough [after] five years telling the city, his bosses, his management, this is an unfair spot [and] there is ambiguous or contrary signage,” Dube said of his ride-along with the ticket enforcer.

“The city should be correcting the locations not taking advantage,” he added.

The parking-ticket enforcer is so fed up he is resigning on Monday, Dube said.

Todd Dube
Todd Dube and his group, Wise Up Winnipeg, are working to expose unfair traffic enforcements in the city. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Right now, drivers who want to challenge a parking ticket go to court at the provincial Highway Traffic Matters building.

If the presiding judicial justice of the peace agrees with the gripe, the wrongly ticketed driver doesn’t pay; if the justice of the peace disagrees, the driver must pay the ticket at the Winnipeg Parking Authority building.

Starting Monday, drivers will see a city traffic screening officer at the parking authority building, who will decide whether there’s any weight to the complaint. That officer will decide if there’s a reduction or if the ticket will be dismissed.

If the city official decides the parking ticket was warranted after all, the driver can then appeal to a provincially appointed adjudicator for a fee of $25, which will be waived if the adjudicator ends up siding with the driver, city officials said Friday.

That completely misses the point, Dube said. The problem is with poorly marked and confusing signs and tree limbs getting in the way, he added.

“These [parking-ticket enforcers] round their bend on their beat, and they know there is going to be a car parked there, like there is every hour, and they keep issuing tickets,” he said about hot spots in the city.

Wise Up Winnipeg

Wise Up Winnipeg held signs at Grant Avenue and Wilton Street warning people of photo enforcement. (Travis Golby/CBC)

On the tour, Dube said they stopped at five hot spots, but there are more than 40 around the city. The worst ones are downtown near the University of Winnipeg.

“They are locations where you can stand and look at the tower of signs for 20 minutes …. And everybody will have a different opinion on whether you can park or not,” Dube said.

It’s not the only battle that Dube and his group are fighting. On Sunday they held signs at Grant Avenue and Wilton Street warning people of photo enforcement.

1st recorded Canadian fatality from airbag inflator rupture under investigation

Update:

http://financialtribune.com/sites/default/files/field/image/11_Takata%20-%20630.jpg
Transport Canada says it is investigating the first recorded case in the country of a fatality involving a ruptured driver-side airbag inflator.

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Driver killed July 8 in Newfoundland and Labrador after metal shrapnel exploded into the car

Transport Canada says it is investigating the first recorded case in the country of a fatality involving a ruptured driver-side airbag inflator.

Authorities say the driver of a 2009 Hyundai Elantra in Newfoundland and Labrador involved in a two-vehicle collision was killed on July 8 when the airbag inflator exploded and fired metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment of the car.

“The incident was a low-speed collision, which was expected to be survivable,” a Transport Canada spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The ruptured inflator was manufactured by ARC Automotive Inc., a company based in Knoxville, Tenn., and is not related to recent Takata airbag inflator failures, Transport Canada said in a news release Thursday.

The cause of the ARC inflator rupture has not been determined, the federal government department said.

“Should a safety defect be found, owners will be notified,” Transport Canada said.

Two previous incidents involving ARC inflator ruptures occurred in the United States, both causing serious injuries.

Transport Canada said ARC is co-operating with investigators, and that Ottawa is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States on the issue.

The Associated Press reported that about eight million inflators built by ARC are under scrutiny, mainly in older vehicles made by GM, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai and Kia.

U.S. government investigators started looking at ARC inflators in July 2015, following reports that an Ohio woman was injured when her 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan crashed and the inflator ruptured. Separately, another person was reported injured in an inflator rupture involving a 2004 Kia Optima.

NHTSA said the Elantra involved in the crash in Newfoundland and Labrador had an ARC inflator made in China.

The probe of ARC inflators differs from the larger recall of 69 million inflators in the U.S. produced by Takata Corp. Several automakers in Canada have announced recalls of vehicles equipped with Takata inflators.

In the Takata case, explosive ammonium nitrate is used to inflate the airbags. However, over time the chemical can degrade, burn too quickly and blow up metal inflator cannisters.

Ammonium nitrate is also used in ARC inflators, but investigators are looking into whether a blocked vent can leave the gas with no place to go, leading to a pressure buildup and a rupture of the inflator assembly.