Friday Fun: Toronto man walks away from a serious accident, Kamloops man has to pay big tow bill

A teenager in Sarnia stole his parents' car and went for a joyride. It ended when ... well, you can probably figure that part out from the photo.
By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — December 15, 2016 — It’s time for another edition of Friday Fun, our weekly round-up of the strange, the funny, the heart-breaking and the heart-warming. This week we look into a series of ads of that pranks repair shop customers, how a man in BC wound up on the hook for a tow bill worth than the vehicle, how another man in Toronto “walked it off” after a serious accident and much, much more! 
Regardless of the date on the calendar, winter swept into many parts of Canada over the last week. The number of collisions spiked from coast-to-coast, with nearly 500 collisions reported over 24 hours around the Greater Toronto Area alone. 
A Sarnia teenager has been charged after ploughing through a home in a Dodge Challenger he stole from his parents. A CBC report notes that, “Police said they tried to stop the 16-year-old driver during his joy ride early Monday morning, but they gave up because the road was slippery and wet at the time, and the car was going too fast. Minutes after the pursuit ended, the teenager crashed into a home, smashing through the front wall and ploughing through the home before stopping on the back patio …” 
 – A Kamloops man was charged by provincial insurer ICBC for the recovery of his stolen pickup truck. The owner declined to put comprehensive auto insurance on it, as it was only worth $1,500. “Since the value on it was so low, I figured if something did happen to it, I’d be able to replace it fairly easily,” said the owner. According to a report by the CBC, “The comprehensive insurance would have covered theft of the truck, but it was a risk the 28-year-old was willing to take. So, when the truck did get stolen over the May long weekend this year, he reported it to police but figured he would just have to absorb the loss himself. Months went by with no news about what had happened to it. ‘To be honest, especially after this long, I kind of gave up hope as far as finding it or hearing anything,’ he said. But a little more than a week ago, he got an unexpected call from a towing company in Abbotsford, BC, which is more than 280 kilometres away from his home. His truck had been found at the bottom of a 450-metre ravine on Sumas Mountain, and the towing company told him he was going to have to pay at least $2,000 to get it out.” Because he didn’t have insurance he was stuck with the bill. 
A report in the Edmonton Sun notes that the, “Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council will undergo a complete overhaul after an independent report released Tuesday found a dysfunctional system sitting on almost $4 million that should have been paid out to ripped-off consumers.” The CEO of the organization has left after the council’s board decided, “…changes required new leadership and a completely re-writing of the boss’ role. In August 2016, following years of concerns about how the organization was being run and rafts of consumer complaints … [A] hefty 225-page report made 23 recommendations on how to improve it.” 
The list of the, “… many and varied complaints about the council is ‘quite long,’ including low public confidence, high levels of staff turnover, concerns over the actions of former administrators and questions about whether or not the council acts in the best interest of Albertans,” according to the report. The report also, “…recommended a wide swath of changes … The compensation program for consumers will be completely redrawn, with a mandate to make it more consumer friendly. As it stands, the fund has a balance of $4 million — the maximum amount allowed — but paid out just $2,000 last year.”
A driver sideswiped by a transport truck on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto this week was pushed through a guardrail and off the edge of the expressway. He was ejected from, landed upside down … and then, “… walked away from the crash with just minor injuries early Wednesday morning. A Toronto firefighter on the scene told CBC Toronto the driver’s fall was cushioned by a pile of dirt. ‘He must be the luckiest guy alive. Five feet to the right and he would have been dead,’ the firefighter said.” The man was ejected from his car as it went off the expressway. According to police he, “…fell into a pile of dirt, which probably saved his life.” The truck did not stay at the scene of the accident. Check out the video from CBC: 

 – Scarcity of specialty technicians is a growing concern in the heavy truck body repair industry according to an article in Fleet Owner magazine: “… paint technicians are one breed of truck technicians that’s getting harder to find … it’s getting extremely hard if not harder to find these [body and paint] technicians compared to regular service techs … It’s an almost old school [technician] discipline; it’s manual labour. Most young guys just don’t want to do this. They’d rather work with computers.”
“Marcy Fernandez, North American fleet manager for the commercial transportation segment at paint-maker Axalta, said some high-end truck paints can cost $3,500 a pint and with the large amount of surface area on a Class 8 truck to cover, overusing even a little bit can make the job unprofitable in a hurry,” according to the story. “It’s not like the automotive world, where paint is layered on coat by coat, which can help blend out imperfections … Because trucks are so big, we must take a ‘one-and-done’ approach – and applying one clean coat requires a [paint] technician to make the [paint] mixture just right and apply it with even-handed discipline … Being forced to apply two coats due to a mistake can be a bottom-line buster. 
Puralotor Filters has a series of videos that are pretty funny. An actor pretends to be a tech, and  pranks real customers with various objects he claims to have found in their engine compartment. Check it out: 

A story in The Atlantic notes that women are more seriously hurt in car crashes:  “For over 60 years (dating back before WWII), car manufacturers only used male crash test dummies when developing vehicles, assuming that male physical features were representative of all passengers when it came to safety. Of course, this is far from the truth; women have different bone density, are generally smaller in stature, and have a different muscular makeup than their male counterparts. It wasn’t until 2003 that female crash test dummies became widespread enough to impact the automotive industry in any real way. And it wasn’t until 2011 that the use of female dummies were required by law. When asked about this disparity in thinking, an injury prevention director at San Diego State University cited closed-mindedness. ‘Manufacturers and designers used to all be men,’ according to the source. ‘It didn’t occur to them they should be designing for people unlike themselves.’” 
Various newspapers have been running stories on the remarkable number of auto-pedestrian collisions of late. According to one story, “Auto were clearly caused by motorist traffic violations (e.g., failure to yield, jumping the curb); thirty-three percent of pedestrian deaths could not be determined; and, in 32 percent of cases there might have been a combination of pedestrians disregarding traffic rules (e.g., crossing against the light) and drivers not paying enough attention… evidence shows that the types of pedestrians struck by vehicles are not just young daredevils or children darting into the road — common misconceptions. Rather, 35 per cent of pedestrians struck were seniors, even though they represent only 13 per cent of the population…Most pedestrian victims were just trying to cross the road at an intersection.” 
-A story in Spacing magazine asks: “Do those Kids at Play signs that have become so common have any effect?” In Toronto there has been a proliferation of “Slow Down, Kids at Play” lawn signs. The signs have proliferated as, “… part of a private campaign in the wake of the death of a child hit by a car in Leaside … This spring, the City of Toronto jumped on the bandwagon by releasing its own ‘Slow Down’ lawn signs, which it branded as its ‘Spring Safely Campaign.’ The initiative was greeted with a certain amount of scorn, given that it was obviously an attempt to look like the City was doing something without spending a lot of money.” Does it work? According to the story in Spacing, a similar campaign in Oceanside, California showed that the campaign, “… reduced speeds by 16% … That may not sound like much, but it could be the difference between going 45 km/hr and under 40 km/hr, or 40 km/hr and 35 km/hr, on a residential street — and we know that even a small reduction in speed makes a big difference in fatalities and serious injuries in this speed range. One study … concluded that, on residential streets, a 1 mile-per-hour (1.6 km/hr) reduction in average speed would result in 6% fewer collisions.”
– The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released proposed guidelines to, “… help stop driver distraction caused by mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles … The first phase focused on systems built into vehicles during the manufacturing process. The proposed, voluntary guidelines are designed to encourage portable and aftermarket electronic device makers to design products that reduce the potential for driver distraction. The guidelines encourage manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, where a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode, which is a simplified user interface. Both modes would aim at limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road. ‘With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers’ eyes where they belong―on the road,’ said NHTSA administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind.”

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