By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- October 12, 2017 -- In this week's edition of Friday Fun, a wave of accidents in the Greater Toronto Area prompt a police warning, a letter in BC sets the record straight on ICBC cost claims, Sergio Marchionne of FCA says electric cars are less of a savior and more of a threat, and much, much more!
- Toronto police issued a public safety warning one day this past week when the service responded to more than 30 collisions by noon. “After an alarming number of vehicle collisions in and around the city, Toronto police have issued a public safety alert urging the public to be more cautious,” according to a report by Daily Hive. Police tweeted the warning after the series of incidents, including a collision between a double-decker bus and a car in Cabbagetown.
-Toronto police also reported they were looking for the driver of a car used in a fatal hit-and-run last week. Police found the car at an auto shop in Toronto, but they're still trying to find out who was driving it. According to a story in the Toronto Star, the car involved in the pedestrian death was registered to 28-year-old Erin Wright of Toronto. Police said in a news release Wednesday that they're still looking for her.
"She has failed to report the collision as required under law, and she has not furnished any information in regards to the collision or who was operating the vehicle at the time," according to a police department spokesperson. The damaged car was featured in a photo, up on a lift at a collision repair shop with damage to the right front headlight, fog light area and right fender.
- A British police officer was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for selling data about car crashes to insurance claims firms, according to a report by News 24. In one case, the officer sold the data even before a police patrol had arrived on the scene of an accident. The officer would extract names and contact details of people involved in car crashes from a police database and then sell that data to claims firms in return for, “… various types of compensation,” according to the story. The police officer even set up his own company to handle the data transfers and made six figure sums over seven years. The officer was caught when accident victims complained they were receiving calls, “... even though they had given their contact details only to the police.” Two accomplices, including the officer’s wife (who was also a member of the police) were also convicted.
- A man faces multiple charges after jumping onto a moving Baltimore County School Bus. Police say 68-year-old man jumped on the hood of a bus after a plastic bottle was thrown from the bus and struck his car. Doran banged on the doors according to police. He then attempted to get on the bus. The driver would not open the door out of fear for the safety of the students. That sounds reasonable. There was an unhinged man banging on the windshield, after all. "You could tell those kids were extremely terrified. Some were even huddled together holding onto each other," according to the driver as quoted by CBS. Two mechanics from a nearby autobody shop assisted the officer in removing the man from the bus.
- As a way of giving back to the local community, Extreme Auto Body in Pueblo, Colorado, has been offering to repaint local police cars, according to a report in the Pueblo Chieftain. Along with Southwest Motors and D&S Paint Center, the autobody specialists have teamed up to refinish beat-up police cruisers with peeling paint. D&S Paint Center donated the materials. Techs at Extreme did the work. The rough shape of some of the local police cruisers incented the shop to get involved.
"I've seen them around town and how bad they look. It didn't look good for them to be representing the city in cars like that, so we thought we could help that out. I know they're tight with their budget, so I thought we should give back,” said Lee Herrara, owner of Extreme Auto Body.
- Kanetix has released its 2017 ranking of the most expensive places in Ontario to insure a car. According to a press release, "If you live and drive anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), chances are you're paying a lot for your auto insurance coverage. Provincially, the average comes in at about $1,316, yet many cities in the GTA exceed the provincial average." Number one on the list was Brampton at $2,268. Vaughan was second at $1,825 and Mississauga third at $1,788. Premiums in Richmond Hill, Ajax, Hamilton, Pickering and Whitby also exceed the provincial average, according to the release.
- The CEO of FCA, Sergio Marchionne, recently suggested that electric cars are more of a threat to the planet than a potential saviour, and governments should, “...stop forcing them on to the buying public.”
According to Marchionne, government action to spur electric car sales without first making sure the source of their energy has been cleaned up, will increase the production of CO2 to dangerous levels and endanger the planet. Electric cars, of course, typically rely on power generated by coal to top up their batteries. According to Marchionne, electric cars are said to be more environmentally friendly than internal combustion engine powered cars, but the "cradle-to-grave" impact of battery power produces a different result. That is, the environmental impacts from mining lithium and rare earth metals used to make the cars are large. As well, coal or natural gas is most often burned to create the electricity the cars rely on. Marchionnne may have a good point.
- An interesting letter appeared this week in the Vancouver-area newspaper North Shore News. Ken McCormack, President and CEO of the BC-based Automotive Retailers Association (ARA), wrote in to, "... take exception to the incomplete reporting of the escalating vehicle repair costs in BC."
There is a big debate going on in the province around the huge costs at provincial insurer ICBC. McCormack's letter took exception to reported comments from Annette Toth, the union representing ICBC staff. Toth had apparently stated that autobody shops have been allowed to control repair costs.
"This is completely incorrect," writes McCormack. The letter goes on to explain that the industry has, "... no ability whatsoever to control repair costs or influence rates paid to shops on work they do for vehicle owners making claims through ICBC ... Rates paid to our industry are determined at the sole discretion of ICBC, with limited or no input from industry that takes into consideration the true costs of repairing vehicles, and many of our shops have had little or no rate increases for as much as two decades."
As anyone in the provincial collision repair industry knows, "We are an industry that is dependent on ICBC for the vast majority of vehicle repair work done in this province and the relationship is extremely unbalanced."
As McCormack puts it in the letter, "... readers may be left with the mistaken impression that repair shops are benefitting from these conditions. Margins to our small business repair shops are very small and many shops struggle greatly to remain viable. We have advocated to government for years to rectify the unreasonable rates paid to shops for these repairs ... While repair costs are actually rising for ICBC, those increases are the direct result of more expensive vehicles on BC roads and the high cost of replacement parts."
BC politicians are under fire and seem to be using any excuse they can to deflect blame. The union leader obviously has a vested interest in shifting blame for cost inflation away from members. Thankfully there is someone in the province explaining reality.
"Repair shops are not the ones receiving the benefits from these escalating costs. We are, in fact, one more supplier to ICBC that has been neglected as they focus their efforts on other government priorities. We have been heavy subsidizers of ICBC profits at the expense of a sustainable industry," writes McCormack.