In with the New Year and out with the old? Not so fast, because the following is a snapshot of changes you may not be familiar with, but should know about as we begin a new year.
In April, 2010 Alberta introduced legislation that tackles distracted driving. The bill was passed in November and will come into effect mid-2011. The law will restrict the use of hand-held cell phones and activities like texting, reading, writing, and personal grooming while driving. The penalty will be $172.
To read more about distracted driving read the Kanetix article Driven to distraction: The impact of distractions on the Canadian driver.
Mandatory auto insurance premiums decreased five per cent
In July, the Automobile Insurance Rate Board announced there would be a five per cent decrease in premiums on mandatory automobile insurance. The lower insurance rates came into effect on November 1, 2010. Mandatory auto insurance includes Third Party Liability and Accident Benefits and accounts for more than half of your Alberta auto insurance premium.
Compare Alberta auto insurance to see if a better, lower rate is available.
In December, 2010 the Alberta Ministry of Transportation announced that motorists are required to report an accident to police when the property damage totals $2,000. Previously, the amount was $1,000. This change came into effect on January 1, 2011.
Note: This relates to accidents where there is only property damage. Accidents where there is an injury or fatality must always be reported to police.
Although the ban on hand-held devices while driving became law on October 26, 2009 it wasn't until February 1, 2010 when police began to issue tickets. The penalty is $155.
To learn more about Ontario's driving ban read, Steer clear of cellphones: How taking a call while driving could raise your rates.
Zero alcohol tolerance for new drivers and drivers under 21
On August 1, 2010 novice drivers of any age and all drivers under the age of 21 must have a zero blood alcohol level while behind the wheel. The penalties, when caught, include an immediate 24-hour licence suspension, a further 30-day suspension upon conviction and up to $500 in fines.
Ontario auto insurance reforms
Ontario auto insurance reforms came into effect on September 1, 2010. The reforms were introduced to help stabilize Ontario auto insurance premiums and are expected to prevent rates from rising further.
To learn more about Ontario's auto insurance reforms read, Kanetix's 2010 Guide to Ontario's Auto Insurance Reforms.
Licence plate renewals linked to insurance coverage
Beginning November 29, 2010, before you can renew your licence plate, the province will electronically confirm that the vehicle is properly insured. If it is not insured you will not be able to renew your licence plate.
Seven-day vehicle impoundment
Effective December 1, 2010 Ontario drivers can have their vehicle impounded roadside if they: are found to be driving with a blood alcohol level over 0.08; refuse to provide a breath sample or fail a breathalyzer; are driving with a suspended licence; or are driving without an ignition interlock device when required to do so.
Reduce speed when passing emergency vehicles
Effective May 1, 2010 drivers in Nova Scotia must decrease their speed to 60 km per hour, or the posted limit whichever is slower, when passing stopped emergency vehicles. It doesn't matter if it is a police, paramedic or fire vehicle, drivers must slow down or face the prospect of a hefty ticket.
Prince Edward Island:
On January 23, 2010 the law banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving in Prince Edward Island came into effect. Getting caught breaking the law could cost drivers a fine of $250.
It's a new year, with new rules
No matter where you live in Canada, staying informed, driving safely and following the rules of the road are important facets in keeping your auto insurance rates low. Also important is to remember that just like some of the rules of the road, your auto insurance rates will likely change this year too. Easily compare what's available and get auto insurance quotes today; you never know when a new year might bring with it new, lower auto insurance rates.