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Tomorrow's Drivers
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Billy - Paralegal and Certified Driving Instructor.
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Summer Sessions Posted - Register Early to get specials and discounts.
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Great job, Jeyna!
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Cassandra passed with flying colours!
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What Makes a Car Totaled After a Wreck?
November 8, 2012 – 2:29 pm
When most people picture a totaled car, they picture a car crunched like an accordion or a car that is in pieces all over the road. While a car in this condition is undoubtedly totaled, a car that appears to have minor damage may also be declared totaled as well.
How is that possible?
Well, whether or not your car is totaled has a lot to do with the value of your car. Basically, if it will cost the insurance company more to repair your car than it would to replace it, then they will declare your car a total loss. A lot of times a car can look like there is no way it could be totaled, but when repairs start to take place, unseen damage can be found in the engine that can quickly make the repair costs add up. In most cases, if the repairs equal 70-75% of the car’s value, it will be declared a total loss.
Even if your car has a high value, it may still be considered totaled if the damage that occurred cannot be repaired to a safe state. In fact, some states even require that a car be totaled if the amount of repairs reaches a certain threshold.
Sweet, so then the insurance company will replace my car?
If only it were that easy. Insurance companies are actually only required to pay you the actual cash value of the car, which they get to determine. They will look at what similar cars are selling for in your area, as well as sources like Kelley Blue Book. But if your car has unusually high mileage or any pre-existing damage, you can expect your settlement amount to be even less.
Whether this is good or bad for you depends on your financial status with the car. If the car is paid off and you were considering getting a new car anyway, getting your car totaled can be a blessing in disguise. However, if you still owe on your car, the insurance company will only pay what they consider the actual value of the car, not the amount you owe. Yes, that means you may have to keep making car payments on a car that is no longer drivable.
Do I have any other options?
Actually, yes. If for financial or sentimental reasons you would rather keep your car, then that is an option as well. Insurance companies sell totaled cars to salvage companies, so they may as well sell it to you instead. In that case, the insurance company will deduct an agreed upon salvage amount from your settlement payment. However, keeping a totaled car is risky business. After all, it was declared totaled for a reason.
By defdriving | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged car accident, defensive driving, safety,totaled, wreck | Comments (0)
How to Handle a Wreck when the Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance
November 6, 2012 – 2:24 pm
After the realization has set in that you have just got in a car accident, you may experience many emotions. You may experience pain, worry, and confusion. You may even feel some relief if you know that you were not at fault for the accident. At least you won’t have to worry about using your insurance coverage or paying for the damages. Whew!
But wait…what if the other person doesn’t have insurance?
Of course they have insurance, right? It is the law, after all. That is true, but that does not mean everyone follows this regulation. In fact, according to the Insurance Research Council, as many as 1 in 7 drivers do not carry the insurance required by law. That means that if you get in a car accident, there is a 14% chance that the person that hits you will not have insurance.
What does that mean for me?
Well, unless you are extremely lucky it means that you are going to have a hard time getting your medical bills or car damage paid for. That is because most people that do not have insurance do not have very many personal assets. Even if they actually have enough money to pay you, are they accountable and responsible enough to actually follow through? Considering they are already breaking the law by not having insurance in the first place, probably not.
Can’t I take legal action?
Yes, hiring a lawyer to get your expenses paid for is always an option. However, even if you win, that does not guarantee payment. Some states will garnish wages to pay for lawsuits, but oftentimes you are responsible for collecting the payment yourself. Not to mention, there is a chance that you could lose. In that case, you will end up with legal fees to pay as well.
So I am just tough out of luck?
Unfortunately, yes. That is, unless you were smart enough to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your insurance before you got in the accident. This is the best way to ensure that you will be covered in an auto accident no matter what. The coverage only costs about 10 extra bucks a month and covers medical payments, car damages, and even wages lost in the event of a no-fault accident where the other driver does not have insurance. Plus, isn’t peace of mind priceless?
By defdriving | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged car accident, insurance, wreck | Comments (0)
Why Speeding in Neighborhoods is a No-No
November 1, 2012 – 1:21 pm
Do you feel like you are always running late? If you are, you probably speed more than you would like to admit. Yes, where you are going is undoubtedly important. However, it is important that you abide by the speeding laws, especially when driving through your neighborhood. Of course you know that speeding laws exist to keep you and other drivers safe while on the road, but when you are driving in neighborhoods there is more to the equation.
But the speed limits are so slow in neighborhoods!
Yes, they are, for a reason. Think about it, how many times when you are driving through your neighborhood do you see other people out walking or running. Perhaps they are taking their dog for a walk. Maybe they are playing catch with their kids in the front yard. These happenings are what add charm to a neighborhood, but they also make it extremely important that you follow the speed limit. Most speed limits in neighborhoods are between 20-30 miles per hour. At this speed, you are going slowly enough that you are able to actively be on the defense so that you can efficiently react if need be.
For example, let’s say that the parent playing catch with his child accidentally overthrows the ball, causing his child to chase after it without even thinking to check for cars. What if the dog going on a walk breaks free from his leash and makes a run for it. These are all things that happen in neighborhoods across the country every day.
But I’m going to be late!
Even if you are running late, it is important that you follow the ever-so-slow speed limits in your neighborhood. If you have to speed (which we don’t recommend) wait until you are on the freeway. Chances are that your family likes to spend time outdoors, too, and you probably expect the drivers to drive slowly when you are the ones outside.
By defdriving | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged driving in neighborhoods, speeding, street safety | Comments (0)
3 Tricks to Keep Your Kids Safe This Halloween
October 30, 2012 – 1:13 pm
Halloween is full of goblins, monsters, and witches. And hopefully, most of them are fake. However, there are some real goblins and monsters out there that you want to protect your kids from while they are out trick-or-treating. If you follow these 3 tricks you and your kids can make it home safely with lots of treats.
Make Your Kids Visible
Trick-or-treating takes place at night, of course! It wouldn’t be near as spooky in the daytime. Unfortunately, this darkness can make it difficult for drivers to see your kids. You should put reflective tape on your kids’ costumes and candy buckets. For extra protection, give them each a little flashlight to carry as well. It will make them more visible and make it easier to see where they are walking.
Wear Costumes That Fit
No matter how scary or adorable (depending on what you are going for) your kids’ costumes are, they need to fit well. If they are too long or loose, they may cause your children to trip. Additionally, try to avoid masks because they tend to impair vision. Instead, break out the makeup and try to recreate the finishes touches to your children’s costumes yourself.
Walk Smart
First off, never send your child alone to brave the goblins and monsters of the world. Even if you can’t go along with your kids, send them with a large group to help keep them safe. It is also important that your kids stay on sidewalks when possible. And remember, they are not called sideruns. Walking is always the safest form of transportation. Always look both ways before crossing the street and use crosswalks. Jumping out from behind parked cars may be fun for scaring the other kids, but it is not fun for the safety of your kids. Finally, never go up to dark houses. While they may seem a little spooky, they are better off left alone.
By defdriving | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Crosswalks, halloween, safety | Comments (0)
What Should You Do Right After You Get in a Wreck?
October 25, 2012 – 1:44 pm
You see it happening right in front of you, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. In what seems like slow motion, your car collides with another car. And suddenly your car is no longer moving. You have just been in a car accident. Now what? What you do next can make a big difference on your safety and the outcome of the accident.
First, you need to take a minute for yourself.
Take some deep breaths and try to take in what just happened to you. The last thing you want to do is to get out of your car and start going crazy. This will not accomplish anything but giving your friends something to laugh at for many years to come. After you have taken some time to gather your thoughts, you can then start taking action.
Start by calling the cops.
After making sure everyone in your car is okay, it is time to call the police. Even if you are afraid of getting a traffic ticket, it is very important that you do not skip this step. Not only is it a law in most states, it can also save you down the road. Without a police report, it is just a he-said, she-said battle for liability. And never admit that you did anything wrong. No matter what. The cops are trained to assess the situation and properly determine what happened and whose fault it was.
What about the car?
After the cops are on the way, it is time to assess your car and your surroundings. Does your car have minor damage? Then drive it out of the roadway to prevent another car from hitting you. If it is not drivable, put on your hazard lights and keep on your seatbelt. Unless you are in the middle of nowhere, it is a good idea to remain in your car regardless just to prevent any further injuries. Once the cops arrive, you are now free to get out of your vehicle.
Now it is time to become your own detective.
Everyone knows you need to exchange insurance information with the other driver, but you also need to do a little of your own recon work. You never know what information you may need in the future. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, street signs, and current traffic conditions. Not only that, but you should immediately write down any details of the accident that you remember. Even though it may seem unforgettable, the small details will quickly become fuzzy in your memory.
By defdriving | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged 911, safety, wreck | Comments (0)
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7 Car-Maintenance Myths
Feb 27, 2015by Stephen Mraz in A Skeptical Engineer
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Here are seven widespread myths on auto upkeep you shouldn’t blindly follow:
Myth: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Wrong. Follow the advice in the owner’s manual and ignore the self-serving pleas from oil companies and quick-lube shops. Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles can travel 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Changing oil more often certainly won’t harm an engine, just waste money. But if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, trailer-towing, or traveling through mountainous or dusty areas, 3,000 miles between oil changes is a good idea.
DEBUNKING MYTHS WITH A SKEPTICAL ENGINEER
3 Myths Surrounding LEDs
5 Myths About Speaker Wire
6 Myths About Outer Space
Myth: Flush the coolant with every oil change. Most owner manuals recommend changing the coolant every five years or 60,000 miles. But check for a leak if the coolant reservoir is low despite repeatedly topping it off.
Myth: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall. The psi figure on the side of the tire is the maximum pressure the tire will hold safely. If you’re looking for the automaker’s recommended pressure that balances braking, handling, gas mileage, and ride comfort, it’s usually on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door.
Myth: If regular-grade fuel is good, premium must be better. Another expensive mistake. Most vehicles run fine on regular-grade fuel (87 octane). Filling these cars with premium won’t cause damage, but it won’t improve performance, either. Higher-octane fuels are less likely to create pre-ignition problems, so they’re usually used in hotter-running, high-compression engines.
Myth: Warm up your car for several minutes before driving. Outdated advice. Driving the car is the fastest way to warm up a modern engine, and the sooner it warms up, the sooner it delivers the best mileage and performance. And don’t rev the engine during the first few miles.
Myth: Wash your car with dishwashing or laundry detergent. No, not really. Detergents strip off a car’s wax finish. Pay a little extra and stick with the car-wash liquid, which cleans without removing wax.
Myth: A battery will recharge after a jump start in only a few minutes of driving. Not even close. It can take hours of driving to give the battery a full charge, especially in the winter. Heated seats, music systems, and other accessories draw so much power that the alternator has little left to recharge the battery. You can check to see if the battery will still hold a charge by having a load test at a gas station. If it can, several hours may be needed on a battery charger to give the battery a full charge.
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Star investigation: Toronto driving schools bending the rules to make a buck
Transportation Minister Glen Murray vows action as Star reveals scores of driving schools across the GTA are teaching new drivers without ministry approval.
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JESSE MCLEAN / TORONTO STAR Order this photo
Gurmeet Kaur insisted her New Learner’s Driving School in Brampton is ministry approved. It's not.
By: Kenyon Wallace News reporter, Staff Reporter, Published on Tue Mar 05 2013
New drivers across the GTA are entrusting their training to driving schools that are not licensed to teach them, a Star investigation reveals.
A Star reporter posing as a beginner G1 driver found 50 schools willing to offer in-car lessons even though they are not authorized by the province to do so.
Driving instructor Gurmeet Kaur insisted her New Learner’s Driving School in Brampton is approved by the Ministry of Transportation. It’s not.
Instructor Khushwant Rai Mittal told the Star he “sometimes” offers new drivers lessons even after admitting that his Impact Driving School isn’t supposed to.
Artur Duarte Assuncao said he had no idea that he needed provincial approval to offer G1 drivers in-car lessons through his Stop-Automobile Driving School.
These instructors, and dozens of others like them, are able to turn a profit teaching new drivers because the transportation ministry is not monitoring them.
Many of them get around provincial rules by signing a contract with a ministry-approved school and then setting up their own school on the side.
The incentive? More students, more money and cash in hand.
The danger? New drivers are learning from schools operating with little or no oversight.
And drivers beware: insurance companies told the Star that if you are in an accident while taking lessons from these schools you may not be fully protected.
When presented with some of the Star’s findings, newly minted Transportation Minister Glen Murray said there is “clearly more work to do,” adding the ministry is now taking steps to educate new drivers, schools and instructors about the law.
But for parents and students looking to get good driver training now, the industry is a “minefield,” said Anne Marie Hayes, president of Teens Learn to Drive, a Mississauga-based non-profit whose mission is to reduce death and injury from traffic accidents.
“Schools that are not approved are completely unregulated,” Hayes told the Star. “There’s no guarantee the instructor can drive safely, let alone instruct or protect a student.
“A bad school will do more harm than good.”
Ontario introduced graduated licensing in 1994 to ensure new drivers gain experience before being granted full driving privileges.
New drivers first obtain a G1 licence by passing a written test, and can get their G2 licence by passing a road test after 12 months — eight months if they take a ministry-approved course. Drivers then take a second road test a year later to obtain their full G licence.
The provincial course for new drivers, known as beginner driver education, consists of both in-class and in-car instruction. New drivers who complete the ministry course are eligible for a discount on their car insurance when they receive their G2 licence.
With provincial statistics consistently showing that more drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are involved in collisions than any other age group, better oversight and good instruction are key to safety on our roads, Hayes said.
It is not legal for driving instructors to give lessons to a G1 driver unless they do so through a school approved by the Ministry of Transportation.
But instructors looking to make more money have found a way around that.
This is how it works: instructors working for a ministry-approved school take on G1 students using the name of a school they’ve set up on their own. This way, they don’t have to pay an approved school a cut of what they make.
If students request the full ministry-approved course, the instructor will refer them to the approved school for the in-class portion. Some of the instructors the Star spoke with said because the approved schools get the students’ business for the course’s in-class portion, they often don’t care if instructors use their own signs.
The problem with this setup, says Bill Pollock, one of only 15 master instructors in Ontario qualified to teach other instructors, is that when a student takes lessons from an instructor operating under their own school name, there is no way to monitor the quality of instruction.
“There’s no oversight whatsoever for students generated from your own roof sign. Nobody’s watching you. There’s no accountability,” he said.
“An instructor working for an approved school is obligated to follow the proper program, vetted through the Ministry of Transportation. For example, you wouldn’t teach freeway driving in the first couple of lessons as part of an approved program.”
All 50 of the instructors at the non-approved schools the Star spoke with agreed to provide in-car lessons for anywhere between $25 and $45 an hour, money they keep.
A Star reporter posed as a G1 driver to see if schools that are not approved by the ministry to teach beginner drivers would agree to provide an in-car lesson. When the reporter met with instructors in person after being told he could get a lesson, he identified himself and explained the story he was writing.
The Star determined which schools were not ministry-approved by cross-referencing the school names — found in community newspapers, on websites such as Kijiji and Craigslist, and municipal business licence lists — against a list of approved schools on the transportation ministry’s website.
Impact Driving School owner Khushwant Rai Mittal, who operates in Brampton and Mississauga, said he makes more money teaching students under his own school name than he does if the students come through a ministry-approved school.
He charges $30 an hour under his own name, but makes only $25 an hour when teaching students registered with the ministry-approved school he works with.
Mittal told the Star he plans to leave the driving-instruction industry at the end of March with the hope of taking on a more lucrative job driving trucks.
“In this business, there is no stability. Sometimes you make money, sometimes you don’t,” said Mittal, who estimates that he makes between $20,000 and $30,000 a year as a driving instructor.
“It’s very tough.”
Many schools that are not ministry approved have slick, professional-looking ads and websites that use the phrase “ministry-approved course,” and blatantly advertise that they teach G1 drivers.
Gurmeet Kaur’s New Learner’s Driving School, for example, used to advertise as Aknoor’s Driving Training and claimed online that it provided a “ministry-approved course” and a “40% insurance discount,” with a “100% guarantee to pass first time.”
When the Star set up a lesson with Kaur, she said her school was licensed by both the province and the City of Brampton.
Not so.
A small plate issued by the city on the back of Kaur’s vehicle is in fact registered to Auto Star Driver Training, which is ministry approved. The sign on the top of her car is for her own school, New Learner’s Driving School.
Kaur charges $20 an hour for in-car lessons, and said if her Brampton students request a full beginner driver course, she refers them to Auto Star for the in-class portion of the course at a cost of $135, which is paid to the school.
Auto Star owner Harbhajan Dhaul confirmed that Kaur is an instructor with his school, and said he has warned her to stop using her own sign when teaching G1 students.
“The contract very clearly says you must use the Auto Star sign for instruction,” said Dhaul, noting that he can do little to stop employees from using their own signs.
Gurdeep Singh’s Auto Deep Driver Training School is not ministry approved, but he agreed to meet a Star reporter posing as a G1 driver for a lesson in Brampton.
He said he could provide the full beginner driver education course for $400 by referring students to a ministry-approved school for the course’s in-class portion. Of the $400, he said he would pay the school $130 and keep the rest, netting him $270.
Singh told the Star some ministry-approved driving-school operators don’t care if instructors teach under their own school name if the instructor finds the student on their own.
“When you have your own student, OK, you can use your sign,” said Singh.
Artur Duarte Assuncao, owner of Stop-Automobile Driving School in Toronto, said he had no knowledge of the rule preventing non-ministry approved schools from teaching G1 drivers.
Assuncao, 76, said his school used to be approved to provide the full beginner driver course, but isn’t now that he is semi-retired. He still maintains a City of Toronto business licence to provide in-car lessons and said he thought he could teach G1 drivers even though he is not affiliated with a ministry-approved school.
“I didn’t know that,” he told the Star.
Assuncao, who charges $35 per lesson, said that when potential students call asking for the full beginner driver course, he makes it clear that he does not offer it.
“I’m a man of laws.”
Rocco Neglia, vice-president of claims for Economical Insurance, one of a handful of insurance companies in Ontario that offer coverage to driving schools and instructors, warns that there could be trouble for G1 drivers if they are in an accident while taking lessons from a non-ministry approved school.
Neglia says that if the instructor does not disclose that their vehicle is being used for third-party driving instruction, the insurance company “may not respond to the physical damage to the vehicle because they were not aware of the risk, or to the liability portion beyond strict minimum liability coverage.”
“The G1 student driver would be entitled to mandatory accident benefits from the instructor’s coverage, but would likely not receive any income replacement benefits,” he told the Star in an email.
The ministry currently audits approved schools every three to five years, but will do so more often if complaints are received. Driving instructors caught teaching G1 drivers when they aren’t supposed to can have their licences revoked.
Since 2007, ministry-approved driving schools have been required to pay the province $15 for every student they enrol. This money, approximately $2.1 million annually, is supposed to assist the ministry in overseeing new driver education, including enforcing the rules.
“That was the deal. We pay the money and they’ll clean up the industry. Well, carry on and clean it up,” said Peter Christianson, president of Young Drivers of Canada, Ontario’s largest driving school. “Money that is earned from road safety should go back into road safety.”
There are 193 driving schools in the GTA approved by the province to offer lessons to new drivers and nearly 6,000 licensed driving instructors across Ontario.
The instructors of the schools the Star met with that are not approved by the province to teach G1 drivers said they believed they were operating legally. Many complained of confusing rules with competing provincial and municipal jurisdictions.
Several municipalities, including Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto, issue business licences to driving schools even though these schools may not be approved by the province to teach G1 drivers — they can still teach G2 drivers.
“This lack of communication and alignment between cities and the province is a big part of the problem,” said master instructor Pollock. “It is just this sort of confusion and nonsense that creates wiggle room for schools to claim they are following the rules when indeed they are not.”
On its website, the Ministry of Transportation warns new drivers to “choose carefully” when deciding on a school. “Look for schools that offer MTO-approved beginner driver education courses or ministry-approved driver education courses,” the site says. “Beginner driving schools in Ontario are regulated by MTO.”
Transportation Minister Murray told the Star he has asked his ministry to review its “enforcement and oversight options for driver education.”
He said every new G1 driver in Ontario will be receiving a notice with a link to a list of all ministry-approved schools and information on the benefits of choosing such a school.
But Gurdip Atwal, president of the Driving Instructors Association of Ontario and owner of Starlite Driver Training in Guelph and Cambridge, described the minister’s response as a “political answer.”
“We’ve been hearing that for a long, long time. There’s nothing new,” Atwal said.
Instead, Atwal proposes that the government leave the driving-instruction industry altogether. He suggests the creation of a self-regulating body — much like the colleges that exist for doctors and lawyers — that would handle auditing, training and discipline.
“The ministry shouldn’t be here because they truly don’t understand the industry,” Atwal said. “The industry is crying out that there are bad apples and we’re suffering, but nobody does anything about it . . . We are professionals. We teach people and their lives depend on that.”
Have you ever had a bad experience with a driving school? Let us know. Contact Kenyon Wallace at kwallace@thestar.ca or 416-869-4734.
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April 18th Bill Crothers course filling up. Amazing!
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