Recklessly fast, aggressive driving in Newfoundland and Labrador has claimed the lives of 19 people in 12 collisions in the past two months, police in the Atlantic province say, pushing insurers to raise the premiums for bad drivers as a deterrent, to rates that are some of the highest in the country.
While the number of collisions is down versus three years ago in some parts of the province, and total fatal crashes just below last year’s numbers, local traffic enforcement still regularly clocks drivers going more than 140 km/h and, during a safety campaign late September, even as high as 173 km/h, according to a report from the Canadian Press.
“I feel safer in California. I feel safer in New York. I feel safer in Ontario,” Tom Hickey, president of Wedgwood Insurance, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s major providers, was quoted by the newswire. He called the province’s fast, aggressive driving culture “insane.”
“You go to a city like Toronto and people merge, traffic flows, but here, if you’re trying to merge in, the person in the lane is like, No, you’re not getting ahead of me.”
Hickey sent a message to his clients across Newfoundland last week telling them his company would work specifically to ensure drivers caught speeding would pay the highest premiums possible—“Maybe that will slow you down.”
Newfoundland and Labrador not only has a higher frequency of claims, but also a higher cost-per-claim than other Atlantic provinces, the Press quoted Tom O’Handley of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
As a result, while the average yearly premium for vehicle insurance last summer was $813 in Nova Scotia, and $775 in both New Brunswick and P.E.I., drivers on the island of Newfoundland typically paid $1,117, one of the highest averages in Canada.
Some 26 people have died in 19 incidents in 2017 so far, police in the province report, versus 30 deaths across 21 incidents by the same time last year. Over the past six years, the average has been about 28 incidents and 30 to 32 deaths per year.
Traffic enforcement officials in Newfoundland and Labrador blame not only overly fast and overly aggressive driving, but also impaired and distracted driving, and occupants not wearing seatbelts. Police say they’re stepping up patrols targeting dangerous drivers, and the province’s Public Utilities Board is investigating its auto insurance policies.
(The Canadian Press via CTVNews.ca)