Created on Friday, 12 November 2010
Recently, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) went to Ottawa in a bid to persuade the federal government to impose restrictions on the importation of right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles into Canada.
The Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) strongly endorses this initiative as well.
More than 6,000 right-hand drive vehicles have been imported into Canada in recent years. Importation is allowed under a "regulatory loophole" that permits vehicles to enter the country by sidestepping the Canadian Motor Vehicle Standards and national environmental standards
The majority of RHD vehicles in Canada originate from Japan (currently between 2,000 and 3,000 per year). These imported vehicles are older than 15 years, and they are not covered by Transport Canada's safety standards due to their date of manufacture. Older, imported vehicles are much more likely to significantly contribute to smog and pollution.
Japan (where RHD is the norm) has very strict rules for barring the use of older vehicles on its roads, which is why so many of them wind up being dumped onto the Canadian market, where our import restrictions are less strict than other countries.
What's wrong with right hand drive? Nothing, other than safety concerns and air pollution. These cars aren't designed for our roads, and thus pose a greater safety risk in this country than left-hand drive vehicles.
The headlights of vehicles manufactured for sale in specific countries are set up to illuminate more of the roadway directly in front of the driver and to aim less of the light into the path of oncoming traffic. Likewise, the driver has a greater field view ahead, if they are seated behind the wheel positioned next to the passing lane.
The driver's eye contact with oncoming traffic and other drivers is also impaired if he/she is seated on the wrong side of the vehicle.
In 2007, the Insurance Board of British Columbia (IBBC) conducted a study, which found that RHD vehicles had a 40 per cent higher accident rate than left-hand drive vehicles. A similar study in Quebec showed a 30 per cent higher accident rate.
Several weeks ago, a 20 year-old motorist (driving a 1992 Nissan 330ZX, with RHD) was involved in a traffic accident, resulting in the deaths of an Ottawa couple. The couple was run down at a bus stop.
Quebec and Prince Edward Island are the only provinces that have altered their licensing practices to keep older vehicles off the roads. CADA and TADA strongly support legislation that would make it illegal to import these older, RHD vehicles into Canada.
CADA has reported that many of these Japanese-imported RHD vehicles are often modified and used for "street racing and other reckless acts," which further underscores the need for updated legislation.
At the very least, TADA and CADA are urging the Government of Canada to follow the examples of the United States and Australia, which have extended the age requirement of older vehicles to 25 years.
Our government's hitherto resistance in enacting legislation that would clamp down on the import of right-hand drive vehicles is at odds with a current program aimed at removing older vehicles from our roads.
In 2009, the Government of Canada launched Retire Your Ride, which provides older vehicle owners with incentives to get high-emission vehicles off the road.
According to the Retire Your Ride web site, the program has far exceeded its goal of removing 50,000 of the most polluting vehicles from our roads (99,795 vehicles have been permanently retired to date).
A law that forbids dumping older, right-hand drive vehicles into Canada would go a long way towards keeping Canadian roads and drivers safe and it would be consistent with the government's efforts with Retire Your Ride.