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What if? 10 questions facing motorists today

Created on Friday, 07 January 2011

Here are a series of questions based on conversations I had this past year with Wheels readers, consumers, suppliers and industry representatives. They are indicative of some of the wider issues facing motorists today.

Of course, for some of them, there is no answer.

  1. What if the price of a barrel of crude oil rises above $150?
    Many economists are forecasting continued future upward pressure on gasoline prices. Judging by the choice of hybrid models now available and soon-to-arrive plug-in electric vehicles, manufacturers see this as a market changer. They are actively rethinking their products and shortening their introduction dates. Look for many new offerings this year.
  2. What if Toronto, with government support, installed electric vehicle charging stations at airports, GO station parking lots and city owned facilities? Would this initiative hasten the growth of this segment and, as a result, become an additional source of revenue, thus justifying the investment?
  3. What if all tire pressure sensors were of one design on all makes and models?
    This device is fitted on the inside of every wheel (including the spare) on today's vehicles. Different designs complicate diagnosing, tire and wheel servicing and flat tire repairs. This is a growing area of consumer frustration. Interestingly, the traditional tire valve and valve stem system used throughout the industry for decades was common to all makes and models.
  4. What if Jarvis St. was restored to its original five-lane configuration?
    This controversial Toronto issue saw the removal of the reversible centre lane to create bike lanes on Jarvis, thus limiting the ability for "flexible" vehicular traffic flow on this major city artery. "Managed Lanes" is an established grid-lock strategy, used in many densely populated cities.
  5. What if the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) was uniformly enforced on all road users, and for all types of conveyances? The act assumes a basic knowledge of the rules of the road (i.e., obeying stop signals and keeping to the right on a roadway).
  6. What if tow trucks and their drivers were provincially regulated?
    The recent snowstorm in western Ontario (stranded motorists on Hwy 402 faced $700-plus towing charges) underscores the need for regulation at the provincial level.
  7. What if the City of Toronto re-gifted the lease of a one-metre strip of land (on the south side of Eglinton Ave. at the Allen intersection) back to the province?
    Originally, this "gift" was intended to forever block extending the roadway south.
  8. What if we impound the motorist (instead of their vehicle) for driving without a valid driver's license or insurance?
    When an unlicensed or suspended driver is stopped by the police, the vehicle being driven (no matter who owns it) is subject to impoundment and very difficult and expensive to get released. Once charged, the driver is free to go, albeit on foot or otherwise but without the vehicle.
    The lesson here is: never allow others to drive your vehicle unless you are positive they have a valid license. To check the validity of an Ontario driver's license, (for a fee) visit: www.mto.gov.on.ca or telephone 1-900-565-6555.
  9. What if all vehicle-related taxes, including fuel taxes (with the exception of the HST) were directed towards road and transit improvements?
    Currently, most of the "many" vehicle-related taxes and fees go into general revenues and, as a result, the current infrastructure lacks funding for necessary maintenance and expansion.
  10. And finally, what if winter tires were mandatory in Ontario, between Dec. 15h and March 15?
    Quebec introduced such a law in 2008. Transport Quebec reported that during the first two years of the new law, winter accidents were reduced by 18 per cent. Easier traffic movement during snow storms is an additional benefit.

Go back to Cohen Editorials 2011 »

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