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Drinking and driving is not only illegal, it is socially and morally irresponsible. Despite the horrific costs of impaired driving, measured not only in lives lost, injuries sustained and damage to property, the practice still continues.

Don't Drink & DriveMany Ontario drivers don't realize they lose important insurance protection if they are convicted of a drinking and driving offense. The financial consequences that they and their families will suffer in terms of loss of coverage's can be considerable.

Did you know, your insurance company will not pay for loss or damage to your vehicle if you are unable to maintain proper control of your vehicle because you are driving under the influence of intoxicating substances? Likewise, your insurance company will not pay for loss or damage if you are convicted of an offence such as impaired driving, driving with more than 80mg of alcohol in the blood or if you refuse to provide a breath sample.

Whether you drive a car, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, you could face life-long financial devastation by losing your income replacement benefits if you suffer a critical injury, or, at the very least, you could destroy your vehicle and get nothing for the value of it.

Please don't drink and drive.

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Prior to August 1998, if you had an accident involving a pleasurecraft for which you were responsible, the size of the vessel dictated the amount for which you could be held legally liable for any injury caused to another person or damage to their property. Previously your liability was limited to less than $200,000 depending on the size of your boat. This changed with an amendment to the Canada Shipping Act. The liability limits were increased to $1 million in the event of death or personal injury, plus $500,000 for damage caused to someone else's property, for a new total limit of $1,500,000. While carrying insurance is not compulsory for those owning or operating a pleasurecraft, the change in the law emphasizes the importance of carrying adequate liability insurance.

Jet SkiPleasurecraft owners also should be aware there is proposed legislation that will limit those who can operate such craft in Canada. This new legislation is based on the age and experience of the operator. By way of example, this new legislation proposes that no person under the age of 12 will be allowed to operate a boat that has an engine greater than 10 horsepower unless supervised by a competent person over the age of 16. For ages 12 to 15, the limit will be 40 horsepower and these individuals will have to be likewise supervised. Operators over the age of 16 will be expected to demonstrate a level of competence to the satisfaction of the Canadian Coast Guard before being granted an operator's license. Operators under the age of 16 will not be allowed to operate certain classes of vessels such as personal watercraft, and it will be necessary for such operators to have proof of age during operation.

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The Graduated Licensing system was put in place in Ontario a couple of years ago to cut the risks new drivers face. Statistics show new drivers are more likely to get into automobile accidents which are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 24.

The program is divided into three distinct license levels: One, Two and a Full Drivers License. Level One licensees must be at least 16 years of age, pass an eyesight test and pass a written test of their understanding of the rules of the road. There are five other Level One conditions:

  • a fully licensed driver, licensed at least four years, must accompany drivers in the front seat at all times and that person must have a blood alcohol level less than .05%;
  • the driver's own blood alcohol level must be zero;
  • drivers must not drive between midnight and 5 a.m.;
  • a seat belt must be available for each occupant; and
  • drivers are not allowed to operate any vehicle on Ontario's 400-series highways or on Ontario's high speed expressways, such as the Queen Elizabeth Way or the Don Valley Parkway.

Level One lasts a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of five years, but can be reduced to eight months if the new licensee successfully completed an Approved Driver Education Course.

Level Two licensees must pass a road test after completion of Level One and can expect to stay in the second phase for a minimum of 12 months. There are two conditions for this level:

  • drivers must have a blood alcohol level of zero; and
  • a seat belt must be available for each occupant.

To qualify for a Full License, a licensee must pass a road test at the end of Level Two. For new drivers in Ontario, it takes at least 20 months to earn full driving privileges.

If the police stop a Level One or Level Two driver for any reason, and the driver is charged with and convicted of breaking any of the above conditions, that driver's license will be suspended for 30 days.

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Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer - and for good reason. This colourless, odorless and tasteless gas overcomes and kills hundreds of people each year.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is created by the incomplete combustion of any fossil fuel. Furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, gas appliances (stoves, ovens, clothes dryers) and water heaters are all common sources of carbon monoxide. Faulty ventilation and malfunctioning appliances can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home. That's why the installation of a carbon monoxide detector in your home is crucial.

These detectors measure the level of carbon monoxide present in the atmosphere in parts per million. When the sensor detects a predetermined level of the gas in the air an alarm sounds.

When choosing a carbon monoxide detector always look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved logo on the unit before you buy. Once purchased, carefully read the instructions for proper installation and follow all maintenance suggestions. Although carbon monoxide detectors are important for home safety, they should not replace an annual inspection of heating and other gas producing appliances by a competent professional.

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The Toronto Star's "Wheels" column about the new Bugatti Veyron vehicle.

The Toronto Star's "How an ATM scam unravelled" about Canada's biggest debit-card fraud that netted $1.2 million.

CBC News "Grand Theft Auto" about car thieves who don't break into the car, they just ask for the keys.

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