Drive Safely Work Week on October, 2017: Can I drive an insured car without insurance?

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Can I drive an insured car without insurance?

With 15 years as a broker in Ontario, I've been asked this a few hundred times. And believe it or not, it's a yes and a no. That's because there are 2 sets of laws governing this stuff.

Under the cold hard traffic laws, you're legal to drive. In all of Canada and USA, you need three things in order to legally drive someone's car: Valid licence, the vehicle must be insured by its owner, and the owner's permission. As long as you have all three of those and can prove each one, you're legal.

Cops only check to see if the vehicle has valid insurance coverage on it, and they don't care about listed drivers on the policy. They don't even have access to that information. So if a cop stopped you and you showed them the insurance card, you'd be totally good.

Under contract law, and an insurance policy is a contract, not so much. There is a clause in every policy saying that if material non-disclosure or misrepresentation occurs, the insurer can refuse to cover a claim and the contract will be voided. And trust me, they're dead serious about that stuff. You'd maybe get away with it if you literally got your G2 last week and your folks haven't had time to notify them yet, but don't push it longer than that. The #1 way to get screwed by an insurer is when people 'forget' to have new drivers listed on the policy.

THE CATCH: There isn't one for you, just for your parents. They own the car, so they're legally responsible for it and any damage it does. If they give you permission to drive and you get into an accident, that's not your problem. Any tickets you get will be your problem, but the accident is theirs. If the insurance company refuses to pay for the damage, that's the owner's problem and not the driver's. That's why permission to drive is so blasted important.

Changing lanes while driving!!?

Changing lanes while driving!!?

There are a few things you can do to change lanes safely.

MIRRORS

One thing that helps quite a bit when changing lanes is moving your side mirrors so that you reduce the overlap between the rearview mirror and the side mirrors.

Most people adjust their side mirrors to see the side of their own car. This is a redundant use of the side mirrors and creates a large blind spot between the area covered by the side mirrors and your peripheral vision.

Follow the guidelines in the motorists.com guidelines below and you'll reduce the overlap of side mirrors and rearview mirror significantly, allowing you to have a much better picture of the road behind you and to the sides.

You'll need a little adjustment time to train yourself to use your rearview mirror for the majority of the direct-behind view, but this doesn't take long.

Also, for longer vehicles like vans and SUVs, you may need to refine their instructions a bit to get it just right.

This new mirror position doesn't eliminate the need to glance left or right, but it definitely helps.

PLAN AHEAD

Changing lanes can also be made easier if you plan ahead. Watch the road ahead and behind and make note of cars, their speeds, and the gaps. By making yourself aware of your surroundings at all times, your lane changes won't be last-second skin-of-your-teeth manouevers that scare the living daylights out of your passengers and other drivers. :)

USE YOUR SIGNALS

This may sound obvious, but lots of drivers don't realize that the turn indicators are intended to make other drivers aware of your intentions, not your movements. Let them know before you do something so they can make adjustments to avoid an accident. Some drivers are hyper-aggressive ego-maniacs and respond to the turn signal as a threat to their ego. Let these guys pass; their aggro tactics will get them in trouble sooner or later, and you really don't want to be involved.

MAINTAIN/ADJUST SPEED

Finally, make sure that when you do execute the lane change, you maintain/adjust speed accordingly. Lots of people change lanes going slower than the lane they are moving into. This disrupts traffic flow and creates the potential for an accident. Since you've been paying attention to traffic around you, you know how fast you need to be going to merge smoothly. If the difference in speeds is greater than your car's acceleration can handle, consider waiting out another opportunity in your current lane. Going 5mph slower than you'd like to is much preferable to going from 60mph to zero in a split second and dealing with a car accident.

Good luck!

Driving cross country alone..?

Driving cross country alone..?

I took a solid week, but I also dilly-dallied through Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Take a LOT of good music on CD (no slow stuff, but stuff you know the words to is best), grab some 5 Hour Fuel or whatever energy drink you like, and don't fear the occasional stop to stretch your legs and walk around. A lot of state highway rest areas are great for that, and in most states you can sleep in them in your car for up to 8 hours. This allows you to drive farther when you feel up to it, without stopping before you're ready because you made a hotel reservation.

You don't want to live off the 5 hours fuel, but you want it ready if you feel yourself fading. Another thing that works for me personally is sunflower seeds. Snacking on them is mindless, but keeps me from nodding off on the long haul.

Oh crud: Just realized you were a girl... ;) Sorry, but some good safety points: If you take my rest area advice, only use the really populated ones. Stay on the larger highways. Fill up, and fill up often. Don't take a chance when you're below half tank that you'll find another station later. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in an area 30 miles from a station and no cell signal.

Have a baseball bat or golf club in the car, unless you can get approval to carry a duty piece en route.

Oh, and double check the route. I've had GPS route me through podunk side streets instead of major highways. Check Google, Mapquest, Yahoo, and MSN. Compare the routes.

Also on this date Sunday, October 1, 2017...