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On The Road

Onlia Winter Safety Index

More intoxicated drivers are expected to get behind the wheel this year. See what else we discovered in our latest study.

by Alex Kelly
Impaired driving and holiday thefts are new COVID-19 related concerns this holiday season. The Onlia Winter Safety Index, a newly released study hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, clarifies that seasonal trends are changing this year — but not necessarily for the better. 

The study found that 44% of Ontarians with home or auto insurance believe driving under the influence of alcohol is more likely this holiday season, with 41% believing that cannabis is more likely. As people opt for private vehicles to avoid virus transmission on public transportation, this could spell disaster for roads. Alex Kelly, Onlia Safety Ambassador, urges drivers to plan ahead this holiday season.

"There is never a case where driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a good or safe idea. Designate a sober driver, plan to stay the night, or take public transit, protecting everyone on the road," reminds Kelly.

Consequences of parties don't just rest with the guests, but the host as well. Onlia's Winter Safety Index found that only two-thirds of polled Ontarians know that celebration hosts are legally responsible for ensuring that their guests do not drive impaired.

"Many don't realize that they may be responsible for their guests' actions if they serve people past the point of intoxication on their property," said Kelly. "Onlia is reminding hosts that if they choose to have people over this holiday season, to respect public health guidelines and ensure that guests have a safe ride home."

Despite increasing public health guidelines and potential lockdowns, the survey reveals many Ontarians are planning trips this winter. While most are planning day trips (64%), there are still plans to travel out of province (15%) and even to the United States (6%). Concerning is the lack of self-isolation or quarantine upon arrival — approximately two-thirds of respondents aren't planning on taking these protective measures upon arrival.

For those staying at home, the Onlia Winter Safety Index highlights further changes, all in light of current COVID-19 restrictions. Online shopping is expected to increase, with half of Ontarians with home insurance planning to make most purchases online and 6% admitting to being first time online shoppers.

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This shift towards online retailers is not without risk, however. "Porch pirates" have been taking advantage of the increase in deliveries, stealing gifts from porches, mailrooms, and front doors.

"Onlia knows a theft can be devastating, leaving people feeling vulnerable. The good news is that you may be protected through your home insurance policy," shares Fernand Vartanian, General Counsel at Onlia. He adds that "Shoppers should track their packages and opt for delivery services that provide proof of delivery. This will help you make a claim in the event that something does go missing."

While porch pirates may be a concern this season, it’s good to know that Ontarians are preparing for the winter elements — nine out of ten residents have equipped their car with snow tires, ice scrapers, and emergency kits. However, don't let your vehicle's safety give you a false sense of security about winter driving, as Kelly cautions:

"We found that, while respondents felt confident in their car maintenance, only 40% said they felt confident in dangerous scenarios, such as a car break-down or whiteout conditions. Not everyone indicated they could handle hazards like black ice or wildlife encounters. It is key to prepare ahead of time and practice your winter driving skills."

Your vehicle is only as safe as the person driving it — so it's imperative to stay alert, be aware of changing weather conditions, and know how to handle inclement weather if (and when) it happens on the road.

Onlia's Winter Safety Index has revealed some interesting insights when it comes to travel and transportation for Canadians this year. If there's anything 2020 has taught us, it's to expect the unexpected — we can't wait to see what the year ahead brings.

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