Spike in business no accident

Terry Roberts
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Despite lack of snow, autobody repair shops are busy; cite increases in traffic, lifestyle changes

Those who work in autobody repair in St. John's say business has been brisk, despite the absence of snow and ice on the roads.

They say it's a reflection of a growing city with more vehicles on the streets, distractions such as cellphones, and more demanding life-styles.

Body works automobile painter Dennis Penney clear coats the rear door frame of a 2006 Ford Explorer in one of the painting bays at Bodyworks Wednesday afternoon. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Those who work in autobody repair in St. John's say business has been brisk, despite the absence of snow and ice on the roads.

They say it's a reflection of a growing city with more vehicles on the streets, distractions such as cellphones, and more demanding life-styles.

"I've been in this business for 20 years. I've never seen it like this," said Wayne Murphy, an appraiser at Collision Ex-perts on Kenmount Road.

Until recent years, the period after September until the first snowfall was usually a slow time for those who fix cars after they've been in an accident.

Some autobody shops would even issue layoffs, and it wasn't uncommon for some technicians to be standing around with their hands in their pockets instead of gripping a sander, clanging sheet metal or wielding a paint gun.

"I remember when it was like somebody had turned off a switch after September. Business would just drop," said Gordon Healey, owner of Healey's Autobody Shop on Empire Avenue.

That's no longer the case.

People like Healey and Ron Bavis, manager of Bodyworks on O'Leary Avenue, say there's no longer a slow period in their business.

"People were lined up here this morning for estimates," Bavis said.

Healey began to notice a change three or four years ago. He said the nosedive in business that would usually occur after schools opened in September has disappeared.

The hustle and bustle is now year-round.

Healey and others believe there are simply more accidents.

"People got a lot more on the go than they used to. It seems like everybody is in a hurry," Healey said.

Murphy sees far more rear-enders, a trend he blames on inattentive drivers.

"I can only imagine what's going to happen when we get ice and snow," he said.

Some customers are having to wait two and three weeks to get an appointment, and a shortage of skilled technicians is making it difficult for some businesses to meet the demand.

"It's a busy city," Murphy added.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary report that between Nov. 1, 2007 and the end of October, there were 4,139 accidents reported in the St. John's region.

That's 452 more than the same period a year ago, said Sgt. Paul Murphy, supervisor of the RNC's traffic section.

But Murphy is not concerned that it may be an upward trend.

If previous years are any indication, he said it's possible the number of accidents could fall again next year.

He said the problem is that drivers don't slow down.

"We would have less accidents if people would drive more attentively and slow down," he said.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Autobody Shop, Healey and Ron Bavis

Geographic location: St. John's, Kenmount Road, O'Leary Avenue

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Recent comments

  • Donny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Sending a text message while driving has to be the worst distraction ever! I see this everyday now. The idiot with the dog on their lap has to be a close second. Also, I've had cars try to pass me while I was doing the posted 30kmh on the Outer Ring off ramp to Pippy Park......an off ramp!!! I do enjoy watching the accident segment of the 6pm news......ah, poetic justice!

  • Will
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Carlson from Cupids, Newfoundland writes: I guess you don't stop either Will. Talk about being a hypocrite.

    I don't drive.

  • Hank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Joey from NL: You are absolutely correct on that. Virtually no one takes the inside lane when turning. People here in NL cross over into the next lane immediately. I was taught to take the first lane you enter and then signal (for permission) before changing lanes because you DO NOT have right of way. I have an international driver's licence and have driven all over the world. Newfoundlanders are close to the bottom in first world countries with regards to driver intelligence.

  • gary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    I agree with you 110% Doug. I too see the soon to be accidents each day on my trip to and from work. Between the cell phones and the speed racers it is a wonder if you can get to work with out someone cutting you off... Just this AM I was almost rear ended by some young girl near MUN who looked like she was TEXTING on her cell. Bad enough that she was on the cell phone, but also typing also.
    Where are the RNC when you need them!!!!
    This is a normal day in the city with cell phones... I have a 15 min drive to work and I can see about 10 people each way on cell phones... For a So called law, it is not very much enforced...

  • Will
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    NO ONE (not one, zero, nadda, without exception) stops at stop signs in my area. The brake lights do not even come on to indicate they have their foot on the brake pedal to slow down.

    Do what you want, there will be no enforcement anyways...

  • Bubbles
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Carlson from Cupids responds to his own assumption with another assumption. Brilliant.

  • Carlson
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    I guess you don't stop either Will. Talk about being a hypocrite.

  • flexa08
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Enforcement?

  • Joey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Sorry,

    by inside lane I mean the one closest to you.

  • Yvonne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    It's also a good bit cheaper to fix up a vehicle then to buy a new one. New car ownership has slipped the grasp of a LOT of people. So we bandage up what we have and make do. (All this while the bigwigs of the 'big three' automakers fly their personal jets to Washington seeking bailouts. Geesh!)

  • Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    When painting, WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!

  • Carlson
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    It sickens me that so many people try and blame the police for the problems we have. The police can't be everywhere, nor can they see everything. I was pulled over a couple of weeks ago because I was going a little too fast and the officer thought I was talking on my cell (I had my hand up to the side of my head, but I did not have me cell in the vehicle with me). So they are doing their job. I bet some of you know people who smoke drugs, sell drugs, or do something illegal. Do you bother to call the police and inform them of that?

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    just check cell phone records after rear end collisions you will be amazed that drivers were on the phone when the accident happened.the other day iwitnessed a rear ender the driver was slumped in the seat but looking for her make up container and cell phone .i thought she was seriously injured not a scratch!

  • Carlson
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I guess everybody who drives should have an escort from the RNC or RCMP sit in their car with them. People are so ignorant when it comes to police officers. How many RNC officers work in St. John's? I have no idea, but I understand that they don't have enough to catch every person who is talking on a cell phone. Doug and Garry, I wonder why you guys don't record the license plates of these vehicles and file a complaint with the RNC or RCMP?

  • Joey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    There is also an epidemic here in St. John's.

    When turning left onto two lanes of traffic, you are supposed to take the INSIDE lane, virtually no one here does it.

    At an intersection, when drivers are facing eachother one can turn and the other can turn left IF YOU BOTH GO INTO THE CORRECT LANE.

    I'm from Nova Scotia and when I moved here it was the first time I observed this behaviour.

  • I
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Joe from NL writes: When painting, WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!

    Excellent point. Spraying anything other than pure water (and at low pressure) is just too dumb for words. Especially when your name and mug graces the local newspaper.

  • P
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    The only way I know how to prevent getting rearended or rearending someone myself is to drive slower when there are cars ahead or behind me...I'm no speed demon anyway, and I try to be aware of keeping a couple of car lengths behind another car and keeping an eye on what's going on behind me - which could be a tailgater or impatient driver wanting to speed up - I just keep steady at around 50-60 kms. regardless. And winter driving..I abhore it! Not because of my driving..but because of those reckless drivers you speak of Doug..it's scary out there!!

  • Eric
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I agree 100% with Doug and Gary about the increased cell-phone use and excessive speeds by both sexes of drivers. I am retired 3 years and before that I arrived at my business about 7.30am and left at 6.30pm. Because of that I didn't see the idiots that I see now. It is pathetic how drivers in todays's environment get away with it. I don't know how many tickets have been issued for cell phone usage in the last 5 years that the law has been in effect. I still can't get my head around the idea that a vast amount of drivers feel that they have the right to drive at any speed that they wish with no regard for life or other's rights. I just drive now to my places of interest and shake my head and wonder why.
    Most normal drivers can tell when they are behind another driver if they are on the phone, texting, doing make-up, reading the paper or any other idiotic task because they drive in and out and back and forth the lane.
    Another thing! Next time you see someone of the phone or speeding, look around, there is also a police car in the area but he or she aren't stopping, why get out of the car and give a ticket. Forget it, it isn't worth it. They rather go to accidents rather than prevent them.
    Oh woe is me! Another day driving in St. John's

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    In my 6-7 minute drive to work each morning I am guaranteed to see at least one oversized SUV stuffed with teenagers including a 17 or 18 year old driver going about 80 km/hr, at least several so-called executive businessmen driving holding cell phones to their ears with one hand and a Tim Horton's cup in the other going about 70 km/hr, and women going the same speed while doing their makeup in the rear view mirror. I'm amazed there aren't fender-benders on every corner every morning. Where are the RNC while all of this is going on?

  • Carlson
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I guess Doug and Gary drive with their hands at 10 and 2 without listening to the radio or anything. You guys must be paying too much attention to what other drivers are doing if you can see them texting, or putting on makeup. On my way to work this morning while driving on the highway in the passing lane at a speed of 110 km/h, the middle aged man who was in the inside lane decided to pull out in front of me when I was but a few feet from him. I had to lock on my brakes to avoid slamming into him. I must add that he was not on a cell phone, not doing his makeup, and appeared to have both hands on the steering wheel.

  • Donny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Sending a text message while driving has to be the worst distraction ever! I see this everyday now. The idiot with the dog on their lap has to be a close second. Also, I've had cars try to pass me while I was doing the posted 30kmh on the Outer Ring off ramp to Pippy Park......an off ramp!!! I do enjoy watching the accident segment of the 6pm news......ah, poetic justice!

  • Will
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Carlson from Cupids, Newfoundland writes: I guess you don't stop either Will. Talk about being a hypocrite.

    I don't drive.

  • Hank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Joey from NL: You are absolutely correct on that. Virtually no one takes the inside lane when turning. People here in NL cross over into the next lane immediately. I was taught to take the first lane you enter and then signal (for permission) before changing lanes because you DO NOT have right of way. I have an international driver's licence and have driven all over the world. Newfoundlanders are close to the bottom in first world countries with regards to driver intelligence.

  • gary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    I agree with you 110% Doug. I too see the soon to be accidents each day on my trip to and from work. Between the cell phones and the speed racers it is a wonder if you can get to work with out someone cutting you off... Just this AM I was almost rear ended by some young girl near MUN who looked like she was TEXTING on her cell. Bad enough that she was on the cell phone, but also typing also.
    Where are the RNC when you need them!!!!
    This is a normal day in the city with cell phones... I have a 15 min drive to work and I can see about 10 people each way on cell phones... For a So called law, it is not very much enforced...

  • Will
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    NO ONE (not one, zero, nadda, without exception) stops at stop signs in my area. The brake lights do not even come on to indicate they have their foot on the brake pedal to slow down.

    Do what you want, there will be no enforcement anyways...

  • Bubbles
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Carlson from Cupids responds to his own assumption with another assumption. Brilliant.

  • Carlson
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    I guess you don't stop either Will. Talk about being a hypocrite.

  • flexa08
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Enforcement?

  • Joey
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Sorry,

    by inside lane I mean the one closest to you.

  • Yvonne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    It's also a good bit cheaper to fix up a vehicle then to buy a new one. New car ownership has slipped the grasp of a LOT of people. So we bandage up what we have and make do. (All this while the bigwigs of the 'big three' automakers fly their personal jets to Washington seeking bailouts. Geesh!)

  • Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    When painting, WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!

  • Carlson
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    It sickens me that so many people try and blame the police for the problems we have. The police can't be everywhere, nor can they see everything. I was pulled over a couple of weeks ago because I was going a little too fast and the officer thought I was talking on my cell (I had my hand up to the side of my head, but I did not have me cell in the vehicle with me). So they are doing their job. I bet some of you know people who smoke drugs, sell drugs, or do something illegal. Do you bother to call the police and inform them of that?

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    just check cell phone records after rear end collisions you will be amazed that drivers were on the phone when the accident happened.the other day iwitnessed a rear ender the driver was slumped in the seat but looking for her make up container and cell phone .i thought she was seriously injured not a scratch!

  • Carlson
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    I guess everybody who drives should have an escort from the RNC or RCMP sit in their car with them. People are so ignorant when it comes to police officers. How many RNC officers work in St. John's? I have no idea, but I understand that they don't have enough to catch every person who is talking on a cell phone. Doug and Garry, I wonder why you guys don't record the license plates of these vehicles and file a complaint with the RNC or RCMP?

  • Joey
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    There is also an epidemic here in St. John's.

    When turning left onto two lanes of traffic, you are supposed to take the INSIDE lane, virtually no one here does it.

    At an intersection, when drivers are facing eachother one can turn and the other can turn left IF YOU BOTH GO INTO THE CORRECT LANE.

    I'm from Nova Scotia and when I moved here it was the first time I observed this behaviour.

  • I
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Joe from NL writes: When painting, WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!

    Excellent point. Spraying anything other than pure water (and at low pressure) is just too dumb for words. Especially when your name and mug graces the local newspaper.

  • P
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    The only way I know how to prevent getting rearended or rearending someone myself is to drive slower when there are cars ahead or behind me...I'm no speed demon anyway, and I try to be aware of keeping a couple of car lengths behind another car and keeping an eye on what's going on behind me - which could be a tailgater or impatient driver wanting to speed up - I just keep steady at around 50-60 kms. regardless. And winter driving..I abhore it! Not because of my driving..but because of those reckless drivers you speak of Doug..it's scary out there!!

  • Eric
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I agree 100% with Doug and Gary about the increased cell-phone use and excessive speeds by both sexes of drivers. I am retired 3 years and before that I arrived at my business about 7.30am and left at 6.30pm. Because of that I didn't see the idiots that I see now. It is pathetic how drivers in todays's environment get away with it. I don't know how many tickets have been issued for cell phone usage in the last 5 years that the law has been in effect. I still can't get my head around the idea that a vast amount of drivers feel that they have the right to drive at any speed that they wish with no regard for life or other's rights. I just drive now to my places of interest and shake my head and wonder why.
    Most normal drivers can tell when they are behind another driver if they are on the phone, texting, doing make-up, reading the paper or any other idiotic task because they drive in and out and back and forth the lane.
    Another thing! Next time you see someone of the phone or speeding, look around, there is also a police car in the area but he or she aren't stopping, why get out of the car and give a ticket. Forget it, it isn't worth it. They rather go to accidents rather than prevent them.
    Oh woe is me! Another day driving in St. John's

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    In my 6-7 minute drive to work each morning I am guaranteed to see at least one oversized SUV stuffed with teenagers including a 17 or 18 year old driver going about 80 km/hr, at least several so-called executive businessmen driving holding cell phones to their ears with one hand and a Tim Horton's cup in the other going about 70 km/hr, and women going the same speed while doing their makeup in the rear view mirror. I'm amazed there aren't fender-benders on every corner every morning. Where are the RNC while all of this is going on?

  • Carlson
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I guess Doug and Gary drive with their hands at 10 and 2 without listening to the radio or anything. You guys must be paying too much attention to what other drivers are doing if you can see them texting, or putting on makeup. On my way to work this morning while driving on the highway in the passing lane at a speed of 110 km/h, the middle aged man who was in the inside lane decided to pull out in front of me when I was but a few feet from him. I had to lock on my brakes to avoid slamming into him. I must add that he was not on a cell phone, not doing his makeup, and appeared to have both hands on the steering wheel.