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Auto News: Florida licence fight not over yet

  • 4x4 off-road safari. Egypt. Sinai desert

Over the past week, there has been much concern from travellers about the possibility of Canadian drivers needing an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) to drive in Florida.

Within hours of the story breaking in the Toronto Star, Florida police reported they would not be enforcing the law. Everyone on both sides of the border understands how important Canadian tourist dollars are to the Sunshine State.

However, even without police enforcement, drivers involved in an accident could face insurance problems if they don’t have an IDP in a state that requires one.

More: Importing an old car from U.S. not as easy as it sounds

The Canadian Automobile Association is the sole supplier of IDPs in Canada. Teresa Di Felice, CAA’s community relations director, says snowbirds should check with their insurance companies before assuming they don’t need one.

Although the Insurance Bureau of Canada has urged its member companies not to penalize drivers without an IDP, they don’t have the authority to enforce this. “Individual companies make that call,” said Di Felice. “People should call their insurance company.”

Another potential concern is that Florida car-rental companies may still require an IDP, so customers should call ahead to make sure.

Also, for anyone driving to Florida, Georgia does require an IDP.

Since Florida’s concern seems to centre on language issues, only Quebec licence holders may have issues with state police.

But the insurance issues apply to all Canadian drivers and could prove to be very expensive if there’s an accident.

An IDP costs $25, plus the cost of two passport photos. Applicants can supply their own passport photos or have them taken at a CAA office. In person, the process takes 15 to 20 minutes, or the application can be downloaded at

If you are planning a visit to Florida, Georgia or anywhere outside the country for that matter, it makes sense to get an IDP.

Dotting their brands

Auto manufacturers are looking to create their own top-level Internet domains.

A top-level domain is the last set of letters of a URL (for example, with, the .ca is the top-level domain.)

There is a recent trend for big companies to obtain their own top-level domains, and car companies are no exception.

The Detroit News reports that General Motors applied for .buick, .chevy, .chevrolet, .gmc and .cadillac, but has since withdrawn the latter three.

Likewise, Ford has applied for .ford and .lincoln, while Chrysler has requested .chrysler, .jeep, .mopar, .ram and .srt.

The Detroit Three are not the only ones who want in. Some of the other applications include:

Toyota: .toyota and .lexus

Honda: .honda

BMW: .bmw and .mini

Fiat: .fiat, .maserati and .ferrari

The newspaper reports that three companies have applied for the generic domain, .cars.

Kicking the tires

Most drivers don’t even think about tires until the time comes to spend money replacing them.

At that point, most think little about what happens to their old tires.

Once upon a time, they were sent to the local dump, or maybe to someone’s cottage to became dock bumpers.

But the rubber compounds are designed to withstand the elements, which means they don’t decay when dumped in a pile and can become deadly fuel in a fire.

When used properly, however, tires can be recycled into all sorts of products.

In the fall of 2009, Ontario launched its Tire Stewardship program, designed to coordinate recycling efforts between the garages that replace tires, the companies that collect scrap tires, and the recycling facilities.

Since then, the program has overseen the recycling of 55 million used tires — enough to fill up the Rogers Centre twice.

Under the program, Ontarians can drop off up to four tires for free at any of 6,900 facilities in the province, rather than dumping them on a country roadside.

Learn more at

Free charging advice

One of the challenges of owning an electric vehicle is how to effectively recharge it.

Charging times using standard 110-volt household outlets can take 16 hours or more for some vehicles. But those times can be cut in half with a 220-volt charging station.

The non-profit organization Plug’n Drive has now partnered with the Electric Safety Authority to create, a website that helps potential EV buyers decide which charging station is best for their situation, and to connect them with local suppliers and installers.

A Leafy milestone

According to Nissan, the Leaf has now sold 50,000 units, making it the highest-selling electric vehicle of all time.

Here in Canada, Nissan has sold 450 of the five-passenger cars since its launch in late 2011.

Nissan has also been trying to address concerns about the durability of electric vehicles.

As proof, it says one Leaf owner in Japan has logged 175,000 kilometres on a vehicle that is just two years old.

Auto News: Florida licence fight not over yet

Florida police might not be enforcing new international licence requirements, but snowbirds shouldn’t breathe too easy.

Auto news, column, wheels, florida, driver’s licence

  • Auto News: Florida licence fight not over yet
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