#DriveSmartBC – Building Trust, Driving Confidence

ICBC’s current corporate slogan is “Building Trust, Driving Confidence.” Pair that with this week’s announcement of a $582 million loss for the first six months of the corporation’s fiscal year and one begins to wonder about the confidence part. That loss is being blamed on the rising number and cost of claims.

Laying the blame there is probably the easiest thing to do and the least likely to require a lot of explanation.

ICBC rates are set by the BC Utilities Commission, which is ultimately controlled by the provincial government. That’s the same government that took dividends out of ICBC coffers that could have been invested by the corporation and the profits used to pay insurance claims.

Our provincial government also controls many other facets of this issue. Driver licensing, policing, traffic laws, highway design and maintenance to name a few.

So, who’s in the driver’s seat and where are they taking us? Are we happy with the direction of travel?

There are three ways to reduce this deficit, take in more money, reduce costs and quit running into each other or other things.

No one wants to pay more for their vehicle insurance. This is a relatively immediate consequence and one that we feel acutely. It’s easy to complain about as it’s visible to us all regularly.

Let’s make the high risk driver pay a high risk premium. Ditto for those who actually cause a crash. They should pay more too. Good drivers should pay the smallest premium.

Recently, reducing costs has come in the form of paying less for claims. This is a little more palatable because we’re all better than average drivers and perhaps this isn’t seen as something that will directly affect us. Someone else will pay the price regardless of whether they are the culprit or the victim.

Finally we come to a very complicated problem, how to reduce or eliminate collisions. Vision Zero. The most certain way to reduce insurance rates.

People make mistakes. Despite our best intentions bad things can happen and this is why we buy insurance.

The reduction of these mistakes and the minimization of the consequences of those that do happen will be a long process. Safe highways, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe users all combine to produce the safe systems of Vision Zero.

I can make a difference immediately if I try. I realize that driving is a team effort, not an individual one. I won’t be selfish and I’ll share the road. I will even try to put others first if there is a need to.

Will you?

ILScorp Offices Are Closed for Remembrance Day

ILScorp Offices Are Closed for Remembrance Day

The ILScorp offices will be closed Monday, Nov. 12. Take the time this Remembrance Day to remember and honour those who have, and who continue to, make sacrifices for our country.

We’ll be back Tuesday morning, ready to take your calls, answer your questions and register you for online insurance programs. You can reach us from 8 a.m. – 5  p.m. Pacific Time. You can also register for our insurance training programs online, anytime, at ILScorp.com

And for subscribers to the ILSTV insurance industry newsletter, your daily dose of Canadian insurance news returns to your inbox on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

This November 11, please take a moment to remember all those who have fallen.

#LestWeForget

 

#DriveSmartBC: Resistance to Roundabouts

Change is good, that is unless the town wants to upgrade a busy T intersection with a roundabout rather than installing traffic lights. This is the situation in Qualicum Beach where the town has announced that it intends to rebuild the intersection of highway 19A (Island Highway West) and highway 4 (Memorial Avenue) using a roundabout. This is something that the Qualicum Beach Residents Association (QBRA) opposes.

The collision picture here is a quiet one, relatively speaking. ICBC says that between 2011 and 2015 there were 19 crashes at the intersection and only 3 of them included injuries. There is mention by both the town and the QBRA of a pedestrian fatality close by in the recent past but there is no indication of how close or if the fatality was related to the intersection itself.

The QBRA wants traffic lights installed at this intersection instead of a roundabout and wrote to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to register opposition to this portion of the project.

The number of signatures on the petition amounted to about 10% of the town’s population, but there was no indication of whether the petition was limited to residents of the town or not.

Will the desires of the QBRA prevail?

The current design guide used by the province indicates on page 139 that:

Roundabouts shall be considered as the first option for intersection designs where 4-way stop control or traffic signals are supported by traffic analysis. If an intersection treatment other than a roundabout is recommended, the project documentation should include a reason why a roundabout solution was not selected for that location. This roundabouts “first” policy supports the province’s Climate Action Program of 2007.

Why are roundabouts considered to be the best option? They have a high potential for safety:

  • Lower speeds – Situation changes slowly
  • Very forgiving environment
  • More time to make the right response
  • Judging gaps is easy and mistakes are not lethal
  • NO demand to accurately judge closing speeds of fast traffic
  • Low energy crashes: low closing speeds, low angle, low impact
  • No wide visual scans needed • Reduced need to look over one’s shoulder
  • Uncomplicated situations; simple decision- making

The most commonly raised concerns involve pedestrians and cyclists.

Of the two, the pedestrian receives more benefits. They now only have to cross one lane at a time with a refuge in the splitter island half way across. Marked crosswalks are set away from the circle. This means that pedestrians are not crossing directly in front of drivers busy looking for a gap in traffic.

Cyclists trade a slightly increased collision rate for conditions that make those collisions much less likely to result in significant injury or death.

To summarize, roundabouts have been shown to reduce total crashes by 39%. serious crashes by 76% and fatal or incapacitating injuries by 89% when compared to intersections with stop signs or traffic lights.

Does this sound like something we should oppose?

As an aside, the town’s web site mentions the yellow flashing pedestrian signals currently installed in the intersection.

The claim is made that the RCMP does not consider this to be a traffic control device.

“traffic control device” means a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device, not inconsistent with this Part, placed or erected by authority of the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act, the council of a municipality or the governing body of a treaty first nation or a person authorized by any of them to exercise that authority;

“traffic control signal” means a traffic control device, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is directed to stop and to proceed.

Flashing lights

131 (3) When rapid intermittent flashes of yellow light are exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle facing the flashes of yellow light may cause it to enter the intersection and proceed only with caution, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk,

This is not correct and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in this situation.

Share your comments by e-mail.

Distracted Driving Statistics – What to Believe?

I received an interesting fact sheet from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) this week. It looks at distracted driving related fatal collisions in Canada from 2000 to 2015. In some Canadian provinces this type of fatality has surpassed the total caused by alcohol impaired driving. However, that’s not the part of the document that made me pause.

Distracted driving to many means the manual use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. In reality, distractions include being engaged with entertainment or communication devices, engaging with passengers in the vehicle, or eating, smoking or personal grooming while driving, among other examples. Doing anything that takes the driver’s attention from the driving task could be considered as distracting.

This caveat in the preface to the report was what really captured my attention:

It should also be noted that in some collision report forms, investigating officers may code the driver condition as ‘distracted, inattentive,’ meaning there was a general lack of attention exhibited by the driver but there was no specific source of distraction identified.

To me, distracted and inattentive are two different things. Lumping them both together does not paint a true picture of the problem.

Collision data gathering can be a complicated task. In order to be reliable, it must be done promptly, carefully and thoroughly by investigators who gather as much data as possible, considered for accuracy and then reported in a consistent manner.

That was on the minds of the people who produced the TIRF report:

Fatality data from British Columbia from 2011 to 2015 were not available at the time that this fact sheet was prepared. As a result, Canadian data presented have been re-calculated to exclude this jurisdiction and make equitable comparisons.

This politely worded statement could mean many things. TIRF did not give adequate time between the request for data and the writing of the report. It takes more than 3 years for B.C. bean counters to determine a result. B.C. refused to share the data with TIRF. Worst of all, maybe B.C. really has no idea what that data is.

Our government chose to discontinue the requirement to report a collision to the police in July of 2008. Currently, ICBC claims personnel are the only ones in a position to gather the majority of collision data.

If we can’t share data with TIRF, can we be sure that what we are being told about the impact of distracted driving is true?

No doubt it is taking place as the police issued about 43,000 tickets for using electronic devices while driving last year and we know that the consequences of doing so can be terrible, but how many of the 960 collisions that happen each day in B.C. can be blamed on driver distraction?

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

#DriveSmartBC: A Different Approach to School Zone Safety

Seven years ago I wrote about a safe trip to school, commenting on my experience that a significant part of the safety problem was caused by teachers and parents themselves. Their driving behaviour as they showed up to work or dropped off their children sometimes left a lot to be desired. Did they not realize that they were creating their own problem?

At that time, the only solution that I had to offer was the walking school bus. This is where parents take turns walking the neighbourhood group of children to school. Everyone benefits from the exercise, the children are safer and traffic congestion at the school is reduced.

We know that there’s a problem, but how do we deal with it? The City of Toronto is trying an Active and Safe Routes to School pilot project as a part of their Vision Zero Road Safety Plan. This will see areas around schools being designated as Community Safety Zones.

These zones will see painted crosswalks, active speed reader signs. increased enforcement and higher penalties.

Of the four, the only one that I know for sure results in a measurable effect is the speed reader sign. It’s always there and working.

Do the police have the resources to maintain an enforcement level necessary to result in a lasting level of compliance? Would we accept automated enforcement in school zones? The current political climate in B.C. seems to indicate that it is possible, but as yet nothing has been implemented.

Vienna Austria, Bolzano Italy and Haddington Scotland have taken a different approach. They have decided to exclude motor vehicle traffic around primary schools. Vienna’s closure is at the start of the school day, with Bolzano and Haddington at the beginning, lunch hour and end of the day.

These are pilot projects for Vienna and Haddington, but Bolzano has had this program in place for 21 years. Bolzano found that traffic jams are reduced and safety has increased, reducing the collision rate by half, resulting in about 45% of students walking to school.

Traffic calming measures lie somewhere in between. Here are some examples from the Netherlands. The use of signs, coloured pavement, marked crosswalks and chicanes are markedly different from what is found here in B.C.

ICBC says that every year, 380 children are injured in crashes while walking or cycling and six are killed throughout the province. In school and playground zones, 86 children are injured. Read their full press release.

September is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. #EyesForwardBC #DriveSmartBC

Read more

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