“In the days to come, we’ll have more to say about how this pilot project impacts riders and drivers,” he added.

Read more

Safe Driver Recognition changes effective this October

SGI_logo_colour-header

Changes to SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition (SDR) program take effect Oct. 12, 2016.

The program was implemented in 2002 to reward safe drivers and encourage risky drivers to change their behaviour. SGI began reviewing the program in 2012, seeking feedback from customers, stakeholders and employees. Recommendations for both bigger discounts and tougher penalties were approved by government late last year.

Another significant change to the program is harsher penalties for speeding convictions. In 2014, 30 people were killed and 872 injured in 1,954 speed-related collisions in Saskatchewan.

“Speeding increases your risk of being in a collision,” said Andrew Cartmell, President and CEO of SGI. “We see this play out time and time again in Saskatchewan. Tougher consequences under the SDR program should help ensure speeders get the message to slow down.”

Drivers will now lose points for all speeding convictions (except photo speed enforcement convictions) and in some cases the number of points a driver loses for a speeding infraction is increasing.

Other details include:

  • The safety rating scale will grow by one point a year for the next five years, from +20 to +25. As the scale grows, drivers with the safest records will earn higher discounts on their vehicle insurance, reaching 25% when the scale reaches its maximum in 2020 (from the current 20%)
  • Financial penalties will double from $25 to $50 per point in the penalty zone
  • Drivers responsible for collisions will lose points based on the seriousness of the collision – 4 points for claim payouts under $700 and 6 points for claim payouts of $700 or more

“When you get behind the wheel of a car, the decisions you make can be literally life or death for you, your passengers and other people on the road. It’s a responsibility we all need to understand and take seriously. Our intention in strengthening the SDR program is to better recognize those of you who have done that, and to give everyone else more reason to think about the choices they’re making when they drive,” Cartmell said.

For more information about these changes, see the attached backgrounder (pdf, 68 kb) or visit the SDR program changes.

About SGI

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link underOnline Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.

• • •
Government, ICBC and police tackle distracted driving

Government, ICBC and police tackle distracted driving

With tougher penalties now in effect, ICBC, police and the B.C. government are teaming up to launch a month-long campaign to continue to combat distracted driving. Distracted driving is responsible for approximately one quarter of all fatal crashes in B.C.

Police across the province are still seeing drivers using their cellphones, particularly while waiting at an intersection or stuck in traffic. It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about distracted driving and a top excuse police hear. This is especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.

The fact is the law applies whenever you’re in control of your vehicle – even when stopped at a light or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Studies show that drivers who are talking on a cellphone lose about 50 per cent of what is going on around them, visually.

Police are ramping up their enforcement of distracted driving across B.C. Cell Watch volunteers will also be roadside, reminding drivers to leave their phones alone. And ICBC road safety coordinators will be attending community events inviting the public to try a driving simulator to see firsthand how using a cellphone impacts your ability to drive safely.

The campaign features television and radio advertising as well as digital advertising. You can view an infographic on this month’s distracted driving campaign at icbc.com.

Quotes:

Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

“Distracted driving remains a serious concern and we’re committed to making our roads safer for everyone,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Our new stricter penalties are among the toughest in Canada and police are doing their part to change behaviours by enforcing the law across the province.”

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

“Safety on our highways and in our communities remains our top priority,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We’re asking drivers to stay focused on the road and resist the temptation to use your phone for calls, texts, social media, maps or music. You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your phone while driving.”

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“B.C. drivers know it’s against the law, but far too many still make excuses for their behaviour, and put themselves and others at risk by using their phone while driving,” said Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “That’s why we’re cracking down on those who cannot police themselves. Even when you’re waiting at an intersection or stuck in traffic, the law is clear – you aren’t permitted to use your phone.”

Steve Crombie, ICBC’s vice-president responsible for road safety

“Insurance rates in B.C. are under incredible pressure from a number of external factors, primarily caused by an increasing number of crashes occurring on our roads – 300,000 crashes, or more than 800 every single day, in 2015 alone,” said Steve Crombie, ICBC’s vice-president responsible for road safety. “Many of these crashes are caused by high-risk driving behaviours, including distracted driving. It’s time we all commit to leaving our phones alone and avoiding other forms of distraction when we’re behind the wheel.”

Regional statistics*:

  • Every year, on average, 27 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in theLower Mainland.

  • Every year, on average, 10 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes onVancouver Island.

  • Every year, on average, 31 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in theSouthern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 15 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2010 to 2014. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

Media contact

Lindsay Olsen
604-982-4759

SGI and law enforcement turn attention to school zones in September

With classes back in session, school zone safety is the traffic safety spotlight for the month of September.

#SlowDown Saskatchewan

Police will be watching for traffic violations in and around school zones, including motorists speeding, driving distracted, failing to obey stop signs or yield signs, failing to yield for pedestrians, failing to obey crossing guards or failing to obey school bus cross arms and flashing lights.

“Children are among the most vulnerable road users and as a motorist it’s your duty to look out for them,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice-President of the Auto Fund. “It’s critical to slow down and give the road your full attention in school zones. Not only does the small size of a child make them difficult to see, they can also be unpredictable as they may not yet understand rules of the road.”

SGI Quick Facts School zone safety

During drop-off times school zones can become extremely congested with traffic and children, making it even more difficult to identify hazards. In 2014, there were 40 collisions in school zones in the province, resulting in 15 injuries.

When it comes to children and vehicles, there is little margin for error. SGI recommends motorists keep the following tips in mind when travelling in or near school zones and playgrounds:

  • Reduce speed to the posted limit and be prepared to stop.
  • Familiarize yourself with school zone locations and hours of operation. Unless you need to be in a school zone, plan a different route.
  • Avoid distractions and give the road your full attention.
  • Expect the unexpected and drive carefully, even if you have the right of way.
  • Use caution when approaching or manoeuvring around school buses.
  • Obey the direction of any signage, traffic control devices or crossing guards.

Throughout the 2016 school year, some school buses across the province will begin to use exterior overhead amber flashing light systems when preparing to stop, in addition to overhead red flashing lights that are used when a bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students. The amber lights provide an advanced warning to motorists, allowing them more time to slow down and safely react. Bylaws dictating the use of warning lights (and school bus traffic control devices, such as a stop arm) are dependant on the municipality. It’s important to familiarize yourself with bylaws in your area.

View more information about school zones or pedestrian safety.

About SGI

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link underOnline Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.

• • •
ICBC urges caution during last long weekend of the summer

ICBC urges caution during last long weekend of the summer

For many British Columbians, the Labour Day long weekend marks the last chance for a summer road trip. But it can also be a busy time on B.C. roads.

Over the Labour Day long weekend, five people are killed and 520 people are injured in 2,000 crashes across the province.*

That’s why it’s important for drivers to plan ahead and make smart decisions such as checking the condition of your vehicle, allowing plenty of time to reach your destination and programming your GPS-device before heading out on the road.

Here are ICBC’s tips for a safe long weekend road trip:

  • Pre-trip check: Check your engine oil, coolant levels and lights, and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated. Make sure any camping or outdoor equipment is securely tied down to your vehicle before you take off.

  • Plan your route: Check drivebc.ca to view weather and road conditions for major routes throughout B.C.

  • Eliminate distractions: Turn off your cellphone before you head out or put it in the trunk so you won’t be tempted to answer if it rings. Help keep your family and friends safe by not texting, calling or answering if you know someone is behind the wheel.

  • Keep your distance: Allow at least two seconds of following distance between vehicles in good road conditions, and at least three seconds on high-speed roads. Increase your distance when you’re following a large vehicle such as an RV (it can block your vision) or a motorcycle (it can stop quicker than a car).

  • Watch for RVs: You’ll likely spot many recreational vehicles on the highways this weekend. If you’re driving in mountainous areas, you may find that many RVs are driving below the speed limit because they may be underpowered and overloaded. Be patient with these drivers as they are likely going uphill as fast as they can. If you’re driving your RV, be courteous and pull over to let others by if you’re holding up traffic. This is much safer than a driver making an unsafe pass out of frustration.

Keep in mind that kids head back to school on Tuesday. So drivers need to pay extra attention around crosswalks and school and playground zones. Police will be closely monitoring speeds in school zones, ensuring that drivers stick to the 30 km/h limit. You should also allow extra time for increased traffic as people return to work or school from summer holidays.

Regional statistics*:

  • Last year, 390 people were injured in 1,300 crashes in the Lower Mainland over the Labour Day long weekend.

  • Last year, 51 people were injured in 270 crashes on Vancouver Island over the Labour Day long weekend.

  • Last year, 63 people were injured in 310 crashes in the Southern Interior over the Labour Day long weekend.

  • Last year, 16 people were injured in 120 crashes in North Central B.C. over the Labour Day long weekend.

Labour Day crashes are calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to the holiday to midnight Monday.

*Fatality data is police data based on five year average (2010 to 2014). Crash and injury data is ICBC data from 2015.

Media contact

Sam Corea
604-982-2480

More crashes, more injuries, leads ICBC to seek 4.9 per cent rate hike

VANCOUVER _ The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia will seek a 4.9-per-cent hike to its basic auto insurance rates, but a company official warns the increase could have been much higher.

The corporation has submitted its application to the B.C. Utilities Commission, with interim approval expected in early September, covering rates effective Nov. 1.

ICBC estimates the increase will add about $3.50 per month to the cost of basic insurance. A 2.8-per-cent increase is also proposed for optional insurance rates, such as comprehensive coverage that applies to everything from theft and vandalism to vehicle damage caused by an earthquake or a falling tree.

The corporation estimates customers who buy optional, extended third-party liability, plus collision or comprehensive, should expect to pay an additional $5 per month, if the utilities commission approves the application.

Mark Blucher, the corporation’s president and CEO, said a number of factors are behind the application for a rate hike.

“It’s the rapid increase in the number of crashes, it’s more vehicle damage and injury claims being reported and that’s being compounded by higher vehicle repair and injury claims costs,” said Blucher.

Vehicle damage claims were also up 11 per cent while the number of crashes across British Columbia has climbed by 15 per cent since 2013, to 300,000 last year.

“In B.C., the number of vehicles on our roads in 2015 went through three million for the first time ever to 3.1 million vehicles, and that was up 10 per cent from 2011,” said Blucher, offering one reason for what he said is a continent-wide spike in collisions.

Drivers are spending more time behind the wheel and urban areas are busier than ever, while distracted driving adds to the problem, he said.

ICBC data showed injury claims are also on the rise, along with the number of victims injured per crash. It paid $2.4 billion in injury claims in 2015.

“In previous years we have had one significant relief against this rise in claims cost, and that has been our very strong investment income, but because of increasingly challenging investment markets and historically low interest rates, we can’t rely on that to the same extent we did in the past,” Blucher said.

In 2015, Blucher said ICBC’s investment income was $920 million at the end of the year, but midway through 2016 that amount stood at $44 million.

To make up for the shortfalls, Blucher said ICBC had launched several initiatives, including a government-approved transfer of $472 million from its optional insurance business to its basic business, a reduction in the number of top executives and their salaries, and an overhaul and modernization of its business practices.

The 4.9-per-cent increase is lower than the 5.5 per cent approved in 2015, but Blucher said without taking those internal measures ICBC would have needed a 15.5-per-cent increase to cover 2016 costs.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the government has worked with the insurance corporation to “remain as affordable as possible.”

“The reality is that ICBC continues to face mounting costs as a result of the frequency, complexity, and severity of bodily injury claims, in addition to higher vehicle repair costs,” he added.

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