Re-imagining classic carols for December’s spotlight on impaired driving

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B.C.’s insurance corporation cuts ad budget in favour of traffic enforcement

VICTORIA _ The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is slashing its advertising budget in half and redirecting the funds toward police traffic enforcement.

Attorney General David Eby says high risk drivers are ignoring the corporation’s road safety messages.

He says channelling advertising funds directly to enforcement will offer the chance to deliver the message directly to risky drivers.

Starting in the next fiscal year, the insurance corporation will add $2.4 million to enhanced traffic enforcement.

The Ministry of the Attorney General says that will boost the public insurer’s investment in direct safety traffic programs to $24.8 million.

Corporation president Nicolas Jimenez says ICBC’s cost pressures can be traced directly to the 350,000 crashes, about 960 a day, that were recorded across British Columbia last year.

“With crashes at an all-time high in our province, we’re committed to doing what we can to reduce claims costs and relieve the pressure on insurance rates,” Jimenez says in a news release.

The corporation says the $2.4 million remaining in its advertising budget will be spent educating drivers about upcoming changes to the provincial auto insurance system.

#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?

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend

The annual holiday CounterAttack campaign is kicking off this weekend with roadchecks set up across the province.

The B.C. government, police and ICBC are urging drivers to plan ahead and make smart decisions to get home safely this holiday season.

Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal car crashes, with an average of 68 lives lost every year in B.C. Police across the province will be setting up roadchecks to keep impaired drivers off our roads throughout December.

For more than 40 years, ICBC has supported impaired driving education campaigns and funded CounterAttack enhanced police enforcement. ICBC also provides free special event permit kits for businesses, sports facilities and community groups to promote the get home safe message.

ICBC is a sponsor of Operation Red Nose, a volunteer service in 19 B.C. communities that provides safe rides to drivers who feel unfit to drive, no matter the reason. This service is available November 30 until December 31 on Friday and Saturday nights, including New Year’s Eve.

Next fiscal year, ICBC will be directing additional funding to police traffic enforcement throughout the province without increasing the operating budget.  The funding will come from ICBC’s annual advertising budget. This shift in focus will help get more police officers on the road to crack down on risky driving behaviors and help prevent crashes.

Get more stats and facts from ICBC’s infographic and learn more about the CounterAttack campaign on icbc.com.

Quotes:

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

“Generations of B.C. drivers and passengers have grown up with CounterAttack’s deterrent messages and stepped-up seasonal enforcement. With cannabis now legal in Canada, we’re determined to preserve CounterAttack’s life-saving benefits in detecting alcohol- and drug-affected drivers and removing them from B.C.’s roads.”

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

“Police officers across the province will be working hard to keep impaired drivers off our roads this December. Driving while impaired by alcohol or any drug, legal or otherwise, has been against the law for many years, and that hasn’t changed. Do your part this holiday season and look out for family and friends – take a stand and don’t let them get behind the wheel impaired.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s vice-president responsible for road safety

“We want everyone to enjoy the holidays with family and friends so make sure you plan ahead for a safe ride home. Whether you’re attending a holiday get-together or meeting friends to watch a game, if your festivities involve alcohol, please leave your car at home or find an alternate way to get home safe – use a designated driver, call a taxi, take transit or use Operation Red Nose.”

Statistics:*

  • On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Lower Mainland every year.

  • On average, 10 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on Vancouver Island every year.

  • On average, 23 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Southern Interior every year.

  • On average, 19 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in North Central B.C. every year.

Editor’s notes:

Lower Mainland media are invited to attend an evening CounterAttack roadcheck on Saturday, December 1 in Vancouver. Please contact Joanne Bergman, 604-314-3138, for location.

Several police detachments throughout B.C. will also invite media to attend CounterAttack roadchecks in their communities on December 1.

B-roll footage of a CounterAttack roadcheck is available for download.

Notes about the data:

*Fatal victim counts from police data based on five-year average from 2013 to 2017. Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.

That’s a bad look! 793 distracted driving offences sets another Traffic Safety Spotlight record

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“N” Drivers Forever!

Does a novice driver have to take the test to become a fully licensed class 5 driver? While there is a limited time that a novice must remain in the Graduated Licensing Program there is currently no limit on the other end of the scale. “N” drivers forever!

Of course, remaining a novice driver comes at a cost. You must abide by all of the restrictions listed on the back of your licence.

Being a novice means displaying an N sign prominently on the rear of any vehicle that you drive. This includes vehicles that you drive for work purposes, even if they are owned by the company you work for.

Cell phones, hands free or not, are forbidden for you to use. Ditto the GPS whether it is on your cell phone or part of the vehicle dashboard.

The rules regarding impairing substances have changed recently. In addition to having a zero blood alcohol level when driving, a novice must not have cocaine or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their body either. The Draeger Drugtest 5000 is approved for roadside screening to determine whether the driver is under the influence of marihuana or cocaine while driving or not.

There are passenger restrictions too. Novices may only carry one passenger. This restriction does not apply if the passengers are family members or the novice is accompanied by a properly licensed supervisor who is at least 25 years old and is not a learner or novice driver.

Novice drivers are also subject to stricter sanctions in RoadSafetyBC’s Driver Improvement Program. The chances of being prohibited from driving for a period of time if you receive a traffic ticket occur much sooner than they would for a full privilege driver.

Novices are allowed to drive outside of the province of BC as long as they follow the restrictions on their licence just as they would have to here in BC. Penalties for failing to do so are set by the province or state that the novice is driving in.

So, instead of worrying about the driver who has chosen not to test for their full privilege licence and remain a novice, perhaps we should admire them. They’ve decided to subject themselves to tighter sanctions than the rest of us when they drive. That is, until they face a driving prohibition after receiving a traffic ticket. Now there is incentive to test for full privilege licence and escape the sanctions of the Driver Improvement Program.

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

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