We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

How best to fix bad driver behaviour?

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, October 13th 2017

Police target distracted drivers during an enforcement campaign on Douglas Street. A reader suggests tougher penalties are need to dissuade drivers who insist on using smartphones behind the wheel.



Readers had several comments and suggestions in response to last week’s column.
Here are some of them.
Vicky said the penalties for distracted driving should be at least the same as those for drunk driving, given that the death and injury numbers for distracted driving, usually involving a cellphone, exceed those for impaired driving.

The risk to the public is significant.
This is clearly a case of the legal system needing a much bigger stick than is now available.
The latest increase in penalties has had little effect.

Joan is fed up with subsidizing poor drivers.
Safe, claim-free drivers are paying more each year.
They pay far too much to make up for those who drive like “yahoos.”

Since many crashes happen at intersections, she is in favour of expanding photo radar to all the top crash sites within municipalities.
Doug’s suggestions are the most radical.
He believes a driver with multiple traffic tickets should pay an additional fine, but also begin a gradual de-licensing program.

Drivers with multiple infractions would have to undergo a road test.
If unsuccessful, the candidate would return to the N phase, with all its restrictions.

Further infractions would result in moving all the way back to the L stage, where a driver must be accompanied by a fully licenced class 5 co-pilot.
Fred wanted to know why it costs so much more to fix vehicles these days than in the not-too-distant past.
He questions the validity of some of the quotes from autobody shops acting as valet service centres or ICBC-approved agents.

Most people are unaware of the due diligence practised by ICBC, which does in-house parallel repairs as a means of doublechecking for odd estimates.
Bert reminded me that 30 per cent of payouts from ICBC are to liability claimants, motorists who sue ICBC because of personal injury.

He maintains there must be a limitedliability factor, which would stall the rising costs of claims.

Richard’s suggestion mirrors several other provincial and state solutions for modifying the behaviour of unsafe drivers. Traffic school!
There are many people who are not deterred by a financial penalty.
If these offenders had to attend a mandatory attitude-adjustment session, it might have a positive effect on their bad driving behaviour.

Many jurisdictions in North America demand attendance at such a course before returning driving privileges to someone who has accumulated a series of penalty points.
Rewarding good drivers was a common theme of many respondents.
They called for an instant reward for new drivers who take a driver-education course.

For example, in Ontario, new drivers who take a driver-education course have the wait time reduced to get their licences, and receive a $500 cheque if they remain crashand point-free over time. In B.C., the only incentive is that the N phase is reduced by six months, from two years to 18 months.
Where would the funds for an incentive come from? More than one respondent said it should come directly from chronic offenders, namely bad drivers.

For many years, the provincial government has taken a “dividend” from the coffers of ICBC, one it says is surplus to the insurance corporation’s needs.
Because of this practice, ICBC has no reserve account with which to soften the blow of increased costs to its customers.
This dividend has gone directly into the province’s general revenue.

Over the last two decades, it has amounted to billions of dollars.
It is long past time that provincial governments of all political stripes stopped raiding ICBC funds and diverting the money to pet projects, other than insurancerelated activities.
Government should be the solution, not the problem.






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