The ICBC "Dumpster Fire"

ICBC LogoICBC premiums are rising! The corporation is losing billions, we have to get costs under control! Let's put out the ICBC dumpster fire by reducing what we pay out in claims, but assure crash victims that they will be properly taken care of.

That's about all you can get into a 30 second sound bite but if there are a few more available, add the fact that the court actions and legal fees are compounding the problem.

These thoughts seem to have replaced the complaints that our provincial government put ICBC in a poor financial position by raiding reserve funds to balance the provincial budget.

All of this seems to be a bit after the fact to me. Shouldn't we be looking at the root of these costs? The average of 960 crashes per day in 2017 means that about one in ten B.C. drivers played a part in this issue. If we could stop having collisions, reduced costs would certainly follow.

This is simple to say, but difficult to execute.

I'm a better than average driver, so the problem does not lie with me, it's the other driver you need to deal with. Make them take a road test every five years to show that they still know how to drive properly.

Ask a driving examiner and you may hear that they think that most drivers would pass that road test. Drivers would simply drive responsibly for the test and then go back to their preferred behaviours afterward.

As a traffic cop, I listened to many violators rationalize their choice to disobey the rules. For many different reasons their personal circumstances took precedence over the framework that we've established to try and keep ourselves safe.

Automated enforcement is OK for red light runners, but not for monitoring speed. Don't even think about using telematics to look over my shoulder while I drive to set my insurance rates! "Big brother" has no place in my vehicle and only limited welcome outside it.

Vision Zero changes to infrastructure designed to reduce the frequency of or minimize the effects of crashes that do occur are slowly being made as budget and planning permit. Promoting the belief that our highways are not just for personal motor vehicles and that more lanes don't make for safer and efficient travel will be difficult.

We seem to view a certain number of casualties from crashes as "normal." It isn't.

Let's get rid of "me first" attitudes and decide that no collision is an acceptable risk for using the highway. It's something that we can do now (at no cost!) and it will surely affect our insurance rates.



We hear on the news every day about the high cost of insurance, and the opinion that ICBC will not pay what we believe is our due.

Following this is an add, by a major law firm. They tell you do not go to ICBC come to them, they will make ICBC pay. In the law firms add, are the experts in the firm, that will fight for you.

I counted roughly thirty lawyers, in the add. I wondered, if they fight for you, and Win a large sum‎, after these thirty lawyers take there cut. What is left for you?.

My grandson went through UBC, for four years, to be a lawyer. He then looked at the opportunities, and is now becoming a Chef.

Tongue in cheek! Following road tests, to point out our faults. Perhaps if we eliminated a few Hungary lawyers, ‎ costs would come down.

You're waxing loquacious today!

Here's an interesting aspect to ICBC premiums; obtaining maximum liability coverage. You would think they would want to encourage this; yet this last week when my wife re-insured her 10 year old Accord, and as always selected the maximum $5m available, she realized that despite her Road Star status, the premium had increased to over $800 per year - several hundred dollars more than she was paying only a couple of years ago.

As for myself, I carry $10m liability, but it costs $700 per year. Oddly, that's a lower premium for my bus than her car even though I have double the coverage. However, the local Amica Senior's Residence are able to get $10m liability for less than $200 premium on their bus.

It just don't make sense, and for the average motorist it's a disincentive to being adequately covered.


So why do we have so many bad drivers?

The last time I renewed my license I found it appalling to look around and observe all the various languages that were ‘available’ to those applying.  Last I checked, Canada had only two official languages and only those two are used in road signage.  What’s wrong with this picture?  It’s not about discrimination if it’s a ‘privilege’  - not a ‘right.’  And given the recent news coverage of the cheating in the service centres, how many licenses are flippantly issued under this scenario?   

ICBC has to be more strict on the applications and follow up on the repeat offenders.  I’ve driven since 1975 and had one speeding ticket and one left-turn violation, never caused an accident or been involved in one.  

Oh for pity's sake ...

For your information, Canada is a country made up of both indigenous peoples (for whom neither English or French would be their native tongue) and immigrants from around the world. This is who we are.

And believe it or not, but people around the world manage to drive even if they can't speak English or French. It's true!

Perhaps next time you drive, you might pay more attention to the road signs around you. You might notice, for instance, that for many years words on road signs have been replaced by symbols, for easy recognition. Open your eyes, and you might notice that even the One Way street signs don't say One Way on them any more! 

And given the recent news coverage of the cheating in the service centres, how many licenses are flippantly issued under this scenario?

Flippantly, eh?

Here is the situation in BC, for your information. At one time, license applicants were allowed to use an Interpreter to do their Knowledge tests. But ICBC realized that although, on average, there will be an 80% Pass / 20% Fail rate on these tests, the Pass rate for those using an Interpreter was essentially 100%. Figure it out - they did.

And that's why these days they have Knowledge Tests available in a multitude of languages! It's to eliminate the need for an Interpreter. It's to ensure that the Applicant is being tested on their knowledge of driving, rather than their knowledge of English - and that if they pass, they did it on their own.

Your ignorance is exceeded only by your prejudice.

Insightful as usual, maybe a little abrasive ;)

CompetentDriving added something to my knowledge today as per usual, thank you!
Interesting to see that the interpreter assisted exams are so much more likelier to pass. But in their defense, what if all English based tests were done with an "Interpreter" that would aid the test taker's English comprehension. We know that English comprehension is down among the English speaking students across Canada and the USA compared to the years prior. And the knowledge test presents several questions that have some very similar answers, only one of which is correct, and grammar may be the only difference.

To Leisa, I have say that just like playing badminton or baking a cake does not require a specific language to convey the instructions driving skill is not based on a particular language. An argument against providing these tests in multiple languages can be made from the social services perspective - it costs more and we the taxpayers would like to limit the costs of public services. Or from the immigration perspective - we the citizens & immigrants who accepted that Canada has 2 official languages and taken the plunge to learn at least one of these languages in order to assimilate are protesting the fact that the Gov enables new immigrants to get access to public services in non-official languages thereby limiting their need to assimilate. But in no way is the driving skill dependent on any particular language.

Personally, as an immigrant myself, who has learned the language and the traditions and laws of the Canadian system, who adopted the duties and responsibilities of a Canadian citizen, I am a little disappointed that more than half of the people in my immediate locality are virtually non English speaking. And I am extremely aghast that the Gov is enabling all sorts of non-assimilation behaviors. I came to Canada last millennium before the "diversity is our strength" took over the immigration policy. Immigrants were expected to learn the language and get a job. I've never received any social assistance as an immigrant and have never been on welfare, and I paid taxes to the Gov every year since I got a job at 18 years old. But I believe that very few more-recent immigrants come with the same convictions to truly become Canadian and contribute - they are just doing and arguing for things that basically allow them not to integrate, not pay any taxes, receive maximum benefits and give nothing in return.

Competent Driver

No needy to be nasty.   Calling people ignorant and prejudice simply depicts a reflection of yourself.  

You took my question/comment too personally.  And your rhetoric had no argument to reference why we have so many bad drivers.  

Again, driving is a privilege, some have taken to interpret it as a “right.”  We need to be more strict on issuing licenses and the process and get those repeat offenders off the road.

A Few Thoughts

I am all for retesting, and that goes for truck drivers also. It is one of the bullet points that a group of us drivers are trying to get the powers that be, to review, before carving the MELT rules into stone.

There are a lot of great drivers out there, but they are not the norm. I think that telematics would certainly play a role in crash reduction. Right now people drive any way they want because there is no enforcement and no repercussions.

My dad taught me to drive as if he, a police officer,  or driving instructor, was sitting in the passenger seat. It makes for a completely different driving experience, where you are constantly checking yourself, and doing your best.

The “me first” attitude has no place in the driving scenario, but I can’t see that changing any time soon. So the better than average drivers are making allowances for these idiots, and I have seen some pretty awesome manoeuvres that have prevented accidents, only to watch the person who caused it to go merrily on their way oblivious to the trail of destruction behind them.

Not Rocket Science

You know this isn’t rocket science, but you’d think it was one of the great mysteries of the ages the way politicians evade the obvious. They just don’t want to face the consequences of telling the voters they suck as drivers, they act irresponsibly and don’t care about anyone else. Or am I just being cynical?

You would think the Minister of Health would raise hell in cabinet demanding action, but I guess that’s just not done. The government budget and authority silos reign supreme. Now I am being cynical, but after rubbing shoulders with politicians and their party hacks for 35 years I think I have a good handle on how things really work.

Let's have a General Prudential Rule in the MVA

In the marine world, the COLREGs (collision regulations) have a General Prudential Rule that requires all vessel operators to follow all the rules, but also to take whatever action is necessary to avoid a collision, even if it means breaking another one of the rules.

If BC's Motor Vehicle Act included a General Prudential Rule, driving defensively would become mandatory, and drivers would be required to do whatever is feasible to avoid a collision. I think a paradigm shift like this would go a long way to reducing the number and severity of collisions, thus reducing claims and lowering insurance rates.

I've written a more comprehensive blog on this subject here:

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists."

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