Electronic Monitoring

ball and chainOur current system of trying to change driver behaviour largely consists of traffic tickets, vehicle impoundment and driver's licence suspensions. They all rely on traffic policing to find and deal with those who don't follow the rules. How efficient is that?

When I worked on South Okanagan Highway Patrol, we were responsible for Highway 3 from the Manning Park works yard to the Rock Creek Canyon Bridge, Highway 5A from Princeton to the Okanagan Connector, Highway 3A from Keremeos to Kaleden and Highway 97 from the border at Osoyoos to Peachland. A typical dayshift consisted of 3 constables when we were all working.

What were a misbehaving driver's chances of being caught? Not that great.

ICBC has run one trial with driver telematics and are in the process of running a second. The first consisted of volunteers from their Customer Advisory Panel and the current one will be conducted with volunteers who are in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP).

One result of the first trial was announced by ICBC's CEO:

"From our first telematics pilot earlier this year, ICBC has developed a telematics strategy to identify how the technology can be used to improve road safety and drive behavioural change among higher-risk drivers in B.C.," said Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC's president and CEO. "We heard from those pilot participants that most believed the use of telematics would make the roads safer for everyone. This is our next step in a thoughtful examination of telematics technology and how it might help to keep these drivers safer."

Currently, there is one form of electronic monitoring in effect for drivers who have shown that they pose a significant risk to themselves and other road users. Drivers who have received alcohol-related driving prohibitions require an ignition interlock to prove that they are sober enough to drive.

RoadSafetyBC says that the interlock program evaluations have consistently found up to a 90% reduction in repeat drinking and driving while the device is installed.

One of the more common issues on our highways is drivers who drive at excessive speeds, that is more than 40 km/h above the posted speed limit. If they are found and dealt with by the police, a heavy fine and a vehicle impound is imposed. A GLP driver will also be subject to a driving prohibition.

Speed limit adherence is a relatively simple function for electronic monitoring. GPS provides both location and speed and the speed can be confirmed by the vehicle's own data network. There are apps available right now that will allow you to monitor your ability to drive at or below the posted speed limit.

Perhaps the requirement for a year of speed monitoring following an excessive speeding incident would result in a 90% reduction in speeding by that driver.

RoadSafetyBC also places high risk drivers on probation under the Driver Improvement Program.

In addition to speed, telematics can monitor hard braking and acceleration as well as abrupt steering. Consistently recorded, these behaviours are indicators of high risk driving practices.

Would electronic monitoring also result in a 90% reduction in high risk driving behaviour while a driver is on probation?

How long will it be before ICBC uses telematics to set insurance rates? It's probably not that far in the future.

Whether you choose to use electronic monitoring of your driving for personal benefit or have it imposed on you by the government when you show that you don't play well with others we could all be safer because of it.

Reference Link:

I suspect that there would be a strong civil liberties pushback if ICBC were to impliment this for everyone, dspite the obvious benefits. The objection would be the GPS tracking rather than speed monitoring. However, if they were to impose this on anyone convicted of  a driving offence, such as speeding, reckless behaviour, etc., that alone would have a big calming effect on the rest of the driving public. I would definitely get on board with that.

If the universe intended for humans to follow pre-programmed mandatory actions we'd all be born as bees. Just because we can attach a surveilance computer to force everyone to control their every move, does't mean that we should. Discounts are surcharges on those who opt-out. Only the historical record of claims is the true representation of the future insurance risk. Telematics is just a method to make everyone as a whole pay more.

The article isn't about setting insurance rates, it's about monitoring drivers who have shown that they cannot follow the rules by committing high risk offences.

If the driver continues to behave that way during the monitoring period, further sanctions could be applied.

Outrageous - What you seem to be proposing is anarchy. Either that or everyone should follow the rules except those few who  feel they should be able to do whatever they please. Everyone values their freedom, but the hallmark of a civilized society is that its members recognize that reasonable restrictions should apply to everyone in order to keep those who feel they are above the law from riding roughshod over the rest.

Do you think that we are currently in a state of anarchy that needs to be ended by attaching a police surveillance computer to everyone?

In reply to by Outrageous

I would object to everyone being targeted. Hisk risk behaviour is another matter altogether. Why should those who drive safely be requred to subsidise those who don't think they need to follow the rules that are designed to keep everyone safe?

In reply to by Phrontistes

"those who drive safely be required to subsidize those who don't think they need to follow the rules" - you can relax, you are not subsidizing anybody who is breaking a rule at any given time.
You are only subsidizing those who's insurance paid more by way of claims than what they've paid in premiums, including yourself by the way, since you are hopefully insured for liability and wouldn't have to pay potential millions in 3rd party liability in-case of an at-fault accident. Wouldn't it make sense to address those drivers who crash often and have burned through a bunch of other people's premiums already? You can also relax on that front, since ICBC is planning on changing the way surcharges (premium increases) are following vehicle registration to following driver licenses, by making policy holders declare principle operators.

This will prevent bad drivers (those who have several at-fault accidents) from signing their cars/insurance to friends/family to avoid paying the premium surcharges (30% increase for each at fault claim) for a few years and waiting out when their claim rated scale discount will return to something more affordable. Meaning these drivers with actual at-fault crashes on record will be forced off the road, at least temporarily.

As far as supporting "high risk behavior", in 2017 police wrote 43,000 use of electronic device tickets - a high risk driving offense. But upward of 80%-90% of these tickets were issued to drivers stopped at traffic lights - not even moving - because its nearly impossible to catch people using phones while driving. So not exactly a high risk behavior in the circumstances.

Excessive speeding received 7,400 tickets, and I'm willing to bet that 80%-90% of those were issued on highways, on sunny days, on long straight stretches of highways designed for 120km/h and signed at 80km/h. Whatever the true answer is, its not unreasonable to generalize that the majority of drivers ticketed were not behaving as risky as its made out.

Alcohol (non-criminal) totals were 21,000 and criminal were 590, its interesting to note, that prior to 2010 all alcohol tickets were criminal - but that changed with "administrative regime" - the crown just went ahead and invented a whole new way to charge people because the crown could not meet the burden of proof of a criminal charge. And they also lowered the limit from 0.08 BAC to 0.05 BAC.

But suffice it to say 59% of "high risk behavior" - those who you propose to stick with surveillance - received their "high risk" designation while idling at a red light. The horror.


This goes back many years when ICBC first started to give discounts. For years they had been telling the public backed by the police that the most dangerous drivers on the road were speeders. It was embarassing when it was pointed out a high number of the drivers with the maximum discount had speeding tickets myself included. Most roads in B.C. the speed is posted below what the average driver will go.

When they refer to the speed of 85% of the traffic this also give a false impression. Most drivers run 10 to 15 over the speed limit, until the speed at which they feel comfortable with is met. Those that claim raising the speed people just driver faster are correct. When the speed is set where it should be the vast majority of the traffic moves at that speed, which helps reduce accidents. The Coq was a good example of this. Sections where the average speed was 120 when the speed was raised to 120 the majority motored on at the same speed.

It would be interesting to see a survey taken of people receiving the highest discount how many have speeding tickets and for drivers that are use to using 2-way communication how many have cell phone or distracted driving convictions yet still receiving the max discount?

Electronic monitoring can tell you a lot of things a driver is doing but is it telling you that he is operating his vehicle unsafely for the road and conditions at that time? Is a person driving 60 in a 100 zone a safe driver on a multi-laned road when he is sitting in the left lane beside anotehr car in the right lane and preventing traffic from overtaking? Does it tell you they are obstructing traffic? Does it tell you the guy that braked harshly and turned quickly just avoided a rock bouncing off the rock bluff? Basically it tells you nothing. 

The Motor Vehicle Act has a lot of sections and unfortunately a vast majority of those enforcing it do not know all the laws. They have been programmed to only look for certain infractions, speeding, seat belts, distracted driving and alcohol. If and only if they start to enforce all the laws things will not change.

They can use whatever instruments they want to enforce the law but it will not reduce the accidents on the road till they actually enforce all laws. You can have everyone driving the speed limit, cell phones off and you are still going to have accidents. Driver training is more important and B.C. has a poor record there. Check the stats on ICBC website.

If speed is such a killer why do they let emergency vehicles exceed the limit and the operators to use cell phones and laptop communication while they are driving? You can claim they have received special training but do you ever stop to consider that many of us have been taking updated training all our life? Are you saying 63 years of accident free driving plus another 8 years as a underage driver does not count for experience?

There is a lot of 16 year old kids that I would prefer to ride with than some of the police officers and emergency responders I have seen on our roads.