It's Been a Busy Week!

Exclamation Mark SignIt's been a busy week in B.C. for road safety related announcements by our provincial government. ICBC announced a distracted driving technology pilot project, dangerous drivers may expect to be subject to longer periods of driving prohibition, the CounterAttack program turns 40 years old and the investigation of cognitively impaired drivers will no longer include DriveABLE testing.

Would you like to participate in a telematics pilot project? ICBC will be looking for 200 volunteers willing to connect their smartphones to their vehicles via an app and a dongle that plugs onto the OBD port. The app will block the use of the phone when the vehicle is being driven.

Applicants for the project will be selected from ICBC's Customer Advisory Panel. You are invited to become a member and share your opinions, even if you are not recruited for this test.

Also included in the technology pilot will be the use of Laser Technology Incorporated's TruSpeed SXB with the LaserSoft SpeedCapture app. The device and software are intended to capture an image of the distracted driver at an observation point. The image can then be shared with the officer at the point where the driver is stopped who can then show the evidence along with issuing a ticket.

The same system will also be able to show evidence of speeding when the system is used for speed enforcement.

If you are a street racer, like to do stunt driving on our highways or participate in other high risk driving behaviours such as excessive speeding or driving without due care and attention, you may expect a longer driving prohibition from RoadSafetyBC if caught. “The drivers posing the greatest risk to people’s lives are often caught repeatedly, and that tells us they aren’t taking the consequences seriously,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

Some prohibited drivers continue to drive, even in the face of significant penalties. The use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition by police has made these drivers much easier to find and be held to account. Mandatory vehicle impoundment, regardless of who owns the vehicle, will immediately eliminate the ability to drive in the short term and Civil Foreiture could provide a longer term solution in significant cases.

We've made progress to end alcohol impaired driving since the CounterAttack program began in 1977, reducing the average annual death toll from over 300 to the current level of 65 people. In the face of anticipated changes to our laws surrounding marihuana and widespread use of drugs other than alcohol in our society, it's probably time to change the reference to drunk driving and include all drugs that impair a driver's ability.

ICBC's special event permit kit is available to order for free for party hosts planning to serve alcohol, encouraging guests to not drink and drive.

Finally, it appears that older drivers no longer need to fear a computer based DriveABLE assessment beginning on March 1, 2018. Testing of medically or cognitively impaired drivers will be conducted by ICBC in an Enhanced Road Assessment. RoadSafetyBC's Information Guide outlines the process. It appears that the Class 5 road test will be modified "incorporating new components to assess driving errors that may result from cognitive impairment and other areas of medical concern."

The test is conducted in the driver's own vehicle and will "gradually increase the complexity of driving tasks, provide a break and feedback midway through, and have clear parameters for ending an assessment early if necessary, all to help maximize safety in real-world driving conditions."


What Does He Expect?

“The drivers posing the greatest risk to people’s lives are often caught repeatedly, and that tells us they aren’t taking the consequences seriously,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. Does Mike Farnworth really think that these people are going to voluntarily allow their phone to be made inoperable while driving? I would much rather he spent some money on increased enforcement. Or better yet, pass a law that all new vehicles come equipped with a device that shuts down all electronic devices while the vehicle is in gear.

They won't be the ones participating, though, will they?

The fact that repeat offenders don't seem to take consequences clearly should make us think.

Not about enforcement, although that certainly helps to change the behaviour of many - Class 7 drivers in particular, after being caught and having suffered prohibitions/fines/suspensions. It's the reason virtually all of us these days wear our seatbelts, and take great care not to be impaired behind the wheel.

It means that the authorities need to realize that in this day and age, when ticketing is primarily focused on speeders - whilst wealthy miscreants accept the slim chance of being hit with fines and a few points as a cost of living their lifestyles - suggests that the whole system needs an overhaul.

I already have the One Tap App installed on my phone - voluntarily - so I don't need some device from ICBC plugged into my vehicle. 


Fines Based Upon Income

I think one possible option might be to give out traffic fines based upon income, which exists in countries like Finland. That should discourage even the most wealthy from breaking traffic laws.

Here's an interesting example:

Income based fines?

It is an interesting example, and no doubt effective in many ways.

But it still allows wealthy scofflaws to hold a valid Driver License, and that's just wrong.

The whole idea behind the Point System, as I see it, is to remove the most dangerous drivers from the road (by suspending/prohibiting their license for a finite period) in order to protect the rest of us from their behaviour.

What we see happening these days is an increasing disinterest on the part of the police to enforce traffic laws, accompanied by a desire on the part of ICBC to levy financial penalties on those who are involved in collisions and held at fault. This, of course, results in an overloaded court system and an insurance organization that seems to prioritize having the best lawyers ... 


I think the quote refers mainly to Racing and Stunt Driving. These drivers will now face driving suspensions from three months to three years instead of just 15 days. Pretty big change, and maybe that will discourage some repeat offenders.

You're right that increased enforcement will help, but increased enforcement can cost a lot. The new distracted driving and speeding tech might make it easier to enforce, though.

For the cell phone tech, perhaps after the initial voluntary test, ICBC might make repeat distracted drivers install it or reward other drivers for installing it with insurance incentives.

Regardless, it's really hard to change driving behaviours, but I think this direction shows promise.

Closing the gate after the horse has left

With autonomous driving just a few years down the road and more vehicles daily being put on the road that detect problems and stop automatically why is the government implementing laws that will be obsolete in a few years?

That's pretty funny ...

... for years, people have criticized how Road Tests are conducted, but when the licensing/testing authority respond by trying to improve how things are done you figure they should just leave well enough alone.

Ensuring that seniors are still safe and capable behind the wheel is one of the top priorities these days, and I reckon ICBC are doing their best to address this. Y'know, so our children can be safe from the ones who shouldn't be driving any more so that these same youngsters can enjoy that autonomous future you envision?


Biggest complaint in my area is that seniors have to take a 4 hour trip to be examined. Testing should be done in any community that can issue a drivers licence.

That should change for the better, actually!

Access to a DriveABLE venue (for want of a better term) is, I'm sure, a challenge for many in smaller communities in BC.

So from that point of view, I find myself in agreement that 'testing should be done in any community that can issue a drivers licence'.

That being the case, then every community should find their access to Re-Examinations for the service improved, inasmuch as ICBC have determined that they should be providing this directly within their framework. It's unlikely that every single Driver Examiner in the province will be retrained for this - they already have standards that control which DE's are authorized to conduct various tests.

So the probability is that anyone seeking Driver License services - including a Re-Ex - will only be improved within the existing structure, once they have made DriveABLE redundant in March.


Why reward the scofflaw?

I may be a strange duck but I don't have my cell on while driving. I rarely have the radio on and only if I'm going to a place I've never been to before, do I have the GPS in the corner of the windshield. I avoid conversations in the car unless traffic is light and/or there is little probability of cross-traffic entering my path.

My car has a radio with knobs. Climate controls with knobs or levers. I don't have to look at them to adjust things.

I haven't had an ICBC claim for several years.

So ICBC is offering "reduced premiums" to the scofflaws who volunteer for the telematics pilot project? What about lowering the premium levels for those like me? Hammer the heck out of those who keep crashing.

Extreme "street racers", "stunt drivers" (not quite sure what that is) and so on .....  well there is a way. Impound the vehicle and invite the driver to watch as their beloved Ferarri, Porsche, Lamborghini or whatever gets dumped into a car crusher .... with no insurance payout. Throw his/her Smart phone in too .....


ICBC and lower rates

I have been trying for several years to get an update on figures ICBC provided a couple of years after implementing the graduated licencing program. What the figures showed was that new drivers that took an approved drivers training course had a higher rate of accidents than those that were taught by parents or friends. Doesn't say much for programs that ICBC implements.

And this one goes back several years but does have a bearing on the so called repeat offenders. Now this does not include drivers that are involved in accidents. As I say I forget the percentages but I am sure it was around 50% of people that were receiving the maximum discount for safe driving accident free for several years had speeding tickets. We repeatedly hear how bad speeding is and here numerous people are getting the maximum discount. On top of that I now know two police officers who have had cars impounded for excessive speeding.

And one figure which one was never able to obtain was the number of police vehicles were caught in photo radar traps while they were operational. I am not talking about cars involved in pursuit or rushing to emergencies. These were vehicles just driving the same as you and I with no emergency equipment operating. And apparently transit busses picked up tickets in photo radar.

Could this be the reason for impounding vehicles over 40K above the speed limit? Might be getting the maximum discount for insurance but at least you can force them to walk for a few days. 

Show me those statistics you're claiming then!


I have been trying for several years to get an update on figures ICBC provided a couple of years after implementing the graduated licencing program. What the figures showed was that new drivers that took an approved drivers training course had a higher rate of accidents than those that were taught by parents or friends. 

Let's put a few facts on the table, shall we?

GLP in BC was launched on August 3rd, 1998. At that time, to the best of my recollection, the creation of the Class 7 L/N category of driver required that they would be ineligible to apply for the full driving privilege (i.e. a Class 5 license) unless they had held the Class 7 L license for a year. This period would be shortened considerably - to six months - if they had successfully completed an Approved Driving Course; they also received a couple of minor Grade 11 credits from the Ministry of Education. Minimum requirements included approximately 20 hours of Classroom training, accompanied by at least 12 hours of Professional Instruction, and the requirement to submit a signed Driver Log that showed no less than 60 hours of total time behind the wheel; that would mean at least 48 hours of concurrent time behind the wheel with parents or friends, along with the professional instruction.

For purposes of comparison to what had been the case previously, it meant that you couldn't just turn 16, go get your learner's license, and then take your road test 30 days later and be fully licensed - even though you might not have ever encountered driving in the various challenging conditions that would probably have presented themselves over 365 days.

And it's noteworthy that only about 10-to-15 percent of new drivers in BC obtain professional instruction, and only a limited number of schools - typically with a classroom facility and sufficient experienced and GLP certified instructors received approval to deliver these courses, so a minimal number of new drivers ever had the opportunity, and that existed from their social and economic background.

Move on two or three years - it was at least that long before any solid statistics could be determined, never mind revealed - and to the surprise, and perhaps chagrin of many - but ICBC weren't finding any statistical proof that taking professional education made any difference to the crash stats for new drivers, overall. And that's not the same as your absurd assertion that those who had received professional education had a higher accident rate, sir!

Think about this for a moment. To begin with, ICBC introduced GLP in concert with many licensing jurisdictions around the country, and around the world. The basic concept, that drivers who 'learned to drive' after 30 days of whatever they spent that time doing, rather than a year or whatever time they spent with the ability to hone their skills and experience under tutelage has to be solid; this should be fundamentally obvious to anyone with a high school education.


Once ICBC decided that their statistical numbers didn't show any substantive difference between GLP Approved drivers, a year or two after they got licensed, and the majority (those who didn't have access/funds to purchase such a course) in terms of accident rates - and this, to be fair, was two or three years later - they dropped the 6 month 'discount' to be eligible for the Class 5 license for taking such a course; though I think they still offer the High School credits.

Doesn't say much for programs that ICBC implements.

Oh, get serious here, would you? What do you think motivates those guys 'n gals at the corporation we all love to hate (believe me, they exasperate me too, in more ways than I could tell you and remain on topic)?

Not to say that there isn't some serious room for improvement that ICBC, as a Licensing authority, and an Insurance company, should be following up.

But presenting hearsay - including your fake news about supposed crash rates amongst GLP drivers claiming that suggest that properly trained drivers are more dangerous to the rest of us - isn't valid. Any more than your assertions that Police vehicles and Bus drivers were ignored by the photo radar traps in the 90's ... well, actually I suspect that may be true; but they're never going to let us know about that, any more than we'll be advised of the crash statistics involving police drivers and bus drivers, are they?


I Recall This Too

I too recall reading about crash rates somewhere, although I cannot find a source now. The gist of it was that young drivers who were trained tended to be overconfident and make more mistakes because they took risks that they should not have.

This Coroner's report that reviews young driver deaths does credit the GLP for an overall reduction.

Here are your statistics

Competent driving B.C.

How about backing up your position with some statistics? Would be greatly appreciated before dismissing mine.

Now to Tim our moderator in your case I am being facetious but where do I send my invoice for research:) If you had read page 20 of the report you quoted would have saved me hours of frustration looking for the information which is on page 88 of the report I was thinking of. By the way the difference between new drivers that had taken an approved ICBC driving course compared to those that didn't was 26%. No small number.

Back in the preliminary report it was recommended that ICBC do further studies on the effectiveness of an approved drivers training course and as this was never done according to the report quoted below I am going to take the humongous leap and say the reason it was never followed up was the figures have not changed significantly from the preliminary report. I am sure if there was shown reductions of accidents it definitely would have been pointed out and recommendations made or even a requirement to take a driving course.

Now onto the information for Competent driving BC that he requested I provide:

"The GLP course was last evaluated in 2006 at which time it was found that drivers who had taken an ICBC-approved driver training course had a 26% higher crash rate during their first year at the Novice stage (Wiggins, 2006). A possible explanation for this finding was that drivers who completed the course during the Learners stage were offered a time incentive meaning they could obtain their Novice stage licence sooner. In 2007, the time incentive at the Learners stage was removed and transferred to the Novice stage. Since this time, the course has not been re-evaluated."

"Move on two or three years - it was at least that long before any solid statistics could be determined, never mind revealed - and to the surprise, and perhaps chagrin of many - but ICBC weren't finding any statistical proof that taking professional education made any difference to the crash stats for new drivers, overall. And that's not the same as your absurd assertion that those who had received professional education had a higher accident rate, sir!"

Competent driving BC please read the above direct quote from the report mentioned. It clearly states a 26% increase in accident in the first year at the novice stage. And I will stand by my statement that if this figure had changed to any degree they definitely would have provided more information as it was recommended in the 2006 report.

Now it has been decades since I took statistics but to the best of my memory and it is getting feeble in order to have any validity to what one is quoting you have to have a control group. In other words to compare the effectiveness of any GLP program you require an equal number of individuals not involved in the program. This has never been done to my knowledge anywhere in the world. So to say GLP is responsible for the reductions of accidents or deaths in based on nothing other than a downward trend that could be explained by many factors such as improved vehicle safety to the fact fewer 16 year olds are applying for their licence.

To compare a brand new vehicle prior to August 3, 1998 with what a new driver would be using as a brand new vehicle prior to 2015 is almost apples to oranges. That new vehicle when GLP was introduced would be lucky to have ABS. In the period since then ABS, TC, ESC, FCW, AEB, BSW, LDW, LKA, and I am sure there is a few things I have missed as some vehicles are already able to make the next step to autonomous driving.

One thing I found interesting in the report that Tim posted the link to during the period there was only 1 death which was related to cell phone usage.

To be fair they have moved the 6 month reduction in time to get a full licence to the Novice state but again there has been no follow up on how effective the program is.

I started my working career as a public servant and granted ICBC does not fit that category 100% but that is what they really are. I do understand how many of those employees think. I was one of them, and sadly nothing has changed over the last half century. Someone comes up with an idea and they will run with it regardless if there is any statistical information to back up the idea.

On the other hand the best way to improve your driving skill is to get hours and kilometers behind the wheel under all road, light and weather conditions. If you only drive in daylight during the summer how are you going to make out on a winter day?

Personally I believe there is merit to the GLP program but I believe the one in place currently is not the model we should be using. To say it is reducing accidents I am not sure. From 2004 to 2008 the death rate was up and down. Since 2008 it has been taking great strides downward. Only problem since 2008 all those nifty little safety features have become more common in all new cars. Could these safety features be responsible for the decline?? Until there is a control group to compare to we will never know.

Follow Tim's link and turn to page 20 that is where I got the stats from. I will be forwarding to the moderator a copy of the 2006 report and the information quoted on page 20 and what I referred to in my original post is on page 88


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