Drivesmart column: We need to get at the roots of the ICBC dumpster fire: crashes

The average of 960 crashes per day in 2017: about one in 10 B.C. drivers played a part in this issue

By Tim Schewe

ICBC 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 10 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.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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