NDP seeks insurance discounts for drivers who disable phones
Published Tuesday, August 15, 2017 6:18PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 15, 2017 7:03PM PDT
B.C.'s new NDP government wants ICBC to incentivize drivers who voluntarily disable their cellphones while they're behind the wheel.
Apps that block texts and calls in moving cars are already being used to cut down on distracted driving in the U.S., and ICBC has been looking at how the technology can be implemented at home since April.
The public insurer was initially exploring making the apps available on a voluntary basis, but Attorney General David Eby told CTV News he would like to see the people who sign up be rewarded.
"Potentially people could have a lower insurance rate if they agree to implement these technologies in their vehicle," Eby said.
If the apps are effective in curbing distracted driving crashes, that would ease some of the growing financial pressure on ICBC. A recent report found the public insurer could have to hike premiums by 30 per cent to keep up with costs, in part because of a sharp 23 per cent increase in accidents that’s been recorded over the last three years.
Many of those crashes are caused by distracted driving, which is now the second-leading cause of death on B.C. roads, ahead of drunkenness and behind only speeding.
Beyond apps, the NDP also wants ICBC to look at wireless devices for cars that track and transmit data on speed and other driving habits, and which could be used to monitor high-risk groups such as teens.
"American-insured drivers get a reduced rate if they implement these in their vehicles. I asked ICBC to look at these kinds of things and they're preparing to do that," Eby said.
The devices do raise some privacy concerns, and Eby acknowledged people who sign on would have to waive some privacy, at least in regards to their driving habits.
ICBC is still in the very early stages of reviewing the technology, and there is no timeline for when it might be introduced in B.C., but spokesperson Joanna Linsangan said it does show some promise.
"What we're trying to do is stop bad driving behaviour with technology. A distracted driving app could be a solution for that," Linsangan said.
"If we all use it and stop using our phones while driving, we will see a reduction in crashes."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sheila Scott