NDP asks ICBC to look at high-tech solutions to distracted driving

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Attorney General David Eby says he’d like to see ICBC implement technology to put the brakes on distracted driving.

Eby said he’s asked the Crown corporation to investigate a variety of high-tech tools, including those that could lock up a driver’s cellphone.

“We’re asking ICBC to look at everything from driving assistance mechanisms — like emergency braking to assist in avoiding rear-end collisions — to devices that would monitor driving habits that people would take on voluntarily.”

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Eby said technology used in some U.S. jurisdictions is able to track when cars are braking or accelerating suddenly or making sharp turns — information that would be valuable to the insurer.

As an incentive, drivers who opt into the tech would be given a break on their insurance, Eby said.

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“[It’s] something that we need to get a handle on, and if technology can help us do that then that’s good news for ratepayers, it’s good news for drivers, because our roads will be safer,” Eby said.

“And it will reward drivers who are not using their phones while driving because they’ll be paying lower insurance rates, I think it’s a win-win if we can make it work.”

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According to ICBC, an average of 78 people die per year in B.C. because of distracted driving, more people than are killed by impaired drivers.

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ICBC has been in the spotlight in recent months, with repeated warnings the public insurer is on the path to either insolvency or skyrocketing rates.

READ MORE: Most drivers think someone else is at fault, ICBC driving study shows

The NDP blames the BC Liberals for withdrawing more than $1 billion from the Crown corporation, while the Liberals point to increasing numbers of collisions and the rising cost of repairs.

ICBC was created by the NDP the early 1970s to provide affordable and universal auto insurance.

All B.C. vehicle owners are required to purchase basic coverage through the corporation, though in 1976 the government began allowing private insurers to compete in offering additional optional coverage.

–With files from the Canadian Press

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