Surrey business community urges distracted driving crackdown amid ICBC rate hike fears

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WATCH: ICBC considering raising premiums by 30 per cent – Jul 24, 2017

Surrey’s business community is calling for a crackdown on distracted driving amid concerns over a possible massive insurance rate hike.

A recently published Ernst & Young report found ICBC is facing major financial hurdles, and warned of the potential need to hike rates by as much as 30 per cent.

The Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) is touting a new survey of members, which found a strong desire for increased penalties for distracted drivers in a bid to get costs under control.

SBOT president Anita Huberman said between 65 and 85 per cent of respondents supported proposed anti-distracted driving measures, including stiffer penalties, new technological tools, and infrastructure upgrades such as rumble strips.

READ MORE: ICBC a financial train wreck, critics say

Members also offered support for a doubling of the number of intersection cameras, and even some support for photo radar.

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Nearly half of respondents offered some measure of support for the controversial measure, while about 35 per cent of said they were opposed or strongly opposed to speed cameras.

Responses regarding photo radar ranged from “any tool that can be used to reduce speeding should be pursued” to “photo radar is unconstitutional,” and “it was misused.”

WATCH: New questions about ICBC

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New questions about ICBC – Feb 22, 2017

“We’re seeing accidents, we’re seeing people driving quickly above speed level and I think drivers in general, whether they’re business people or drivers for personal use, they want to be driving on safe roads,” Huberman said.

The survey also found strong opposition to a range of proposed changes to ICBC’s basic insurance plan, which include varying caps on payouts in different scenarios.

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READ MORE: Baldrey: Brace yourself for huge ICBC rate hikes

Nearly 70 per cent rejected the implementation of no-fault insurance.

Attorney General David Eby has rejected both the re-implementation of photo radar and a switch to no-fault insurance.

“We’re looking at ways to minimize costs and penalize those drivers who are increasing our costs as a result of their bad driving habits,” said Huberman.

WATCH: Full coverage of ICBC

Earlier this week, Eby said the NDP has asked ICBC to look into a range of technological options that could reduce distracted driving and improve the insurer’s ability to settle claims.

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Those include voluntary programs that could lock a driver out of their cellphone or track driving behaviour. Drivers who signed up would be eligible for a break on insurance rates.

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

Last year, the former BC Liberal government announced ICBC would cease to insure high-end vehicles in a bid to rein in skyrocketing costs.

ICBC is facing growing scrutiny in the wake of repeated warnings that the Crown corporation is on the path to either insolvency or skyrocketing rates.

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.

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