ICBC researching hazard testing that led to 11% reduction in U.K. new driver crash rates

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Global News has learned ICBC is researching computerized hazard perception testing technology to see how it could potentially be used to reduce crashes and mitigate claims' costs. Kristen Robinson reports – Mar 24, 2019

A child chasing a ball on the sidewalk, a cyclist, another driver exiting a parked car or a pedestrian crossing against traffic – all road hazards that a driver must anticipate and react to in order to avoid a collision.

In an effort to reduce crashes, curb claims costs and improve road safety, ICBC is taking a look at computerized hazard perception training and testing that could help new drivers spot those risks.

In a BC Bid Request for Information (RFI) that closed on March 22, ICBC is “seeking to understand what platforms could be developed or are currently available for driver hazard perception training and testing.”

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In a standard hazard protection test, a new driver is shown a series of short videos recorded from a motorist’s point of view – and is then required to identify potential hazards by touching the screen or clicking the mouse.

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“I think ICBC’s on the right track,” said Wallace Driving School CEO Steve Wallace.

“The best way to reduce crashes and to reduce their financial liability is with education.”

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Hazard perception tests are already part of driver testing regimes in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia.

ICBC says road safety research suggests that the speed at which a hazard is identified directly correlates with the likeliness that a young driver will be involved in a crash.

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The U.K. recorded an up to 11 per cent decrease in new driver crash rates after it introduced hazard perception testing in its licensing programs.

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“The results would be duplicate or perhaps even better,” said Wallace, who supports the implementation of similar testing in B.C.

“This kind of hazard perception works. Rather than reinvent the wheel – why don’t we just copy a jurisdiction that’s got it right and that’s the British.”

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ICBC’s research is in response to the Child Death Review Panel, which studied the crash deaths of 106 young drivers between 2004 and 2013.

One of the key recommendations in Michael Egilson’s February 2015 report was to review B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Program(GLP) – which requires drivers complete a 12 month “Learner” and 24 month “Novice” stage before becoming eligible for a full licence.

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Since the regime’s implementation in 1998, young driver deaths are down – but motor vehicle crashes are still the leading killer of youth between the ages of 15 to 18.

In a February 2018 letter to the province’s chief coroner regarding the Child Death Review Panel recommendation, ICBC president and CEO Nicolas Jimenez advised Lisa Lapointe that “implementing HPT was perceived as the most effective potential GLP enhancement by both new drivers and parents.”

B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth told Global News that it’s absolutely critical we look at the hazard perception testing programs in place in other jurisdictions to learn how driver safety can be improved in our province.

“I think if we can learn what’s happening there and implement those kinds of initiatives here in B.C., I think that’s a very positive step forward.”

ICBC says it’s only in the early stages of exploring the available options through an RFI so it’s too soon to say when we could see computerized HPT included in driver testing regimes in B.C.