Driver distraction plays a role in eight out of 10 crashes, according to some estimates.

By Mike Davey

Victoria, British Columbia -- April 6, 2017 -- Drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury, according to statistics from the RCMP. It is illegal in many jurisdictions, but that doesn't seem to have had much effect on curbing the behaviour. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has announced it is interested in looking at technological solutions available in the marketplace to limit or prevent driver distraction resulting from the use of personal electronic devices.

"We're looking at every option to deter distracted driving including the potential use of new technologies," said Mark Blucher, ICBC's President and CEO. "We understand the temptations of glancing at a ringing phone or received text message while on the road, so we're exploring every option to prevent distracted driving. ICBC's rates are under considerable pressure from a significant increase in crashes and we're doing all we can to keep people safe and rates as low as possible."

To examine which solutions are currently available, ICBC has posted a Request for Information (RFI) on BC Bid for market research and technology aimed at reducing distracted driving. A joint statement from ICBC and the provincial government says exploring available technology is just one possible way to address the problem, and they inted to look at other ways to reduce crashes caused by distracted driving.

"Keeping British Columbians safe on the road is our number one focus," said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. "Exploring new anti-distracted driving solutions in the marketplace aims to do just that, while staying current in today's digital world. But despite our best efforts it starts with drivers committing to driving distractions-free."

ICBC recently launched a distracted driving campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving. Enhanced police enforcement targeting distracted drivers was increased.

The provincial insurer has also recently kicked off its 20th annual road safety speaking tour. As part of the tour, road safety speakers visit BC high schools to share their own stories with students and remind them of the tragic and life-changing consequences of taking risks while driving.

"Car crashes remain the number one preventable cause of death for youth in BC," said Aileen Shibata, ICBC Road Safety Program Manager. "Our road safety speakers share their personal, heartbreaking stories to get teens talking about the dangers of taking risks behind the wheel and help them make safer choices."


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