How to Prevent Risky Driving

In this recent article, we addressed the fact that the incidences of motor vehicle accidents (MVA) increase over the long weekends in British Columbia. Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t seem to be changing, with local news reporting a wave of MVAs over this past Victoria Day long weekend. It’s therefore quite timely that here at the beginning of the summer driving season, ICBC has announced that new penalties for risky drivers could be in effect by this autumn.

The move is in response to the province’s recent consultation with 35,000 BC drivers regarding the proposed changes to ICBC’s premiums and penalties. The demand for change was made quite clear:

“The responses from the ICBC rate fairness engagement indicate the majority of British Columbians favour changes that will make insurance more affordable for low-risk drivers and see high-risk drivers pay increased insurance premiums to better reflect the risks they represent.” (David Eby, Attorney General)

The B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) is currently reviewing the proposed rate increases for risky drivers, with an expected penalty amount increase of 20 percent in the first implementation, followed by an additional 20 percent hike in the years to come. Of course, the end intent is not to penalize, but to deter risky driving behavior in the first place and keep everyone safer on the roads.

With autumn 2018 four months away, you have time to assess whether or not you exhibit risky driver behavior, so that you can nip it the bud. And once again, Park Insurance is here to help.

3 Simple Ways to Keep from Being a Risky Driver on the Roads this Summer, and Beyond

1. Speeding – Just Don’t Do It

The province has ordered ICBC to propose new penalty rates for repeat offenders to the BCUC. They defined priority offenders, with those caught speeding being a primary target. The good news, is that this is one bad habit that can be changed with the simple act of taking the foot off of the gas. It’s an easy adjustment to adopt, requiring nothing more than complete adherence to the posted speed limits.

The BC Motor Vehicle Act has established a “statutory” speed limit on all public roads, which is 80km/h outside municipalities and 50km/h within municipalities. The regulatory speed limits on ministry highways range from 50 to 110km/h, in 10km/h increments depending on the type of highway.

Pay close attention to all posted speed limit signs including school zones and playground zones.  Summer school, community activities or simply the draw of the monkey bars often mean there are many children on school grounds even during the summer.  ALWAYS drive with extreme caution in these areas.

Keep in mind that responding to a speed limit sign is not necessarily good enough, as you need time to see and react before your vehicle’s brakes take effect and slow down, so keep your eyes on the road ahead for signs. This is especially important, because incremental changes in speed can have a significant impact. ICBC states that when you travel at speeds above 60km/hr, every 5km/hr increase doubles your risk of being in a crash, and when traveling 20km/hr above the average speed, the likelihood of a crash becomes nearly six times as great.

Moving forward, become more familiar with the speed limits of the BC roads and highways that you travel on this summer so that you remain aware of them all year long.

2. Remove ALL Potential for Impaired Driving

The new penalty rates will also zero in on impaired drivers. The legal limit under the Criminal Code is 80 milligrams, or .08, while the legal limit under the BC Motor Vehicle Act is 50 milligrams, or .05.

While you may be tempted Google “how long do I have to wait to drive after having a drink” the answer will invariably depend upon your unique biological makeup, and thus you cannot take any answer you receive to the bank. Therefore, if you intend on having a drink, the best plan is to make alternate arrangements for your trip home – be it transit, taxi or a designated driver. That may seem extreme for some of you, but given the new penalties to come (not to mention the safety of yourself and others on the road!), why risk it?

Of course, the definition of impaired driving is about to get a lot more complicated with legalization of cannabis in BC on the way. Studies show that when compared to the rest of Canada, the rate of cannabis use in BC drivers is already historically high, while at the same time citing clear evidence that canna­bis, like alcohol, impairs the psycho­motor skills required for safe driving. The verdict is still out on how long an average person should wait to drive after using cannabis. This lack of evidence is reason enough alone to err on the side of caution. In addition, all eyes will be on how the province responds to this new road safety concern, and it’s a safe bet that they will come down hard on “under the influence” drivers involved in MVAs. If you use cannabis, be it for medical or recreational purposes, do not do use and drive. It’s not worth the risk.

3. Recognizing (and ending) Distracted Driving

A crackdown on distracted drivers is another priority under the new proposed penalties. Distracted driving is an epidemic in BC, and the province intends to do all that it can to put an end to this risky business.

Take note of the following common driver distractions and be sure to avoid them:

  • Texting
  • Adjusting auto-infotainment controls
  • Adjusting standard automobile controls (GPS, climate controls, etc.)
  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • View more

In addition to the above, it also important to recognize the not-so-typical driver distractions that can have a serious impact on your ability to drive responsibly. These include hands-free phone calls, engaging in conversations with passengers, day dreaming, and even allowing negative thoughts to cloud your mind. View more on these unanticipated driver distractions so that you prevent them from impeding upon your ability to mitigate risky behavior.


Lastly, be sure to have an independent insurance broker review your existing automobile insurance policy right away, before the new rates arrive after the summer season. Contact Park Insurance today.