This month, ICBC is expanding upon its Road Safety Speaker Program, with speakers sharing personal experiences with high school students about risky driving and the importance of making smart decisions behind the wheel. With at least two young driver fatalities per month and 20 youth injuries daily across the province, it is critical for teens to take even greater responsibility for the sake of the themselves, their families, friends, and the general public. Today, Park Insurance is engaging you, not your parents (folks, please share accordingly), as we value your independence and willingness to help create a better world, beginning with the roads to and from our cherished communities.

5 Safety Tips Relevant to New Young Drivers in British Columbia in 2019

1. Put Your Smartphone Away 

You saw this coming a mile away, right? We know we sound like your parent/s with this one, but it’s worth repeating as distracted driving is the top contributing factor (approximately 34 percent) to young driver accidents in BC, with smartphone use (texting and talking) being the primary distraction for many.

For those of you who may be struggling with smartphone addiction, the best preventative step you can take is to leave your phone in your book-bag/backpack/purse out of reach in the backseat, hatch, or trunk. If you have some self-control and can resist the urge to check your phone every 5-minutes at the very least set your device to Do Not Disturb mode before turning the ignition, and consider downloading an app that recognizes when your device has entered the vehicle, and shuts down its ability to text, email, and navigate the web, while still allowing access to emergency services (i.e. calling 911).

2. understand the new definition of driving under the influence

There’s no need to lecture you about the dangers of drinking and driving, right? You know this. But an addendum is required here in 2019, with the legalization of recreational cannabis use. Of course, anyone under the age of 19 in BC is legally forbidden to use either, and you shouldn’t, but unfortunately you will be bombarded by peers and others, telling you that various strains of cannabis won’t hurt your performance behind the wheel. The fact is, cannabis use (in all its forms) absolutely impacts your ability to operate a vehicle and if an motor vehicle accident (MVA) ensues you could face criminal charges and liability claims that could leave you and/or your parent/s in financial ruin. Please review our detailed guide on how cannabis use impacts road safety and liability for BC drivers, and share it with your peers.

3. Ask Passengers to be More Considerate

While you may keep away from your phone and other activities (eating, putting on makeup, etc.) that can distract you from the road, your friends (passengers) will not be following suit. They will be on their devices, scarfing down fast food, messing with the auto-infotainment controls, and ranting about the latest gossip as you attempt to drive from A to B. We know you don’t want to go all “parental” on them, but you can ask that they resist showing you someone’s recent Instagram post while driving, and to avoid eating/sipping in the front seat so that you’re not stressed about them spilling something in your (or your parent’s) car. In addition, decide upon music selections before getting into the vehicle in order to keep front passengers from playing around with the controls in search of a better streaming station. The same goes for A/C and anything else that causes opinionated “conflict” in the vehicle.

In the end, you may have to exercise some personal zen to keep your pals from distracting you, but ultimately it will help keep everyone safe.

4. Be Careful About Letting Friends Drive Your Car

If you and your friends trade clothes then you might also be open to letting them take the wheel from time to time. We ask that you take a moment to reflect on whether or not they are as responsible as you, and if you can, take note of characteristics that may make then a good or bad driver. Are they aggressive and/or impatient? Do they tend to get nervous easily? If so, it’s best to let them enjoy the passenger side.  If they keep pleading, let them know about ICBC’s recent efforts to begin penalizing drivers instead of vehicle owners. Being on the hook for liability claims may very well dissuade them from asking ever again. View more on the potential implications of letting your buddies get behind the wheel.

Lastly, never let a friend with a learner’s permit operate the vehicle. Even an empty parking lot has numerous threats than can cause damage to the vehicle and lead to injury within.  Remember, in BC, an individual with a learner’s permit who wishes to drive must be accompanied by a supervisor who is at least 25 years old with a valid drivers licence.

5. Start Learning About Automobile Insurance (YES, REALLY)

Your parent/s may have taught you about the importance of building credit history from an early age, but the same goes for your driver history. From the moment that license slides into your wallet, your background on the road begins. Every fender bender and violation gets added to your profile, but conversely, so does every lack thereof. What will your future look like?

One of the best things you can do is to start learning more about automobile insurance policies in British Columbia. In BC, you can insure your car with a learner’s license, so this is a great place to start if you’re just in the beginning stage. All newly licensed B.C. drivers start at base rate on the claim-rated scale with no discount offered on your insurance premiums. For each subsequent year you’ve been insured claim-free, you may be eligible for a 5% discount.  You will be pleased to know that new drivers automatically receive up to 13 months’ credit for time they spent in the learner stage of the graduated licensing program (GLP). If you hold a valid learner’s licence for longer than 13 months, you may receive additional learner’s credit.

If you’ve held a license for a couple of years now, we also recommend that you take a driver refresher test to make sure you’re on track. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to include your parent(s) on this one too, as they probably need it more than you do!

While you can learn a lot by reviewing ICBC FAQ, there’s nothing quite like a face-to-face experience to better understand and retain information about your coverage. This is another one to include the folks on, as like many Canadians, they may not have a full grasp about what is and isn’t covered by their current plan. Ask your parent(s) to schedule a consultation with an independent broker to go over your Autoplan coverage and attend the meeting with them so that you can learn about the process and the coverage available to you, firsthand.