Beginning drivers are more than five times more likely to be involved in a crash than those with 20 years of experience. (Black Press files)

Making B.C.’s inexperienced drivers smarter than their phones

ICBC expands ‘telematics’ pilot to track speeding, hard braking, distraction

Inexperienced drivers will pay more for their vehicle insurance starting next year, and the Insurance Corp. of B.C. is inviting up to 7,000 of them to sign up for a smartphone-based training program to improve their skills.

The expanded “telematics” pilot project is open to drivers with less than five years of experience as a fully licensed driver. That includes “novice” drivers in B.C.’s graduated licence program.

An initial pilot program for recording drivers’ speed, braking and level of distraction showed enough results to expand the program with a small in-vehicle device that communicates with an app installed on a smartphone, ICBC says.

“We heard from those pilot participants that most believed the use of telematics would make the roads safer for everyone,” said ICBC president Nicolas Jiminez. “This is our next step in a thoughtful examination of telematics technology and how it might help keep these drivers safer.”

READ MORE: ICBC moves to tighten safe driver discount rules

ICBC says the most inexperienced drivers, those with less than one year fully licensed, are more than five times more likely to be involved in a crash and for that crash to be severe than a driver with 20 years of experience.

Interested drivers can sign up for updates at icbc.com/driverpilot to apply for the program that will launch next summer.

Rate increases for next year have been approved the B.C. Utilities Commission, which reviews monopoly services such as basic vehicle insurance, electricity and natural gas rates. Inexperienced drivers will have a higher rate that reduces with years of safe driving, and rates will be adjusted to reflect higher risk in urban areas and regional statistics.

The provincial Crown corporation has struggled with rising accident rate and big increases in injury claim and legal costs.

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