The provincial government has ordered the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) to look into making distracted drivers pay more for collision costs.
BC attorney general David Eby has proposed that parts of a distracted driver’s insurance coverage should be voided following a collision. This would leave distracted drivers to pay for their own auto repairs, medical costs, and any resulting settlements from the accident.
The change would address the issue of distracted driving while helping stabilize the financial structure of the troubled insurer, Eby explained. The attorney general cited recent statistics that reveal that distracted driving is as bad as (or in some cases, worse than) drunk driving and came to the conclusion that it should be treated the same when it comes to coverage.
Richard McCandless, a former public servant for the province who has written papers on ICBC’s finances, said that he agrees with taking a harder stance on distracted driving, but said that the proposal raises a number of enforcement concerns.
“There’s a lot of subjectivity that comes into [determining whether someone is driving distracted]. With impaired driving you blow [into a breathalyzer] and you get the reading — it’s much more cut and dry,” McCandless told CBC News.
McCandless also warned that implementing such a penalty system could result in even more legal expenses for the ICBC.
“There’s going to be a major incentive [for at-fault distracted drivers] to seek legal opinion and dispute [their loss of coverage] in the courts, which is contrary to what the government is trying to do with reducing the current dependence on lawyers in the system.”