We are idiots. Cars are sacred cows. If you get charged for assault, you may not be allowed to own a gun ever. If you kill a slough of people with your car, no one would EVER take away your car. True, you may get a suspension for a while. You will not get a lifetime suspension. Lifetime suspensions never happen. We need to tame the people on the road and end the era of using pedestrians as target practice. Money talks. Money can be used to make our roads safer.
Auto insurance can be used to shape society. Just as taxes on cigarettes have curbed some smokers, auto insurance rates can make our roads safer. Here are four ways to use ICBC to reshape our roads.
Odometer based insurance. The more you drive, the more you should pay. Conversely, the less you drive, the less you should pay. If you are on the road everyday, contributing to gridlock and global warming and putting yourself in harm's way; you should pay for that privilege.
Discount some of the basic rate (like $100/yr). Find out what the median mileage is for motorists. If that's something like 40km/day x 365 days/year (12,000km/yr.) or $1 per 120km. If you drive 600km per year, you save $95. If you drive 24,000km per year, you get dinged for an extra $100. Every time you come in for auto insurance, you announce your odometer reading. The difference is your premium/discount. When you buy a vehicle, you reset your odometer reading for that vehicle. That's a small encouragement to buy a new vehicle.
This will have two other bonus. It will encourage people to drive less and/or locate their work and home closer to one another. You will be reporting a history of odometer readings. That will be connected to the VIN of your vehicle. If it goes down year between a previous and current owner, you will know that someone has cracked the odometer.
Wheel well based insurance. Vehicle size should raise insurance rates geometrically. This is already being done, but the scale needs to be more drastic to impress upon the tank drivers that smaller is better.
Engine capacity factor. Engine sizes in step with their vehicle size would have no penalty (e.g. 6 litre engine on a truck would be without issue). A 5 litre engine in a Mustang is overkill. That extra capacity is meant for one purpose: speeding. It's illegal to speed. It's illegal to crash your vehicle at high speed into a crowd of people. Why isn't there a disincentive to have a large capacity engine?
More classes. Most people drive around with their Class 5. Motorcyclists drive with their Class 6. Let's call sedans the baseline. SUVs and sportscars have qualities that make them unneccessary for day-to-day driving. They also are responsible for a disproportionate percentage of the accicents of the road. With that said, they shouldn't be illegal to own or illegal to drive. Drivers should know how to operate these vehicles. After 1 year of owning a Class 5 capable vehicle and holding a Class 5, you can train up for one of these specialty classes. Owners would have to train with their vehicles if they fall far outside of the sedan baseline: too fast, too big, too small. Maybe wrap up the training with a video of uncensored crash footage to show them what happens when you play "Gone in Sixty Seconds" on my highway. If a parent purchases a vehicle for their child, the child should train on the vehicle and that may be comparably difficult to license every potential person to sit behind the wheel. Nevertheless, with this power, police could pull out drivers at road checks and have them park their car until someone who knows how to drive their car could pick it up. ICBC has the power to do this. A few years ago, they took over the Motor Vehicle department. They can change this in a heartbeat.
Why this won't happen? Go to the legislature and check out the parking lot. They like big cars, fast cars. They like to drive alot. They like to drive poorly. Having the MLAs of BC push for insurance and licensing reform is like having NAMBLA push for a retrial of Michael Jackson.
How to joust at the insurance-licensing windmill? Email a copy of this entry to someone you know. Send it to your MLA. Next time you test drive an SUV, slip a copy of this entry into the glovebox.