EDITORIAL: Flip the switch on cellphones

Don't put all the blame on IVCBC for increasing vehicle insurance

Before jumping all over ICBC for requesting an increase of 5.2 per cent for basic insurance, let’s look at their reasons for the request.

Claims are up – way up – from five years ago.

Bodily injury claims hit $1.9 billion in 2013, up $73 million from 2012 and by more than $500 million from five years earlier.

That’s 33 per cent higher than five years ago.

Legal and medical costs are also up.

And what has happened in the past five years?

Technology.

The ever-growing use of cellphones and other personal electronic devices by drivers is a major factor cited for the rise in injury claims.

But why should those of us without cellphones pay more because of the irresponsibility of some of those with them? Perhaps it’s time for ICBC to start awarding further reductions to those who do not have cellphones, or those who do not use them in their cars.

Of course, something like that would be near impossible to monitor. The real solution is for the automotive industry to jump in and rectify the situation.

Here’s how.

Install a mechanism in the motor of the car that renders smartphones, laptops and other such instrumentation useless, while the engine is engaged.

Impossible? Hardly. After all, you can turn on the lights of your Courtenay house from your hotel room in Victoria now. A disengage switch for smartphones et al should be a breeze.

Too “Big Brother” for you? Don’t consider it “Big Brother”; consider it improvement to vehicle safety for the good of all.

Remember, seatbelts used to be optional; as did motorcycle helmets. Plenty of people protested those laws as well. But we eventually got over it.

Heaven forbid that we should be forced to drive without the use of a phone, or a laptop, or a DVD player.

That’s so 1990.

And what did car insurance cost in 1990?