Could photo radar solve ICBC’s financial woes?

Published: July 28, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The fallout from a leaked Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) report has dominated auto insurance news in B.C. over the last week. The report shows that rising claims and collisions has put the public insurance provide in a precarious financial situation and premiums could rise 30% to compensate.

While many have eased concerns premiums will rise, others remain concerned. Some are seeking solutions, and one mooted solution is to make extra revenue from photo radar stations. The proposal was already offered in the leaked report, which was compiled by Ernst & Young, but ICBC head David Eby said he will not reintroduce the measure. Eby, B.C.’s Attorney General also said 30% premium increases will not happen on his watch.

However, it is clear something needs to be done, but Eby believes photo radar is not the answer:

“It is wildly unpopular among British Columbians. They hate it. We’ve heard that loud and clear,” Eby explained in a press conference Monday.

Sense BC, an advocacy group that is against photo radar, says the system only hits drivers for making occasional mistakes and is a way to make easy money for the province. Of course, that is arguably the point for reintroducing them, because the ICBC needs the money.

Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission vice-chair Chris Foord, however, thinks photo radar is the answer. Speaking to CBC, Foord says modern technology is more sophisticated and can make the system more efficient:

“Back when photo radar was there [in 2001], someone had to change the film in the camera,” he said. “There were no smartphones. Laptops were brand new. There were virtually no digital cameras back then. The world is a different place.”

“I am appalled by what I’m seeing,” Foord said. “I don’t know that your right or my right to be that irresponsible and drive at those speeds should go unchallenged.”

British Columbia originally removed its photo radar program in 2001.