British Columbia to launch pilot programs aimed at distracted driving

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, November 30, 2017

As cellphones and other mobile technologies become more prevalent and continue to add more services, law enforcement officers and motorists are faced with an increasing problem: distracted driving. In Canada, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is introducing two pilot programs to address distracted driving, one for motorists and one for law enforcement.

ICBC and the British Columbia government have collaborated for one pilot program that will combine phone apps with technology known as telematics. Telematics is a combination of telecommunication and vehicle technology, such as apps that track trailers or manage fleets.

In the case of ICBC’s pilot program, the telematics technology being tested will include an app that will essentially disable the use of a handheld device while the vehicle is in motion. Up to 200 people will be selected for the pilot program.

ICBC plans to launch the program in January and issue a report in spring of 2018.

Similar technology is already featured on many smartphones. The latest operating software update for Apple’s iOS devices included the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. When an iPhone connects to a vehicle’s Bluetooth system, the driver will not receive any notifications and will be unable to send or create messages. Several Android smartphones and third-party apps also offer a similar feature.

Other telematics technology has been used to collect data for insurance purposes, including distance traveled and average speeds.

Law enforcement tool
On the law enforcement side, the B.C. government and ICBC will launch a pilot program geared toward enforcing distracted driving laws. The program will feature what is being called a “Bluetooth-enabled distracted driving scope.”

As the name suggests, the device uses telescopic lenses that will capture images of motorists using their cellphones while driving. That image can immediately be shared to nearby officers using Bluetooth technology. Officers who receive the images can then present the photographic evidence to drivers when pulling them over for the violation.

According to an ICBC news release, the Bluetooth scopes “will be tested by police in varying weather and traffic conditions for usability and effectiveness.” The program will begin in the spring of 2018.

“ICBC's rates are under considerable pressure and one of those reasons is a significant increase in crashes, many of which are the result of distracted driving,” said ICBC President and CEO Mark Blucher in a statement.

 

 

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