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'Drop It and Drive' slams ICBC for using distracted driving as reason to hike rates

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – ICBC is being slammed for using injury claims from crashes due to distracted driving as a reason to raise rates by a group dedicated to preventing distracted driving.

It seems counter-intuitive, but Tim Baillie — a retired firefighter who speaks for Drop It and Drive — has his reasons.

Baillie pulled bodies from car accidents his whole career and is not afraid to speak his mind, calling the insurer’s efforts to prevent distracted driving “way too small.”

“It’s a pitiful excuse for raising rates and if that’s the only reason distracted driving gets ICBC’s attention, then get out of the game. Piss off! I’ve got zero patience with these guys now.”

He believes ICBC was “late to the game” in coming up with a campaign to prevent distracted driving and has too narrow a focus on the problem, mainly targeting mobile devices behind the wheel.

“They’re not out there, they’re not being aggressive with this really important subject and they are not covering the full scope of the issue,” he tells News1130.

“It’s not a serious campaign, but now it’s a serious excuse to raise the rates.”

Baillie wants ICBC to help fund more enforcement of distracted driving laws and would like to see much stiffer penalties for infractions, including confiscation of phones.

ICBC is responding to the criticism by pointing to all the ways it tries to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Adam Grossman with the public insurer says they’ve run many campaigns with police and government, run programs aimed at young drivers and approached the big telecoms to see how they can work together.

“I don’t think anybody in this province funds ads about road safety enforcement more than ICBC does. No one funds education of our safety programs more than ICBC does.”

He says all groups and drivers have a role to play in preventing distracted driving.

ICBC has applied to increase basic vehicle insurance rates by 5.2 per cent, citing a huge spike in injury claims related to distracted driving.