Bob Groeneveld has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with Langley readers for the past four decades, give or take a few weeks.

Odd Thoughts: Whiners still crashing in on ICBC

Insurance and whining have been staples for motorists since speed and common sense collided

By Bob Groeneveld

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You’ve got to have insurance if you want to drive.

That’s not just here in BC where ICBC rules the roost, but throughout Canada and in practically every country throughout the world.

The British were the first to recognize the need for it, instituting a mandatory insurance requirement in 1930… after more than 10 years of roadway mayhem.

At the turn of the 20th Century, cars like the smokin’ hot Stanley Steamer were rolling along fast enough to do appreciable damage to anyone who got in the way… but it was pretty hard to get in the way of a speeding driver, since there weren’t more than a handful in any given town.

By the time the First World War rolled around, cars were capturing imaginations. The local Mercedes owner – if there was one in town – could crank it up to an impressive 100 kilometres per hour.

In the decade after WWI, manufacturers like Dusenberg made it possible for anyone with a wad of cash and a taste for speed to drive a car that could sneak up on 200 km/h… and irresponsible motoring habits exploded.

Authorities reacted by invoking speed restrictions, which motorists deemed unfair and consequently often ignored, unless there was a police officer immediately available to witness the infraction… or they actually ran someone over.

Believe it or not, some drivers continue to exceed posted speed limits even today, and still offer the excuse that it is not fair to be restricted unless there is a police officer immediately available to witness the infraction… or they actually run someone over.

From the beginning, the hazards of crossing intersections at formidable speeds was recognized, and in a number of jurisdictions, drivers were required to stop, step out in front of the vehicle, and look both ways for pedestrians or other “traffic”, before crossing any intersection.

And some drivers today are upset about intersection cameras! Of course, we wouldn’t need them today if we still required having a passenger lead us through every intersection on foot… which I suppose, would fix the intersection speeding problem as well as ensuring visibility of competing traffic.

Of course, irresponsible drivers then, as now, ignored the rules… or whined bitterly about how unfair they were.

Recent whining has been over intersection cameras used to penalize drivers who refuse to send a passenger out into the street ahead of them to check for cross traffic.

Now they’re whining that ICBC is changing the rules so you’ll have to list all the drivers who may be using your car – and consequently your insurance policy. If your list includes bad drivers, your insurance rates will go up… and the rest of us won’t be subsidizing your free-loading son/daughter/buddy/whatever quite so much anymore.

It feels like a swing back towards Premier Davey Barrett’s original vision for ICBC when he established it in 1973, and away from Premier Christy Clark’s 2010 changes that sent it down a road to destruction.

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