Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is strongly cautioning Transport Canada that its proposed regulatory approach to electronic immobilization will reportedly cause a disservice to consumers and could set back the fight against vehicle theft.
Electronic immobilizers are systems that prevent a vehicle from starting unless a specific electronic code is used.
Transport Canada’s proposed regulation would reportedly require manufacturers of passenger cars and light duty trucks to install electronic immobilization systems in all vehicles sold in Canada by Sept. 1, 2005. The regulations would allow vehicle manufacturers to choose between a Canadian Standard on electronic immobilization (ULC S338) and the considerably weaker Economic Commission for Europe directive (ECE Reg. 97).
Since the publication of the Canadian Theft Deterrent Standard in 1998, IBC has reportedly successfully spearheaded a program for auto makers to voluntarily introduce effective immobilizers.
Currently, 11 vehicle manufacturers participate, resulting in approximately 60 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2003 having compliant systems. At least 10 per cent of vehicles on Canadian roads today have systems meeting the standard.
“We are disappointed that the federal government would effectively ignore a proven Canadian standard in favor of a considerably weaker European standard,” said Bill Cameron, National Director, Auto Theft, IBC. “IBC has demonstrated that vehicles with immobilizers meeting the Canadian standard reduce theft frequency by approximately 50 per cent.”
The Canadian standard, which was developed with Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, vehicle manufacturers and consumers, applies to systems installed by the manufacturer at the time of assembly as well as systems retrofitted into older vehicles. Transport Canada’s authority applies only to new vehicles. At a time when IBC has shown that theft is shifting to older vehicles, Transport Canada would be, in effect, advocating a weaker standard for newer vehicles.
Use of the ECE directive could reportedly, in part, permit other systems, such as those relying on inferior mechanical keys, that thieves can more easily bypass. The Canadian standard requires, among other things, more secure electronic codes.
“Even insurers in Europe consider ECE directives to be too weak and have developed their own security standards,” added Cameron. “Transport Canada, with this ill-advised effort to regulate, is causing a pronounced slowdown of the voluntary introduction by vehicle manufacturers, as auto makers take a wait-and-see attitude.”
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