Canadian Auto Insurers, Safety Research Group Urge Improved Graduated Licensing Systems

November 18, 2005

Canada’s home, car and business insurers, along with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), have released a study of graduated driver licensing (GDL), and are calling on provincial governments to implement the life-saving changes it proposes.

“Graduated licensing programs currently in place in Canada can, at best, be described as a good start,” said Don Forgeron, vice president, Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “There
is lots of room for improvement, especially in places like P.E.I., whose program lacks the most critical elements of graduated licensing, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the systems are not as effective as they should be.

“Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were among the first jurisdictions to implement graduated licensing. Now that we have groundbreaking research to serve as a road map for the evolution of graduated licensing, will they be leaders again?”

Best Practices for Graduated Driver Licensing in Canada compares GDL programs in Canada to programs elsewhere in the world, and provides an overview of what components would be included in the ideal GDL program. It was funded by IBC and prepared by TIRF – the
a road safety research body in Canada.

Proposed changes include limits on the number of teenage passengers, raising the age of the supervisory driver, extending the night driving restriction in Phase 2, and ensuring that drivers
remain in the first phase of the program for at least one full year.

Stemming from efforts by IBC and TIRF, most provinces in Canada implemented some form of graduated licensing in the 1990s. Those that have been evaluated have all reportedly been shown to have reduced collision rates among novice drivers. Collision reduction rates have been as high as 31% and as low as 5%.

Daniel Mayhew, senior vice president, TIRF said, “Graduated licensing systems are successful because they provide a more protective environment for novice drivers. They lengthen the learning process and impose a set of restrictions on novice drivers aimed at reducing their risk of collision.

“But despite evidence of success, young drivers are still at high risk for dangerous collisions. Drivers age 16-19 years of age have a fatality rate that is four times that of drivers age 25-34, and nine times that of 45-54 year olds.

“We are very proud to have funded this extremely important study by TIRF. We will be knocking on the doors of provincial governments to discuss the results and to talk about how they can improve their graduated licensing programs.

“Canada’s home, car and business insurers are committed to reducing injuries in the home, on the road at play. Obviously, improved road safety is a crucial component of that commitment.”

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