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VANCOUVER, Feb. 12 – Currently, new drivers in British Columbia who complete a Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) approved course through a designated driver training school receive a three-month time reduction in the Learner stage. This is about to change, says Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

After March 31, 2007, any new driver who starts and completes an approved course will no longer be eligible for the three-month Learner stage time reduction. Evaluation of BC’s GLP has shown that keeping new drivers in the supervised Learner stage for the full 12 months is important for maximizing the road safety benefits of the program. The more supervised learning time the better.

Instead, new drivers will be eligible for a six-month reduction in the GLP Novice stage if they successfully complete a GLP course through an approved driver training school and stay violation- and at-fault crash free for the first 18 months of the Novice stage. The six-month Novice stage reduction is reward for completing comprehensive training and demonstrating safe driving attitudes and behaviours by staying out of crashes and following the rules of the road.

“We are making a good program better,” said Nettie Wagner, ICBC vice president Driver Services. “Research shows that Novice drivers are at the greatest risk of crashing at the start of the Novice stage when they are no longer required to be accompanied by an adult while driving. Requiring new drivers to remain in the supervised Learner stage for the full 12 months before moving to the Novice stage is an important move for the safety of our new drivers and all British Columbians.”

Drivers need both safe driving attitudes and skills to stay out of crashes. Road-safety research shows driver training to be effective in new driver skill development, as it allows them to gain experience on the road in a controlled low-risk environment. ICBC and BC’s driver training industry will continue to look for other opportunities to improve road safety for new drivers.

In its first three years, GLP reduced the new driver crash rate by 16 per cent. However, in 2005, new drivers were still 23 per cent more likely to be involved in crashes than more experienced drivers.

Graduated Licensing Program

  • British Columbia introduced graduated licensing on August 4, 1998 to reduce the number of crashes involving new drivers. The staged licensing process allows new drivers to learn to drive in low-risk environments.
  • In its first three years, the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) reduced the new driver crash rate by 16 per cent.
  • Despite this drop, new drivers (drivers with fewer than four years of experience, including GLP drivers) were still more likely to be involved in crashes than more experienced drivers. Most of the crash reductions came from the learner stage, when new drivers must have a supervisor.
  • To help reduce new drivers’ crashes, in October 2003, new graduated licensing rules were introduced that included:
    • increasing the length of the Learners (12 months) and Novice stages (24 months)
    • adding a safe driving requirement in the Novice stage (drivers must return to the beginning of the Novice stage if they receive a driving prohibition)
    • restricting novice drivers to carry one passenger unless accompanied by a supervisor aged 25 or over, unless the passengers are a member of the driver’s immediate family
  • Evaluation of BC’s GLP has shown that keeping new drivers in the supervised Learner stage for the full 12 months is important for maximizing the road safety benefits of the program. A GLP Year 3 Evaluation Report indicated that drivers who completed training and exited the Learners stage early had higher odds of being involved in a crash during their first 6 months of the Novice stage.
  • ICBC consulted with the driver training industry and various road safety stakeholders before the corporation made a final decision on a new replacement incentive for the GLP approved driver training course.
  • As of March 31, 2007, the three-month Learner stage reduction will be removed and replaced with a six-month reduction at the end of the Novice stage. To qualify, drivers must successfully complete a GLP course through an approved school and stay violation- and at-fault crash free for the first 18 months of the Novice stage.
  • Drivers who take their first lesson of the GLP course through an approved school before March 31, 2007 and complete the course requirements by March 31, 2008 are still eligible to receive the three-month reduction in the GLP Learner stage.

For more information, visit www.icbc.com.