Supercar Accidents: Speed vs. Safety in Vancouver

For many, it is a struggle to maintain a life in the Lower Mainland with the cost of living soaring over recent years. While real estate receives most of the media attention, Vancouver’s growing fleet of “supercars” is increasingly hard to ignore. While most of the time these vehicles are driven responsibly, on occasion some drivers take advantage of the excess power these vehicles have and turn Vancouver’s streets into a racetrack.

A supercar is a luxury vehicle defined by ICBC as:

  • over $150,000, with a model year that falls within seven years of the current year or
  • over $400,000, with a model year that falls within 14 years of the current year.

When news breaks of a luxury high-speed car accident it raises a long-standing debate whether supercars are even safe on our streets. Most notably, the recent incident where one person was killed and two were critically injured, involving an Audi R8 on the Burrard Bridge. These and other incidents beg the question: Does a car with a top speed of 323 km/hr belong on Vancouver’s streets?

According to ICBC’s December 2017  Quick Statistics report, in 2016 there were over 1,790,000 cars on the road on any given day in the lower mainland. Approximately 3,000 of them were luxury cars. There were 31 fatal accidents in the Lower Mainland alone where speed was the contributing factor, another 51 were due to high-risk driving behaviours and another 10 were caused by driving too fast for the conditions. These numbers reflect the highest mortality rate due to speed since 2012.

Supercars can be driven faster than normal cars. By definition, this makes them more dangerous to the public. ICBC has attempted to mitigate the speed issue through instituting, ‘The faster you go, the more you pay.’ For excessive speeds that are 40km over the posted speed limit, the car can be impounded. For repeat offenders the time of impoundment goes up. As of January 2017, ICBC introduced an additional application for high-value luxury cars for damage coverage outside of the basic AutoPlan insurance premiums. But is this all enough?

Insurance premiums already take the type of car into account to some extent when assessing insurance premiums. Sports cars generally cost more to insure than your standard passenger car. Should the owners of supercars be assessed higher premiums generally or should premiums be based on the person’s driving record or both?

Insurance costs go up from year to year like all other costs and all drivers share this expense. However, when costs go up due to poor driving habits and repeated at-fault accidents, should all drivers pay for these increased insurance costs or should they be passed on to the bad drivers? Such a policy could increase premiums for bad drivers so much that they may not be able to afford the premiums and be unable to drive a car. Which poses the question: Is keeping bad drivers off the road because they can’t afford the insurance a bad thing?