Autonomous vehicles will bring the biggest economic shift in a generation. However, the NDP included nothing in the 2019 BC budget despite a $374 million surplus. No attempt has been made to develop manufacturing opportunities or create more options for BC drivers.
The current government has not considered the effect autonomous vehicles will have on the labour market or road safety. ICBC, the government auto insurer, has implemented no clear plan for self-driving vehicles.
Ontario, on the other hand, is far ahead and has already allowed
autonomous vehicle testing under a government endorsed program since 2016. Starting January 1, 2019, Ontario’s Automated Vehicle Pilot Program was expanded to include:
- Automated vehicles with level 3 technology. These are now eligible and available for public purchase in Canada can be driven on Ontario roads.
- Pilot participants can test driverless vehicles on Ontario’s roads.
- Platooning technology, in which large trucks are equipped with support systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communications that enable them to travel closely together as a group, are allowed.
The British Columbia government depends on the auto insurance money it receives from auto monopoly ICBC. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has no incentive to promote self-driving vehicles.
Ontario does not have a government monopoly for auto insurance. Ontario, unlike BC, has a competitive private auto insurance system. This is likely one of the reasons the BC has failed to pursue opportunities in autonomous vehicle technology.
Automation in cars has already lead to a significant reduction in traffic accident injuries. This will result in much less auto injury claims. However, BC is unlikely to benefit from the changing technology if the government does not allow self-driving vehicles.