April 16, 2010 by Canadian Underwriter
Manitoba is proposing changes to its Highway Traffic Act that would make it an offence to tamper with anti-theft immobilizers and airbag systems.
The maximum fine for those in violation of the proposed legislation would be $5,000.
“We believe it is important to bolster public safety and consumer protection with this proposed legislation and are backing the offences up with significant penalties,” said Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton. “Vehicle thefts represent a danger to drivers as well as a significant cost to Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) and ultimately the Province of Manitoba.”
The amendments address concerns, including those expressed by MPI, that people have tampered with electronic immobilizers during installation of remote starters.
“It is cheaper and easier to disengage the immobilizer when installing a remote starter than to work around it, making the anti-theft devices useless and vehicles more vulnerable to theft,” the government’s transportation ministry says in a press release. “In other cases, immobilizers have been disabled or completely removed during the course of service and repairs.”
The proposed legislation would also make it an offence for anyone to tamper with or remove a vehicle’s airbag system.
Industry representatives have identified an issue with people removing airbag systems from vehicles to re-sell them. The proposals would require that all vehicles with manufacture-installed airbags remain equipped with airbags.
Immobilizers are a key part of MPI’s auto-theft strategy, which supports the cost of installing electronic immobilizers on at-risk vehicles.
The province says immobilizer use has resulted in auto theft decreasing in Manitoba by more than 60% per cent since 2004.
The strategy was first launched in 2005. Last year, auto theft dropped nearly 30% and MPI says this was due in large part to the immobilizer program.
“The resulting drop in auto theft has saved MPI and its ratepayers about $60 million in theft claims costs since 2005,” said Marilyn McLaren, president and CEO of MPI. “To continue to keep these rates down, we feel it is paramount to ensure these immobilizers remain functioning and intact in vehicles.”