Guest Post by Carol Cade:
Advances in communications technology have rapidly accelerated changes in society, and there have been many unexpected turns. One of the newest applications is safe driver monitoring. The basic systems consists of a visual recording device capable of communicating to the driver, an external monitor, or both.
There are several systems now on the market that provide real-time feedback to drivers on their habits, but they all differ in specifics–largely depending on the intended use. Some tie directly into the car’s computer system, while others use wireless technology and GPS tracking to provide reports. The following applications are expected to hasten growth of safe driver monitoring in the coming years.
Enhancing Teen Driver Education
Every teen is expected to pass a driver education course before receiving an initial license. Parents concerned with the high cost of insuring teen drivers often require further defensive driving classes. DriveCam and other companies are marketing technology that provides continuing education every time your teen gets behind the wheel.
The basic system consists of a forward- and rear-facing camera to monitor driving and in-car behavior, such as texting or looking at friends instead of the road. The units are triggered by swerving, exceeding pre-set speed limits, and any sudden movements, and the end result is a report produced for parents. Units linked into the car’s computer can be programmed by parents to cap speed, radio volume, and other variables.
Self-policing Company Fleets
Companies that maintain commercial fleets have many of the same concerns as parents. This can be seen with the bumper stickers allowing anyone to report a driver’s habits to a toll-free hotline. Companies now have another option that may prove to be more effective. Commercial drivers are more likely to play it safe when their employer receives regular driving reports and uses these in retention and raise decisions.
Sliding Insurance Rates for Safe and Minimal Driving
Some insurance companies have already begun offering monitoring technology to their customers with teen drivers. So far it is only being used to enhance teen safety through self- and parent-monitoring of behavior. This is likely to change as the technology becomes more accepted.
Just as mileage can be used by insurers to calculate risk and provide discounts, safe driving can also work to the advantage of drivers. Both hinge on the insurer’s ability to actively monitor their customers. Adoption of the technology raises several questions. How closely will insurers be observing individual drivers? Will it be used primarily to adjudicate responsibility for accidents? Could it be used by insurers to pre-set controls?
Lingering Consumer Resistance
The idea of being watched by any outside party is the major drawback to full implementation of the technology. Manufacturers and insurers have so far tried to sell the technology as a self-monitor versus spy-cam for this very reason. Researchers have found that drivers with a device providing immediate feedback on their habits actually drive more safely. Acceptance of the technology will hinge on consumers seeing this benefit and manufacturers avoiding perceptions of the technology as a spying device.
Safe driving monitors are one of the latest applications in the communications revolution. Consumer demand has so far been limited to teen and commercial drivers, but it is likely to expand with more insurers offering voluntary programs and safe-driving discounts.
Carol Cade blogs about how safe driving practices decrease car insurance costs. If you are looking for affordable car insurance, Carol recommends trying www.carinsurance.org.uk.
image via Farm4 on Flickr