InTrans / Aug 04, 2017

The not-so-distant future of car safety

Go! Magazine

Toy busposted on August 4, 2017

What do windshield wipers, turn signals, seat belts, and airbags all have in common? They all work together to keep you safe while driving, of course!

Today, we can hardly imagine a world without these standardized safety measures. But in the future, what are the new standards in vehicle safety going to be?

Well, come with us to 2020, where it will be all telematics this and car insurance that. Don’t see how they relate? Well, let us give you a hint: It involves increased vehicle protection through comprehensive vehicle tracking and remote vehicle shutdown technology.

Comprehensive vehicle tracking

Soon insurance companies could offer reduced rates to drivers who agree to have their driving behavior tracked. And when we say “behavior,” we mean things like how fast you drive, hard you brake, or how sharply you turn corners. In exchange, insurance companies would give a discount on “premiums” or the cost of insurance coverage.

The tracking system would work via a small device installed in your car. Although the idea of having your behavior tracked may seem alarming, it’s just another way people are trading their personal information in exchange for free services, like they do when using social media platforms like Facebook. Progressive—one of the largest providers of tracking-based insurance services—has signed over two million customers to its tracking-based program since 2008.

Driving the roads
Driving the roads. Photo from Pexels.

Progressive has analyzed billions of miles of driving data and found that comprehensive vehicle tracking might be the best option for tracking-based services. They found that “key driving behaviors” like miles driven, braking, and time-of-day driving, carry more “predictive power” as to how the driver will perform. Data related to these behaviors was found to be more predictive than traditional factors like a driver’s age and gender. Progressive customers can receive an average discount on their premiums of about 10 or 15 percent if they agree to be tracked.

Tracking-based insurance policies can be a big advantage to those looking to save a couple extra bucks and don’t mind having their behavior tracked. By 2020, it’s forecasted that this concept will be more common and other insurance companies will probably adapt it too. It’s even predicted that in the future, customers could be charged more for insurance premiums if they don’t agree to some sort of “know-your-customer” tracking system. It may even be done through mobiles apps that would be easier for customers to access.

Remote vehicle shutdown

Remote vehicle shutdown already exists today, but there is still more room for improvement by 2020. OnStar Corporation, a subsidiary of General Motors, provides driver services like communication services, hands-free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and—you guessed it—remote diagnostics systems. Operating in the US, Canada, China, Mexico, Europe, Brazil, and Argentina, Onstar is already taking advantage of futuristic driving technology.

In recent years, OnStar has located and shut down hundreds of stolen cars for its customers, alleviating the need for a dramatic police chase or a tireless search for a stolen car. In 2014, remote vehicle shutdown systems were installed on about twi million vehicles in the United States. Not only can remote vehicle shutdowns end the drama of a stolen car, but they’ve also proved to be instrumental to credit unions and banks to provide an extra layer of security to lenders and borrowers. By 2020, it’s forecasted that these systems will “enter the social consciousness.”

Fast moving cars
Fast moving cars. Photo from Pexels.

In case of a stolen vehicle, OnStar remote shutdown systems work by informing the driver of the stolen car that the engine is about to stop. The brakes and power steering still function, so the driver can safely bring the vehicle to a complete stop. However, the police can only ask for a shutdown if the vehicle is in sight. That said, it’s still proven to be a useful system to OnStar customers. Remote vehicle shutdown for lenders and borrowers, however, due to a late payment or missed bill, have proved to be problematic.

Tech of the future

In this Age of Technology, there seems to be a new trend: tracking consumer behavior in exchange for free or discounted services. For many, this leads to a concern over privacy. When seat belts and stop lights were invented, they didn’t threaten consumer privacy, but they did lead to some pretty big improvements in driving safety. As far as the safety inventions to come in the next few years, will the risk be worth the reward?


Related links

History of car safety inventions:

By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer

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