If you’ve been following technological trends, then you might have heard of something called ‘telematics’. Also known as ‘black box’ insurance, this technology is helping to change motoring behaviour to extend the lifespan of your vehicle and reduce the likelihood of an accident.
How does telematics work, then?
With the help of a special GPS device, a telematics system will track your vehicle’s movements with pinpoint accuracy. It’ll measure things like how long the engine is running for, how jerky your acceleration is, how late you’re braking, and whether you’re cornering well. All of this adds up to a comprehensive picture of your driving competence. You’re then presented with feedback via your smartphone or tablet.
What’s the point?
You might think that there could be nothing more irritating than having a robot examiner strapped to the underside of your van – particularly if you already have years of experience to draw upon. And it’s true that the system confers the greatest benefit to new drivers who’ve not yet grasped what’s involved. But that’s not to say that the technology can’t benefit the rest of us: if you’re clocking up thousands of miles each week, then even a marginal improvement to your braking behaviour could save you a significant sum in fuel and maintenance over the lifetime of the vehicle.
What’s more, telematics devices also confer a security benefit, as they also function as GPS trackers. Should your van be stolen, they’ll make it possible to track it down during those crucial first few hours.
How do I get on board?
Insurance companies, naturally, are eager to place informed bets on good drivers – the sort who aren’t likely to wrap their vehicles around a lamp-post. By fitting a black-box device, you’ll demonstrate to them that you’re a safe pair of hands, and they’ll reward you by lowering your bills. In fact, many will fit the device for you. It’s a tiny black box, usually only a little bit larger than a credit card.
Black boxes are built to be installed somewhere out-of-the-way. That makes it more difficult for thieves to locate and tamper with them. Since every vehicle is different, some will demand that the black box be installed in different places. You might have yours beneath the dashboard, or crammed within the engine compartment. This makes life more difficult for would-be thieves, as they’ll have only a limited time in which to locate and remove the box before police cars start to pull onto the drive.
For some of us, the idea of installing a tracker onto the van might seem a little too close to science fiction. But those who’ve been willing to embrace the new technology have already indicated that the benefits are worthwhile. Given that this is one of the few technologies that pays for itself in advance, it’s one worth investigating, particularly if you drive for a living.