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Why Letting Your Insurance Company Monitor How You Drive Can Be a Good Thing 567

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kim Gittleson reports at BBC that car insurance firms like Progressive are trying to convince consumers that letting them monitor their driving behavior is actually a good thing. They say that the future of car insurance is not just being able to monitor individual drivers to give them lower prices, but also to make them better drivers. 'Now that we can observe directly how people drive, we think this will change the way insurance works,' says Dave Pratt, who says that Progressive has more than a trillion seconds of driving data from 1.6 million customers. '18-year-old guys pay a lot for insurance, but some 18-year-olds are really safe drivers and they deserve a better deal.' Better big data technologies, like the telematic driving data collected by car companies (PDF) or even information gathered from social media profiles, can help augment that risk profile. 'If I'm a driver that doesn't drive that frequently, and I have a pattern that would indicate that I drive more carefully than an average person with my profile, then I may be able to save 30-40% on my car insurance, and that's pretty significant,' says Joe Reifel. For now, using big data analytics for insurers is still in the early stages. Only 2% of the U.S. car insurance market offers an insurance product based on monitoring driving, but that proportion is projected to grow to around 10-15% of the market by 2017. And other countries, like Italy and the U.K., are already using the data to analyze not just risk profiles but also to determine who is at fault in car accidents. The future, most analysts agree is create a continuous feedback loop between insurers and consumers, so that consumers will react to the big data analyses that insurers perform and change their behavior accordingly. 'Bad drivers will at some point need to improve their driving or accept [having] to pay for the real risk they represent,' says Jacques Amselem."
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Why Letting Your Insurance Company Monitor How You Drive Can Be a Good Thing

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  • Huh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:31PM (#45436265)

    > They say that the future of car insurance is not just being able to monitor individual drivers to give them lower prices

    So look, I've got this bridge I've been trying to sell...

    • Re:Huh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:46PM (#45436529) Journal

      No kidding. The whole article feels like it should come with the heading "This message brought to you by the Insurance Industry, looking out for our^H^H^Hyour interests!"

      • Re:Huh (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:56PM (#45436703) Homepage Journal
        Whew...God forbid them monitor my driving.

        I'd have to either start actually looking at the speedometer, or lose all hope of ever driving again...


        But the bigger picture is, I'm trying desperately to not give personal information to the govt or private companies....not voluntarily giving it to them!!!

        • Re:Huh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheNastyInThePasty ( 2382648 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:13PM (#45436931)

          Yes because we all know that speeding always leads to accidents. Meanwhile the oblivious woman driving while talking on her cell phone while eating a hamburger with a bunch of screaming kids in the back is considered a safe-driver by these devices because she's got cruise control on and she's going exactly the speed limit.

        • Re:Huh (Score:5, Funny)

          by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:15PM (#45436975) Journal

          Reminds me of a story. Many years ago (okay, about 20 years ago) I worked for a very small company that set up networks for point of sale systems; so small it was just my boss and me.

          One evening we were heading back to town after being onsite since about 6am. Needless to say, we were both tired, so my boss was gunning it. Then comes the flashing lights. Cop stops us, and asks my boss "Do you know why I stopped you?" My boss replies "I suppose I was speeding." The cop nods. "Yes you were, sir. And did you happen to glance at your speedometer to see how much over the speed limit you were driving?" At that point, I caught a mischievous look in my boss's eye.

          "God no!" my boss exclaimed. "Traveling that fast, I didn't dare look down at my dash!"

          Fortunately the cop had a good sense of humor, we all had a laugh, and my boss got a ticket.

    • The concept of insurance is just broken. Given the mandate to have "insurance", this really boils down to combining extortion [take your money], behavior modification [to eliminate their risk], and profit [selling your metadata].
  • by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:33PM (#45436299) who decides what is safe driving?

    • i.e. is safe driving, ponderously slow driving that may indeed reduce ones own collisions but enrages everyone else around, causing their accident rate to increase. Hopefully not.

      • Yay \o/ doubly-nested reply to myself :S

        It occurs to me that previously, there was a feedback loop in operation; that crashes are an unambiguous indicator of unsafe driving; whereas, now, will it be enough for the insurance company to say "nu-uh, your driving is unsafe" and thus break the loop, setting them free to be more imaginative when setting premiums?

        Having said that, my insurance premiums are already a work of creative and greedy minds fiction - I've been driving for twenty-five years and am way safe

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:13PM (#45436927)

        Also, if this is just a device that monitors speed, acceleration, driving distance etc it's not going to know about some of the stupidest/most dangerous driving decisions - running red lights, talking on a cell/texting/eating while driving, cutting people off, tailgating, road rage, etc. I assume it won't even know about DUIs or other seriously stupid decisions.

        Speeding or accelerating "too fast" are probably some of the *least* dangerous acts in themselves (unless they are blatantly reckless, which is rare), and only really indicative of bad driving when combined with the kinds of dumb actions a GPS device can't detect...

      • I know I tend to be the cause of the outrage on my commute to work. Why because I drive the road all day and I know how much more hazardous it is more then the others who dive it less. I have seen a bunch of car accidents on that road, from driving 10mph over the speed limit. While it seems like a straight road that you can go 70mph on, there are are spots where you can get into some real hazards.

        The the guy who passes me and gives me the middle finger, if he makes it safely further down, I usually driv

        • by adolf ( 21054 )

          I have seen a bunch of car accidents on that road, from driving 10mph over the speed limit.

          And you know that these accidents were caused by going 10mph over the posted speed limit...because you personally investigated these particular accidents using direct observation and science, or because of your biased opinion that this was the cause?

          (Some people also know that Jesus exists. Maybe Jesus caused those accidents.)

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) who decides what is safe driving?

      Studies have consistently shown that the safest drivers are around the 85th percentile by speed, so they really just need to measure how fast you go and charge more for the slower and faster drivers.

      • by Hartree ( 191324 )

        85th percentile speed drivers are often going above the posted limit. So, on most highways they would be giving a rate break to those who speed and penalizing those who obey the speed limit?

        That'll be fun to hear them argue in court during the inevitable class action suit.

      • by Valdrax ( 32670 )

        Studies have consistently shown that the safest drivers are around the 85th percentile by speed, so they really just need to measure how fast you go and charge more for the slower and faster drivers.

        Note that that's people doing at or under the 85th percentile of speed on the road. You don't start really getting dangerous slow drivers until you're several MPH under the average speed, which not the 85th percentile speed.

      • Studies have consistently shown that the safest drivers are around the 85th percentile by speed, so they really just need to measure how fast you go and charge more for the slower and faster drivers.

        So much wrong with that. You've mixed up traffic safety guidelines for setting maximum speed limits. If you think about it for a second, expecting everybody to drive at the 85th percentile speed is impossible.

    • My inclination is to say "scientific experimentation" but that's a high target.

      • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

        My inclination is to say "scientific experimentation" but that's a high target.

        I find it rather tricky to perform chemistry experiments while driving. Although driving can be highly useful for some physics experiments.

        "Watch me run over that paper bag!"

        WHUMP flopflopflopflopflopflop

        "Dang, another beer bottle!"

    • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:42PM (#45436455) Journal

      This is the problem. They've decided that safe driving is smooth driving with no sudden accelerations, decelerations or quick turns.

      You know who drives like that? All those awful oblivious drivers who everyone else is dodging. And the people doing the dodging look like maniacs.

      • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

        This is the problem. They've decided that safe driving is smooth driving with no sudden accelerations, decelerations or quick turns.

        You know who drives like that? All those awful oblivious drivers who everyone else is dodging. And the people doing the dodging look like maniacs.

        You mean this 85-year old drivers, who are just fine until a split second of confusion sends their Crown Victoria through a crowd because they hit the gas instead of the brake.

      • by Valdrax ( 32670 )

        You know who drives like that? All those awful oblivious drivers who everyone else is dodging. And the people doing the dodging look like maniacs.

        They are, typically. If you have to "dodge" in way that might make you "look" like a maniac and can't make a smooth, well-signaled transition into the next lane to go around, then you're not a good driver.

        The road isn't a racetrack, and you don't score points for being the lead.

    • by Valdrax ( 32670 )

      I guess what is comes down to ... who decides what is safe driving?

      Statistics. That's pretty much what actuaries do. Picking a policy that encourages more payouts is bad for business. The better and more refined the data results, the better the profits.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:34PM (#45436313) Homepage Journal

    Never mind they'll see you regularly drive 10-15 over the limit and think you're a risk. How about those clowns who sit in the left lane, going up hill and don't maintain speed, so everyone jockeys to get around them in the right lane(s)? You don't see that in their data stream.

    Lots more examples, which I predict this thread will include.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by i kan reed ( 749298 )

      Okay, yeah, it's annoying, but do you have objective evidence to suggest harm?

      • Yes, because someone is going to follow said driver to their destination, and then beat them to death with a crowbar.

      • Pretty much anything that disrupts the smooth flow of traffic is going to increase the risk of accidents in the surrounding area.

        • Yours is the third completely subjective reply. Do you think I've never driven, and seen these things? My concern is for whether intuition is correct.

  • A trillion seconds? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:35PM (#45436341)

    Progressive has more than a trillion seconds of driving data from 1.6 million customers.

    Using a gigantic amount of very small units tends to make the whole thing meaningless. In more meaningful terms, Progressive has about 174 hours of data per customer.

  • Assuming their telemetry system is limited and that "safe = slow = low prices". That isn't always the case!! Slow may very well = dangerous in many occurrences.
    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )

      And if that were true in any sort of statistically meaningful way, that too would come out of the data.

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

      Assuming their telemetry system is limited and that "safe = slow = low prices". That isn't always the case!! Slow may very well = dangerous in many occurrences.

      Too true. I have a pretty long commute every day and have regularly seen people putting on Make Up, phoning, having animated discussions (lots of hand gestures, sudden jerks of the vehicle back to the middle of the lane after hitting some bot dots*, the driver who suddenly doesn't want to be passed - speeding up to prevent you changing lanes, etc.

      *plastic dots aside lanes or road shoulder which are often reflective, which result in a BUDDUMP-BUDDUMP-BUDDUMP when your wheel goes over them. Common in places

    • Your argument is one against oversimplification, not data-driven insurance.

    • You're looking at it wrong.

      Slow = cheaper repairs + less hospital bills
      What else do you think they care about?

    • by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:00PM (#45436767)

      That's not how it works, actually. Progressive's Snapshot discount doesn't take speed into account at all.

      The three things they look at are:

      1) How often you drive (miles)
      2) What time of day you drive
      3) Number of hard stops

      I noticed that driving with a Snapshot for 6 months I became a lot more careful of hard stops. I gave other cars more space and drove much more defensively, even though I'm a very defensive driver already.

      I think it's safe to assume that an insurance company is interested in metrics that actually correlate well to safe driving, since their business literally depends on it. They want to give the discounts to people who are actually less likely to get into accidents.

      Progressive isn't the government. They don't want to just look like they're doing something about a problem. Their bottom line actually depends on it.

  • No recourse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:37PM (#45436347)

    Insurance rates (and prices in general) as set according to market statistics. I don't see how monitoring individual people will help those people.

    Too much potential for individual people to get screwed, with no real benefit to the public as a whole. Forget it.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:37PM (#45436355)

    then you have nothing to fear, Citizen.

    While I agree you're within your rights to let them track you for the associated discount, the premise behind this and the assumed acceptance by the privacy-less Generation is disturbing.

    • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:18PM (#45437015)

      This made me a worse driver. They had the data plotted online for you to monitor.
      So I thought it would be fun to use my car to make patterns. I would get on a stretch of highway and then lower and raise my speed in intervals with my cruise control to make sawtooth patterns. So ever 5 seconds I'd bump it up 1 mph. Then down.

  • by cowwoc2001 ( 976892 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:38PM (#45436367)

    Without analytics, low-risk 18 year olds pay a lot of money to cover high-risk 18 year olds. With analytics, low-risk 18 year olds pay less (though not nearly as low as they should be paying) and high-risk 18 year olds are uninsurable. Why? Because you're going to have to substantially raise the price on those high-risk 18 year olds now that low-risk ones aren't covering the bill.

    Now extend this logic to health care. Why is it okay to preach universal health-care and group insurance where low-risk cover the bill for high-risk, but the same isn't true for auto insurance? It's a slippery slope!

    • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:49PM (#45436567)


      You can't make high-risk populations pay the whole bill for their risk. That's not how insurance works.

      In the case of driving you could say: "well then they can drive better". But that doesn't cover all the risk, whether you're too young, too old, or have a pet/kid/alcohol/disease distracting you this morning.

    • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:51PM (#45436621)

      By identifying the high risk teenaged drivers we can target them with additional training and restrictions that will reshape their driving behavior and make them lower risk. And we could mandate that the insurance companies pay for some of that additional training.

      This would similar to health insurance companies being mandated to cover preventative health services.

    • Here's why: your driving skills may or may not vary over your life, and may go up or down. Your health is virtually guaranteed to get worse.

      The ACA says that, until you're eligible for Medicare (because, let's face it, nobody in the bottom 99% is going to be able to afford health insurance rates when you're in your 70s) you should be able to get healthcare, and to make it "fair" (arbitrary decision), the worst person can't be charged more than X times the best person. To make up for it, the entire scale of

  • No F#$KING way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bucc5062 ( 856482 ) <bucc5062 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:38PM (#45436373)

    What are the parameters that define a "good" driver. Going below the speed limit on a highway in the left lane. Being lucky when you don't look right or left making a turn onto a street? Taking way to long to brake?

    I've been driving for decades, I've put over 300,000 miles under me, but I bet those damn things would label me a bad driver for I accelerate firmly coming onto a highway, I don't brake forever coming off a highway, I tend to exceed the posted speed limit by a few miles when in the left lane and certainly when passing and i do my best to maintain situational awareness when behind the wheel.

    These devices will do nothing to bring about "safe" driving because that term is still relative to skill, conditions, and environment. Flo can take her device and shove it somewhere dark, just not in my car.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by intermodal ( 534361 )

      The thing about safe driving is, nothing these machines do can measure it. This tracking is the automotive equivalent of polygraph in terms of accuracy.

    • by bmajik ( 96670 )

      I'm inclined to agree with you. I have a fair bit of race track driving experience and have instructed other drivers at high performance driving schools.

      I personally maintain my vehicles to a high standard and operate them according to their varying capability (I own everthing from a stripped out BMW racecar to a full-size schoolbus), and I of course vary my driving significantly based on my own mental/physical limitations and the prevailing road conditions.

      But I'm not at all typical.

      Once upon a time, I wa

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I live 2 miles up an unmaintained private logging road. An accelerometer would go nuts on all the bumps and make it look like I'm driving terribly, when in reality I'm creeping over holes, ruts and rocks at 5mph, in middle of nowhere, with nothing to hit except a moose.

    Yeah... NFW am I getting this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:40PM (#45436395)

    I don;t care what you heard. I don;t care what your independent-insurance-agent-father told you. I don;t care what any insurance industry flak says. I don;t care what the industry advertisements and propaganda say.

    Insurance companies are NOT interested in reducing premiums. EVER!

    If you hear it, it's a lie. Lowered car insurance premiums is a lie.Lowered health insurance premiums(ACA) is a lie.

    If you don't know this, you are a fool!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Obviously they are interested in lowering premiums, just as long as they can maintain their profit. Lower premiums attract more customers, improve customer satisfaction.

      The way they want to reduce premiums is by reducing risk. That way they can keep profit levels the same.

  • 1 trillion seconds over 1.6 million drivers is 7.2 days per driver. ( 1000000000000 / 60 / 60 / 24 / 1600000 = 7.2 )
    Thank-you Captain Obfuscation.

  • How can this work? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:41PM (#45436421)
    How can cutting the premiums of safe drivers work in practice? Isn't the idea of insurance that the premiums of those who don't file claims is what pays for the claims of others? If they cut all the premiums of the safe drivers, where is the money for the claims of the unsafe going to come from? My guesses: they are not paying out many claims since they just drop unsafe drivers, or perhaps they will simply recoup the money by raising the premiums of any driver who files a claim. In the latter case at least, your 'insurance' is perhaps no more useful than a credit card.
    • Buried somewhere on Progressive's website is a sob story of how for every $1 in premiums the car insurance industry collects, $1.02 is paid out in claims. Yet, every company seems to have a large advertising budget to drill in that they can save you "XX or more" on car insurance.

      On the opposite end of things, there are car insurance companies that solely insure high risk drivers in some states. A friend of mine was dropped by a company because he was "too safe a driver". Yes, that was the official reason. N

  • Huge discounts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:42PM (#45436457) Journal
    we think this will change the way insurance works,

    So if they find I'm a good driver, never getting in any accidents, maintain a good distance between myself and other vehicles, don't get any tickets, they'll give me a huge discount, at least 50%, from what I'm paying now, right?


    Insurance company: We're sorry, we don't operate that way.
    Me: Yeah, thought so. Just another scam to hand over my money to a private company.
  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:45PM (#45436497)
    The health insurance industry did this about twenty years ago (ish. I don't remember exactly). Instead of binning people by risk and associated cost, they starting looking at people on an individual level and simply denying those who might not be profitable. It sounds good when you're angry at irresponsible drivers, and it certainly makes money for the insurance companies, but it doesn't work when you're dependent on cars on driving to make your infrastructure work and when insurance is an integral part of that (required in many states).
    • There's a big difference between the two industries. In one, a good chunk of the factors that influence your insurability are out of your control. In the other, they are almost entirely within your control. If I'm told that it's going to cost an arm and a leg to insure my car, I can improve my driving skills appropriately by working at them privately. If I'm told that it's going to cost an arm and a leg to insure me because my health is poor...what's my recourse? Get better first? That'd be a nice catch-22.

  • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:46PM (#45436509) Homepage
    But what makes me a "safer driver" I've been in two accidents in my 26 years of driving. Rear ended once at a traffic light, and the other one the guy spun out across four lanes of traffic to slam into my truck, after I'd had time to come to a complete stop. And I haven't had a speeding ticket in over a decade. But I still have a lead foot, and tend to drive above the speed limit. Would I qualify as a "Safe Driver"? I have a car chip and monitor my vehicle for performance and maintenance issues, it lets me see the kind of data they would collect: average speed, highest speeds, acceleration profiles (rabbit starts, something I try to resist for fuel efficiency reasons but often realize I've done after the fact) hard breaking events etc. . .

    Okay maybe for an 18 year old male to maybe get a lower rate. But otherwise, hell no.

    My safe driving status should be based on what really makes for safe driving, and they haven't yet made the ODBII compliant device that monitors how alert and aware I am of the traffic around me. Of how often I check my mirrors and blind spots, of how I look ahead to anticipate problematic intersections or road conditions. Until they can monitor those, they can't really monitor safety. Speed is not a safety factor. Hard breaking may be, but it's still missing a ton of variables that explain the cause. Any insurance co that asks for this is losing a customer. I have a monitor on my vehicle already, but for my personal use and only my use.
  • Offer lower rates? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:49PM (#45436565) Journal

    When ever someone offers you the opportunity for lower rates by providing more information, what they are really offering is the opportunity to either eliminate you from their liability pool or raise your rates. Insurance is, in an efficient market like auto insurance, a zero sum game. Those whose rates get lowered must be offset by those with higher rates unless the overall claims volume is reduced.

    Bad drivers already are in a feedback loop from their insurers. Anyone who has received a moving violation or been in an accident feels the pressure of insurance premiums. It's the only reason I get concerned about a speeding ticket - $150 for getting caught doing 12-15mph over on the freeway is annoying; having my premiums go up $400/year for 2 or more years is far more punishment than the courts are doling out.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:51PM (#45436601)

    So basically, even though many studies have shown speeding alone is mostly not a cause of car accidents, as long I stick below the speed limit, the insurance companies will reward me for being a good driver, regardless of how many people I cut off, how many lanes I swerve between lanes, how little I use my turn signals, or how much I update my facebook status and generally piss off other people while driving, not to mention how drunk or high I am while doing so.
    Great idea there guys.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:51PM (#45436605)

    and the devices are temporary.

    The wife and I currently use Progressive and we did their little driver-monitoring program a year or so ago. Our vehicles were only monitored for a couple months.

    We ended up saving some money (Progressive was already lower than all the competition we had scoped out, but the program made it even a little lower).

    Of note were the reasons given:

    1. The devices were able to confirm our relatively low miles-driven.
    2. The devices found that we drove during "safe" times of day (if I remember right, it's the wee hours of the morning that are the "unsafe" times, probably due to increased rates of drunk driving).
    3. My wife saved a little more than me, due to my slightly higher incidences of "rapid stops." Apparently I should've punched through those yellow lights to save time AND money.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:53PM (#45436645)

    Insurance isn't supposed to be about profit, it's supposed to be about cost-management. Say that for every 1,500 people, one of them will be in a car accident each year. The average cost of a car accident in terms of legal costs, replacement, etc., we'll say is $50,000 -- or about $136.98 per day. Let's add a 15% administrative cost -- that is, the cost to hire people and collect the funds. That's $157.53 -- Now divide that by 1500 and multiply it by 30.5 (the average length of a month) you get $3.20 per month per person.

    And that's how insurance is supposed to work: Distribute the costs so that the one poor bastard that would otherwise be broke, bankrupt, and his life ruined, avoids that fate because the risk is distributed over a large number of people. The administrators take home a reasonable profit -- that is their salaries plus maybe 5%, which is about average profit for a successful business, and you call it a day. Then you only need to manage the edge cases -- that 1% that gets in lots of accidents for no apparent reason. And those should be pretty easy to detect... since, you know, they're getting in accidents a lot. Set a threshold beyond which it's statistically improbable it could be random chance just kicking one guy's ass, and you're all set.

    There is no need for any of the rest of this. The reason they put it in, is the same reason our health care went to absolute and total shit: They're determining risk based on the individual, not the group, and maximizing profit. That is, insurance today has become about avoiding risk, not absorbing it.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      >> Insurance isn't supposed to be about profit, it's supposed to be about cost-management.

      Except you're missing the fundamental point that insurance companies are for-profit businesses rather than charities.

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:11PM (#45436907)
    "You now have one point remaining on your license."
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:13PM (#45436937) Homepage

    Someone I know has a Progressive monitor plugged into her ODB-II port. It beeps to "berate" her when she is driving "badly".

    Apparently slowing down to stop at a red light is driving badly.

    Also, slowing down quickly to avoid an accident is also driving badly.

    She wants to throw it out the window, because the only time it ever "complains" is when she either stopped at a red light, or avoided crashing into someone who cut her off.

    If insurance companies want drivers to use these things, they really have to come up with a better definition for "bad driving" than "slowing down quickly".

  • by ElementOfDestruction ( 2024308 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:19PM (#45437029)
    OK. Enough of the FUD; I use Progressive and I got the 30% discount.

    I drive, on average, 10-15 MPH above the posted speed limit. But I leave - minimally - 2 seconds of stopping time in front of me. I'm more likely to merge going 65mph in a 60mph than 55mph, unlike many other drivers - it vastly helps traffic flow when you merge going at the same ambient speed as other drivers. Definitely not a leadfoot. Just observant.

    They track when you drive, and number of "hard" stops. I had the beeper go off ONCE - when I was cut off by a driver. People will have sudden stops - deer crossings, other drivers. One or two isn't an automatic penalty. I was with another driver, and he had THREE "beeps" while stopping. Reason is he tailgates during normal driving. If the car in front slams on the brakes, he does too. It just measures the delta D over delta T, and if the ratio is too large, it determines it was a "hard stop". Like I said - you are allotted a certain number of these based on normal driving procedures.

    The other part of the discount comes from when you drive - I had a second job during second shift, and drove back during the "cautionary" zone more nearly 3 times a week. I still got full discount.

    Before everybody goes SCREAMING about how they're getting reamed a new asshole because Insurance Company X will know if they've gone 1.5 mph over the posted limit, settle the fuck down.

    How about this? What about a sensor in front of the car, measuring current speed and distance to car in front? If you spend 0-5% of the time within 2 second stopping distance, you get 0 discount; all the way up to 90-100% of the time getting a (max) discount. That's about what the Snapshot was measuring. Jesus Christ the sky is falling!!!

    Relevant link from Progressive []
  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:27PM (#45439343)

    So, I'm cruising along the highway at normal/safe/legal highway speeds. There's an on-ramp just ahead, with a car about to merge onto the high-speed roadway.

    The merging driver should be going the full speed of the roadway. But he isn't. Because he's not actually a good driver. Instead, he's still travelling at on-ramp speed -- 20% below the highway limit, not at merging speed.

    The safest thing for me to do is to accellerate much faster to get past the merge area before he gets to it. I have the room in-front of me, not behind me. The surface is safe, the visibility is safe, my car is safe and capable, and I'm very alert. So I accellerate to 30% over the limit for the 4 seconds it'll take.

    You show me the insurance company that notices my excessive speeding as the safe driver and the slower merging car as the unsafe driver. I sped, to a speed that on paper is dangerous, illegal, and inappropriate. I just avoided a potential high-speed collision -- likely between the merging car and a third car behind me who couldn't see anything.

    Had police unwittingly pulled me over, I'd have appeared before a judge, plead "guilty with a reason", and the judge would have agreed. Meanwhile, my insurance company would have done what, exactly? Would they have even asked me why I was speeding?

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"