What I've Learned from a Year of Driver Monitoring
I've been driving with eDriving's Mentor app for about a year now and know that it has made improvements in my skills. I haven't cracked the top 10% barrier yet, but I'm still trying! The secret to having a high score appears to be trying to anticipate and plan for what is happening around you as you drive.
Speed is the simplest of the driving tasks to follow but does present its challenges. The riskiest of them is the tendency for other drivers to crowd your back bumper. Why some drivers feel the need to do this on multi laned highways is a bit of a mystery to me.
I wonder if telematics can use the automatic emergency braking system on newer cars to monitor this?
Sudden braking incidents can be prevented by maintaining an appropriate following distance and watching the status of traffic lights as you approach the intersection.
Is it a stale green light? Preparing for the stop doesn't cost you anything as you are going to have to stop anyway. In fact, it can save you money in the long run by reducing wear on the brakes.
Drivers who fill in your front safety margin and then brake to get ready for a turn or make another lane change mean keeping an eye out behind and beside you as you drive. It would be helpful if they thought about signaling their intentions but the majority seem to signal as they move.
Heavy acceleration has not caused any black marks for me since the first one. I'm never in a hurry to be the first vehicle into an intersection after the lights change and I have not had to take evasive action to prevent a collision, yet.
Smooth lane changes are an easy score. Plan ahead, mirror, signal, shoulder check and change. Simple. Again, I've never had to make a sudden move because of the actions of another driver, yet.
The last behaviour that the app watches for are sharp turns. Experience, advisory signs and familiarity with your vehicle are a great help with this. When in doubt, too slow is better than too fast.
I've mentioned a potential reduction in vehicle maintenance already but there is another way the app helps pay it's way. Driving for a good score is also driving for economy. Fewer dollars spent on fuel are healthy for both your wallet and the environment.
There is no doubt in my mind that ICBC will eventually be using driver telematics to set insurance rates. Practice now will make it easier to save money on my insurance bill in the future.
Mentor also supplies me with video training tailored to my driving habits. I'm a bit behind in watching the videos, but I've both learned something new and reinforced prior knowledge with them.
Over all, I'm pleased that I have taken the time to use the app. I think that it has made me a better and hopefully safer driver.
So let's get some understanding here. Does this mean that the App doesn't actually have any awareness of surrounding vehicles and their behaviour, until it happens? Yet it's still going to make 'judgments' about how your vehicle is being driven?
In other words, sharp changes in velocity and/or direction will trigger the App. It's limited information input (basically a combination of Google Maps or similar, to track speed limits in effect, along with physical information about whether the vehicle is being driven softly or harshly) is all it's got to go on. Insuffient data.
Yes, but we don't need the modern age of electronics to tell us this stuff! Heck we were teaching the benefits of defensive driving forty years ago, and anybody with any intelligence or sensitivity toward their wallet, their load, their passengers, already knows how to drive smoothly; and will endeavour to apply this in their every day driving.
But electronic monitoring by the authorities? I wouldn't trust them an inch with any information, quite frankly. They already have more than enough of the data.
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
It's a cheap (or free tool) to nudge people who don't drive (or think) like you do. It does have benefits but they are limited as you correctly point out.
ICBC uses a dongle plugged onto the OBD port in addition to the cell phone if I understand correctly. That may be able to montor blind spot warning or automatic emergency braking if the vehicle is equipped with it.
You get what you pay for and only benefit from what you use correctly.
As for the "Big Brother" aspect, well, those discussions are not really the aim of this site, so I'll leave that part up to you.
BTW, I look at it as neither half full or half empty. Someone chose the wrong size of glass.
Last year I participated in ICBC trial ("Road Safety Technology Pilot Project") using a device they lent me which was put at the bottom of the windshield. I got a high score but was disappointed with the device because it gave me negative points unfairly and didn't give me negative points when it should have.
When a red traffic light turns green, I wait 2 seconds before moving (as previously trained to do) while double checking for motor vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists about to run a light, turn into my vehicle, run or ride across my path, including from behind a "billboard vehicles"s etc. After that I smoothly accelerate up to the speed limit or whatever lesser speed the conditions allow.
However the device frequently judged that the smooth and moderate acceleration of my electric car was too high.
On the other hand, if I drove above the speed limit no penalty points were awarded.
Driving through an amber light when it would have safe to stop was rewarded rather than penalized. Most of the time I decelerate extremely slowly, which was OK by the device, but having to decelerate slightly more quickly because the light went amber before the point of no return produced negative points.
I am sure that the device would not have picked up on a failure to slow or yield for someone stepping onto a crosswalk, but would have give negative points if I to had brake a little harder than usual to avoid a fast-moving cyclist coming out from a hidden place onto a crosswalk.
In future the judgement of such devices may improve over time, but it will still be flawed.
This suggests that drivers must be allowed to challenge insurance premiums that are based on automatic monitoring devices and computer software. We can go to court to challenge an incorrect ticket issued by a person or machine. By the same token if monitoring devices become the norm, we must be allowed to appeal unfair scores that result in higher insurance rates.
I Agree With You
I say the same as you “use the right lane and relax” and also watch what the truck drivers do playing the lights and saving energy along with the saving of shifting gears.
After 69 years of driving I have never touched another vehicle or person. Your commentary is right on the button!!