Ensuring The Accessibility of Telematics Will Help To Make Our Roads a Safer and Smarter Place

Sam Chapman - October 12th, 2018

As a telematics service provider, we can clearly see the benefits that telematics technology, combined with data science and behavioural change techniques derived from social sciences, can have on unsafe driving behaviours and the number of accidents occurring on our roads.

And there’s never been a better time to address the complex issues surrounding road safety; the UK government recently released their 2017 annual report on the Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain over the last 12 months and it showed that we are still seeing high numbers of accidents and deaths taking place on the UK’s roads every year.

The good news from this report is that it found that the total number of casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents over the last 12 months fell by 6% to 170,993. However, amongst that number were a total of 1,793 road deaths throughout Great Britain, a similar level to that seen in 2012. There was a slight decrease in the total number of car occupants who were killed, down 4% from 816 in 2016.

At The Floow, we welcome these falls in the number of casualties and deaths on the road, particularly the number of casualties which is currently at its lowest level on record. Whilst any reduction in accidents is very good news when considered from the perspective of human lives they impact, these figures remain depressingly high, particularly when you consider how many safety features are standard in most passenger vehicles. So what can be done about it?

Addressing the complex and overlapping issues that contribute to Britain’s road safety challenges is a difficult task. It requires a thorough understanding and careful planning at the macro level concerning transport policy at the broadest levels. And at the micro level we need consideration around road planning for all types of road user and a granular understanding of the motivations of each individual – be they pedestrians, passengers, fleet drivers or individual car owners.

At The Floow, our focus is on amplifying, analysing and using the insights we gather from telematics data to contribute to these macro and micro-level challenges to help us contribute to road safety. However, the penetration of telematics technology across the UK and many other markets is still relatively low as insurers, drivers and fleets have been somewhat slow to adopt the technology and in some cases, understand the benefits it brings to areas such as driver safety. This is particularly the case as motor traffic levels continue to rise – they increased by 1.1% from 2016 to 2017 and as overall car usage increases, road and driver safety is an issue which continues to be ever-present.

The tools provided by telematics technology to collect driver behaviour data alongside the application of data and social sciences to analyse data and provide further context and insight into a driver’s behaviour on the road offers a number of benefits.

For insurers, it provides them with the tools to further understand the risk profiles of their policyholders by delivering insights which relate specifically to a driver’s behaviour behind the wheel. Whereas, for drivers, it gives them the opportunity to understand their behaviour and engage with the insights to make positive improvements which they can stick to in the long term, improving their risk profile, potentially lowering their car insurance costs and making the roads a safer place for everyone.

The clear benefits that telematics offers has been our driving force as we aim to make this technology as accessible as possible. This is why we have focused on areas including our work on using the smartphone as a powerful, cost-effective mobility sensor to collect driving data, as smartphones are more cost-effective and accessible than some other forms of telematics data collection.

This work not only led to recognition, by industry body Ptolemus who awarded us with 1st place in its UBI Supplier Rankings for European Telematics Service Providers in 2016 and consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan who awarded us with their Technology Innovation in the European Usage-based Insurance Industry award in 2018, but it was also the catalyst for developing a telematics platform which had the smartphone right at its core.

That platform turned into FloowDrive, which was released to the market earlier this year, and it was developed to remove the time, cost and complexity barriers to telematics which have held some insurance providers back from investing in this technology in the past. We have also recently released FloowFleet, our commercial fleet insurance solution, which is aimed at small fleets up to 25 vehicles.

FloowFleet has been designed to provide commercial lines insurers with the tools to further understand the risk of the fleets they insure and for fleet managers they will be able to view driver behaviour insights which will allow them to understand how their vehicles are being driven in order to reduce running costs and achieve cost-effective insurance.

To truly deliver on our mission to make mobility safer and smarter for everyone, we will continue to utilise the power of new technologies, innovate in areas including data science and design as well as harnessing social science techniques to understand driver behaviour, all while ensuring that telematics is accessible as possible.

While for the UK, which has long had a globally recognised strength in road safety, it must continue to embrace new technologies in support of maintaining its recognised position. This is particularly vital now given that levels of recorded deaths have changed little since 2012 and as various countries and regions, including the UK, have embraced “vision zero” which targets the removal of all road deaths across the world.

At The Floow, we will continue to work hard to ensure that roads in the UK and across the world are made safer and smarter for the benefit of everyone.

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