Do Technology Innovations Help or Hurt Driving Habits?

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Technology is supposed to make our world easier to navigate. Computers have helped communication during the pandemic, and video games and streaming television have helped ease stress during these tough times. 

But how has technology improved the driving experience? We’re not just talking about comfort and relaxation (although automatic heated seats are pretty fancy and helpful, right?) How has technology made folks better drivers? And how have companies worked to save lives using new technology? 

Car manufacturers have tried to add more cameras and parking assist devices to bring down the number of accidents that happen in parking lots. Insurance companies have joined the effort by creating devices and apps that monitor your driving habits. They give you discounts on your policy if you have driven safer. 

One such monitoring app is Snapshot from Progressive. How does Progressive Snapshot work? This is one of the most popular devices insurance companies use to monitor people’s driving. Does it actually improve the habits of those who sign up for the program? Or is it something that starts strong and dies down after the novelty of signing up wears off?

We will discuss how these technology innovations mix with creative marketing to encourage safe driving in ways that were impossible to implement in the past. 

How does Snapshot reward you?

Snapshot by Progressive and other similar programs from other insurance companies are pretty simple. You simply put a device in your car or download an app from your insurance company, and it will track your driving habits and maybe reward you for those good habits. 

What types of good driving are we talking about here? The main areas to look out for are the time of day that you decide to drive, the amount that you drive, and the number of harsh brakes that you attempt while on the road. 

Driving at night has always been considered a larger risk than daytime driving. It is harder to see, and during the winter months, there may be snow and rush-hour traffic in the dark. Trying to limit most of your driving to daytime hours will help you get potential discounts on your policy. 

Sudden braking may be an indication of distracted driving, so you are not going to be doing yourself any favors by braking quickly instead of easing into a stop. Try to limit these movements regardless of whether there is a device watching you or not. 

And this is where the main benefit of these technologies comes into place. The financial benefits are obviously going to be relevant to people who are on the lower end of the income scale.

An extra $30 in your bank account at the end of the month adds up to $360 annually saved, which will help those struggling with money. 

For others who are better off, this extra 10% off your policy may be small change that isn’t worth the effort. The ideal scenario is that money motivates you to do something much more important: Drive safe and save lives in your family and around the world. 

As for the financial aspect of the program, Progressive claims you can save up to 30% on your insurance by getting an A grade on Snapshot. The reality is that many users online on review boards say that it is nearly impossible to get this type of discount. But it may have gotten drivers to become more aware of their bad habits in the process of trying to save some money. 

What age group does this technology target?

Young people are concerned with a million things at once. Their heads are spinning with new responsibilities. They want to move out of their parents’ grasp. They want to build a house

Another topic of importance for them is how to find a fulfilling career. They also typically don’t have very much money. Finding the smallest ways to save a little in their wallet can be a large motivator to pursue something. 

This is why safe driving technology and apps in this space are perfect for the young person who drives around a lot and wants to be rewarded for safe driving. Gen Z mothers have to go to work, raise a family, and protect their loved ones on the road in the midst of a pandemic. 

They have grown up around smartphones and won’t resist the usefulness of an app on their phone that tracks their driving habits. One of the main barriers to this technology is that older generations often have a harder time grasping the purpose and usefulness of these items. Many want to do things the same way and are resistant to change, no matter how helpful it could be. 

How Technology in Cars Has Improved Safety

The responsibility for good driving needs to go beyond the driver, though. Car companies should always be looking for ways to improve the structure and endurance of the materials in their vehicles. This will lead to lower mortality rates when a crash does occur. How have they been doing this, if at all?

There are obvious evolutions in airbag and seat belt technology, along with the laws that accompany them. Seat belts were first legally required in cars in the 1960s, but you couldn’t get a ticket for driving without one until the 1980s in most states. Now, it seems crazy to not have these safety measures be required. 

But what about some of the more advanced technology that has sprung up in recent memory?

Many cars now have better headlights that can see in hard-to-reach places. They have sensors that know when the vehicle is leaving its lane and automatically correct the problem. They also have autonomous emergency braking that will stop the car for you when an accident is imminent. 

All these things have done well for mortality rates in the U.S., with the number of fatal accidents decreasing per 100,000 drivers steadily since the 1970s. But that doesn’t mean driving habits have gotten better or apps like Snapshot have improved them.

There is no way to know whether the detection devices that encourage safer driving actually do any good in the long run. We can at least trust that they make customers think about how they drive. They may get frustrated with the lack of savings that were advertised, but they should have become more intelligent and aware drivers because of them.

What do you think?

Written by Shawn Laib

Shawn Laib writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, He wants to help drivers and their families stay safe by educating them on new technologies in the insurance industry.

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