The Esurance insurance company has just rolled a new program that claims to prevent teens from texting while driving, as well as providing parents feedback about their kids' driving behavior.
The Esurance DriveSafe™ Program may sound very Big Brother-ish, but in this case, it might be warranted, as the benefits include cell phone-limiting functionality, risky driving Behavior notifications and more. Any self-respecting motorcycle rider knows you gotta watch out for the other guy, and the prevalence of texting when driving on US roads has grown dangerously in the last few years.
According to the NHTSA, every day in 2012 nine people were killed and another 1,153 people were injured in car crashes involving a distracted driver. 21 percent of the distracted drivers aged 15 to 19 years involved in fatal crashes were distracted by their cell phones.
Because texting and driving requires a combination of visual, manual, and cognitive attention, it is particularly dangerous for teenage drivers (even though several recent studies have concluded that adults are equally to blame for being guilty of texting). Esurance has introduced technology that can be part of the solution, and the company is also spearheading a program that lets parents know how their teen is doing on the road so they can promote more responsible driving habits. Hard to argue with that.
Esurance says that when parents enroll in DriveSafe, they'll receive a small telematics device to install in the onboard diagnostics port of the teen-piloted vehicle, along with instructions on how to download the DriveSafe app onto their teen's smartphone (most iOS, Android, and Windows phones). Using Bluetooth and cellular technology, the device and app together help monitor the teen's driving habits and limit texting, web browsing, and cell phone use when the car is in motion (though iPhones don't restrict phone functionality. What's up with that, Apple?).
Once the device is activated, parents can go to www.esurance.com/drive-safe to access a personalized DriveSafe site, where they can set preferences, opt in for customized alerts about unsafe driving behaviors (speeding, etc), and review trip details. Parents can also compare their teen's driving habits to those of the average Esurance DriveSafe teen driver.
Esurance President and CEO Gary Tolman adds, "This innovative device can help stop teens from texting while driving and make parents and their teens aware of, and hopefully reduce, risky driving behavior that can cause accidents."
Program Availability and Features
DriveSafe is available free to all Esurance customers with at least one teen listed on their policy. With Esurance DriveSafe:
- Phone use behind the wheel can be limited to curb texting, surfing, checking Facebook, or reading email
- Get alerts when the teen does something risky behind the wheel, like speeding
- See trip summaries of teen's driving, including times and behavior
- Create a list of phone numbers so that your teen can always make and receive calls from them or any other emergency contact
- Know that 911 is always available
Data Usage and Privacy
The Esurance DriveSafe device tracks data such as phone usage, the car's speed, acceleration, and any instances of hard braking, as well as mileage, location, and time of each trip. If it sounds a bit sinister, Esurance says that personalized information provided is for personal use only and will never be shared. Additionally, Esurance will not use the program to determine car insurance premiums. Customer rates will never go up or change based on information collected through the program. Let's hope.