Ask questions before embracing technology with open arms

Kevin Marshall

November 4, 2013

As advances in vehicle and road technology become more mainstream, drivers must educate themselves before determining whether such changes are a help or a hindrance.

The insurance industry can encourage customers to use vehicle technology, like additional automation, to become better drivers, Canadian Underwriter reports.

Collision avoidance options, lane changing support and warnings and external cameras are all becoming popular features in vehicles, the article says, noting they should play an important role in insurers’ future strategies.

I'm skeptical of whether the features will actually help drivers.

“I can certainly see the advantages for insurance companies, but given who I’m representing, I’m more interested in drivers, and I don’t necessarily see the advantages, at least across the board, like I would for the insurance industry.”

Technology is not always presented realistically when advertised.

“Oftentimes, this type of technology gives insurance companies access to data they don’t have right now, regarding people’s driving habits, and they can penalize people just because they potentially drive in a way that’s deemed to be less than ideal.”

“Right now, insurance companies pretty much penalize based on accidents and driving infractions. This will potentially add a whole new level beyond that.”

My fear is that insurance companies will use the new data as a way to increase premiums, even in the absence of accidents.

“It’s about safety, and that’s a good thing, but the reality is that people still drive standard-transmission vehicles because they like having a sense of control. This is removing a sense of control from drivers, and we’re that much closer to having the car drive us rather than us drive the car.”

“Some people don’t like that. They like to be in control, so you’ve got to take the minuses with the pluses.”

Additional automated features may also cause more driver distraction.

“The driver can be that much more focused on other things like cellphones and smartphones because at that point, the car is driving itself.”

“If a person has to drive a car without distractions with the knowledge they have to get from Point A to B without relying on the machine to do the job, they’re going to be more focused and have less accidents.”

More options for drivers is a positive development, but, “we need to consider the negatives as well.”