Our guest blogger - JBurford - takes a look at how modern technology is improving road safety
In our feature on Highways England’s Stay Back and Stay Safe road safety campaign, the organisation urged drivers to avoid being a space invader and allow at least a two-second gap between them and vehicles in front. There are plenty of reasons why drivers should heed these words – as one insurance company revealed, nearly a quarter of their accident claims from the first half of 2018 were collisions from behind. This reveals a lot about how many drivers still do not know the most basic safety precautions while driving on our nation’s roads. Thankfully, Highway England is not alone in the fight for road safety. Joining the battle are modern GPS trackers and phone apps specifically designed to improve safety on UK roads.
Perhaps the simplest and most straightforward example of this is an app called Romex MyFix. This app uses the smartphone’s standard GPS system to detect when the phone's user is travelling at 4mph or faster, at which point it disables the screen, calls, emails, messaging, and any other feature that might distract the driver from focusing on the road ahead.
The prevalence of GPS technology, particularly in smartphones, has contributed a lot to making our roads safer. Eliminating technology-based distractions using the same technology is just one aspect of how GPS trackers and apps can improve driver behaviour on the road. However, technology can also play an active role in improving road safety. Verizon Connect notes how GPS trackers can now issue reminders in the form of an audible buzzer when unsafe driving is detected. Designed for the heavy trucking industry, it allows drivers to correct their on-the-road behaviour immediately, which in turn will help them meet the device’s safe driving metrics. This contributes to road safety as heavy truck drivers will navigate UK roads with the knowledge that bad habits are being monitored by a third party. Rapid reminders can also correct driver behaviour much faster compared to apps that just provide safety scores after a certain number of miles.
This isn’t to say that there’s no merit in score-based driver safety apps. These apps have been proven to be effective in improving the long-term driving behaviour. For instance, the Aviva Drive app keeps track of routes, times, acceleration, and braking that it then uses to rate your overall driving safety score over 200 miles. As an added bonus, T3 reveals that if your scores are good enough, you could even use them to get a discount when you apply for Aviva’s comprehensive car insurance program. Even if you’re not planning to look into Aviva’s insurance options, Aviva Drive is very useful in terms of letting you track whether your driving performance has improved or declined during the last 200 miles of activity.
While smartphone technology is responsible for distracted driving, these apps and technologies prove that we don’t have to eliminate smartphones or GPS devices from cars altogether. We just need to use the existing technologies and modify their use in ways that allow drivers to keep their eyes and minds on the road ahead.