How new road safety tech fits with telematics insurance

The Times reported this week that by 2022, all new car models will be fitted with speed cap technology. New versions of existing models will catch up by 2024. It’s an EU directive but the UK government has committed to the change, which should be given the OK by the European Parliament in September. The plan is for vehicles to automatically slow when entering a new speed limit too fast. The critics among us will spot an issue there: what if someone’s driving right up your exhaust as you pass the sign? The feature will also rely on drivers not disabling it, meaning there could still be spotty use and room for human error. That said, it’s definitely good news for road safety overall.

What does it mean for telematics insurance?

Using technology to make our roads safer is essential, but benefits trickle down to used car buyers, especially young drivers, very slowly. In 2024, the car of a 17-year-old driver may be a decade or more behind the advancements and most in need of them. Telematics insurance can bridge some of that gap by helping young drivers and parents stay aware of safety issues. In terms of the headline safety feature – speed limiting technology – speed is one of the biggest factors in crashes, but it’s certainly not the only factor in advanced telematics analysis. Combinations of location, time, speed, cornering and other data points give a rich picture of a driver’s risk. And then there are the other benefits: the opportunity to cross-reference all the data sources an insurer has to make sure the customer’s details are correct, and the deterrent to fraud. Both save the insurer money, which means their premiums can be lower and they can sell more policies. Telematics is about far more than just driving behaviour now. As road safety technology and legislation speed ahead, telematics insurance will be there to complement it.

Other features in the directive

The directive mentions various other safety features – most of which are already appearing in newer, more expensive vehicles. These proposals make it clearer than ever that technology is massively changing the way we drive, and even the way we think about driving. It’s not just the EU’s plans for speed limiters, but the likely appearance of driverless vehicles on our roads during the next few years, and changes to the infrastructure of our road network to cope with them. Telematics technology is already at the forefront of these changes, and will continue to play a massive role in our mobility in the future.