IN EARLY JANUARY, just weeks before Victoria revealed plans to shift the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) to no-fault-style insurance, 2,100 new drivers took to the roads with tiny devices tucked between their windshields and rear-view mirrors.
Since then, the “Smart Tag” sensors have been collecting data on everything from drivers’ vehicle acceleration and braking habits to smartphone use while behind the wheel.
At the same time a paradigm shift is unfolding for the auto insurance industry, ICBC’s yearlong telematics pilot will be examining whether a mix of incentives, information sharing and technology can improve driver behaviour and reduce crashes.
“Anything that scientists can do to better understand what factors affect crashes is good, is useful,” said Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
The voluntary pilot requires drivers to download a mobile app and attach the Smart Tag provided by vendor Octo Telematics North America LLC.
The app and Smart Tag feature a GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope to collect data on driving habits.
Participants – those with four years’ experience or less – are divided into two groups: one receives weekly reports on their driving habits; the other will not find out their results until the 12-month pilot ends.
The first group will receive scores based on acceleration, speeding, braking and distance driven as well as any distracted driving that’s detected.
Litman said even just increased awareness about one’s own habits can change drivers’ behaviour.
As part of the pilot, ICBC is offering participants up to $250 in gift cards.
The better a driver performs, the more he or she can earn.