Teen Driving Safety … Can Smartphone UBI Help?

smartphone-ubiIn the Portland area, three teen drivers were recently killed in motor vehicle accidents, all in the timeframe of one weekend. These deaths have sparked a conversation among Oregon policymakers about teen driving.

The existing rule requires teens to go through an extended period of supervised driving before they’re fully licensed. For eight years after it was introduced, the policy brought teen crashes down by almost 30 percent. Now, however, it seems to have “reached the limits of its ability to reduce serious crashes on the roads,” Troy Costales of ODOT said.

What’s being done about it?

Legislators are talking about toughening the guidelines on when teens are allowed to have other teenagers in the car. According to a AAA study, the risk inflates by about 44 percent when a teen is driving with one other person under 21 years old. With two under-age passengers, it doubles. With three or more, it more than quadruples.

Even without any passengers, the risk is high to begin with. The ODOT teen driving manual says that for drivers age 20 and under, the crash rate has been twice as high as for the general population. “Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States,” AAA said.

What else can policymakers do? Costales said they’re thinking about upping the minimum driving age to 17 or 18, or possibly restricting the driving hours for teens even further – although these ideas won’t work if they create a hardship for Oregon’s rural communities.

Can UBI driver coaching help?

While in this example, the teen driving accidents took place in Oregon, these kinds of tragedies occur throughout the nation, every day.

Maybe one aspect of the answer is already in most teens’ pockets. Smartphone telematics apps reward good driving with an insurance discount, offering drivers an incentive to improve their skills. For teens, that’s probably not much of a motivation if their parents are footing the insurance bill. However, gamification is.

If the smartphone UBI app features real-time driving data calculation, teens can receive feedback on their driving at the conclusion of every trip. When your smartphone detects every time you brake or corner too hard, and when you know you can improve your score with every incident-free trip, suddenly following the rules becomes fun. Immediate feedback makes learning easier. And when the game is safety, everyone wins.

To learn more about improving safety for teens on the road, take a look at Impact Teen Drivers: a national nonprofit founded by the mother of a teen who died in a crash.

To learn more about adding smartphone UBI to your product line up, download our OBD v. Smartphone UBI Comparison Report.

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