Texting and driving in California and elsewhere has always been dangerous, but now insurance companies are gathering data to use in setting premiums. Insurance giant Allstate, through its Arity subdivision, is monitoring smartphones while cars are moving and may soon seek to implement that data into underwriting decisions.
Almost every smartphone is equipped with an accelerometer, which measures speed, and a gyroscope, which measures movement and orientation of the device. These built-in measures make the use of navigation apps simple and convenient but also give enormous amounts of data about users who download apps like Allstate's Drivewise. Allstate markets the app as a tool to reward safe drivers and offers premium discounts to some policyholders agreeing to have their driving habits monitored. In addition to monitoring vehicle speed, braking patterns and general patterns of use, the app monitors the position of the phone inside the vehicle and whether it is moved during transit.
A study of 1.6 million car accidents shows that many crashes are caused by distracted drivers, and cell phone usage in vehicles has become a major cost driver for insurance companies. Additional data shows distracted driving accidents are more serious than those involving attentive drivers are. Allstate maintains that distracted driving claims cost an average of 160% more than those involving drivers that are more attentive. Approval from state regulators will be required before this data is incorporated into underwriting decisions, but forecasters are convinced the change is coming.
When using an insurance app, drivers are encouraged to put their phones in airplane mode while in transit or place their devices in a cradle and enter destination data for navigation apps before departure. Denying passengers access to phones could also prevent false data from being recorded.
If a person is one of the 330,000 people injured in distracted driving crashes annually, he or she should consider consulting an experienced injury lawyer. An attorney can help hold distracted drivers accountable and provide someone with valuable peace of mind.