If you had an incentive to become a better driver, would you? If there was positive reinforcement – or perhaps negative consequences – could you change your driving habits? That’s what two California-based companies, FICO and eDriving, are banking on with their introduction of the FICO Safe Driving Score.
The FICO Safe Driving Score
Chances are, you have heard of a FICO Credit Score. The scores influence what a lender may offer when a consumer applies for credit. By calculating scores, lenders are able to efficiently evaluate a consumer’s credit report.
Essentially, that same concept is being brought to your driving record. The scores can be used by employers (if an employee drives on the job), parents with teen drivers, insurance companies, and various other institutions. Your driving behavior would be measured in a similar way your credit score is measured.
At a time where users often have to use defensive driving school as a way to reduce insurance rates, the FICO Safe Driving Score could prove beneficial to drivers looking for additional methods to prove safe driving habits.
Currently, a lot of companies appear interested in the concept. FICO has formed an advisory board that contains representatives from insurance companies, brokers, fleet and incident management companies and car manufacturers.
What is eDriving?
According to their website, eDriving has been using technology to advance driver training for over 20 years. The company is a focus of two companies who are very popular when it comes to online traffic school – driversed.com and idrivesafely.com. Born from the concepts of defensive driving schools, eDriving is cutting edge in regards to combining engaging content with online traffic school. A smartphone telematics solution, they seek to improve driving behavior. They are the largest global provider of online driver training and global driver risk management, with more than 10 million U.S. customers to date. Their mission is to maximize road safety by using technology and online learning expertise to empower drivers to control their behaviors behind the wheel.
So How Does It Work?
The eDriving application would capture data such as acceleration, braking, cornering, speeding, cellphone distraction, and other behavioral data, as well as provide proprietary and predictive analytics. eDriving spokeswoman Regina Lewis stated that their program Mentor “turns your phone into a black box.” This data would be used to formulate your FICO Safe Driving Score, which would build weekly and monthly scores. As Mentor would accumulate more data, the Safe Driving Score would become more accurate. Over time, the model would become more reflective of driving habits. The feedback provided by the application would identify areas that are deficient, and provide tutoring based on each driver’s specific area of need.
It Makes Sense, But How Would I Benefit?
The goal is for insurers to use the Safe Driving Score to set premiums, with better rates being offered to better drivers. It really is a concept that makes sense. Auto insurance companies take on more risk when insuring drivers that are not safe, because the risk of them being in an accident increases. That is why your insurance tends to go up when you receive a moving violation or cause an accident – because you are deemed to be a riskier endeavor for the insurance company.
The difficultly with that is, once insurance rates go up, it is very difficult to get them to go down. As mentioned before, drivers will often take online traffic school or defensive driving school in an effort to demonstrate improved safety on the road to their insurance company. While these are great ways to show that, the FICO Safe Driving Score will allow drivers to demonstrate improved driving behavior, not just improved driving knowledge. It will hopefully serve as a beneficial tool providing insurance companies with quantitative data demonstrating safe driving, resulting in reduced premiums.
Another side effect where drivers could be impacted is rental car rates. Your rate for renting a car would be determined by your FICO Safe Driving Score, with the same concept as above being applied. Worse drivers pose a bigger risk when renting a car, and therefore would be required to pay more as means to mitigate this risk. Having a score attached not just to your driving record, but to your driving habits, would promote safe behavior and incentivize drivers to think twice before engaging in dangerous driving habits like texting or speeding.
Having an abundance of behavioral data allows drivers to prove to companies just how excellent of a driver they are, with concrete proof to back it up. You’ve driven safely for your entire life – isn’t it time you were rewarded for it?
This Could Truly Be a Beneficial Tool
As someone who works in an industry that heavily involves online driving schools, I can be the first person to testament to the importance of safe driving habits. This tool truly seems as though it can promote behavioral safe driving changes, and truly reward that behavior. In this day and age, technology is having an increasingly dramatic impact on our everyday lives. It is exciting to see this technology develop even further to HELP drivers. While strides have been made with online driving schools, this is the next step. The National Safety Council reports 1.6 million auto accidents per year occur as a result of texting and driving. It is refreshing to see cell phone use and driving be paired together in a positive manner, encouraging drivers to put the phone down – not pick the phone up. Bad driving will become more expensive than it already is. FICO and eDriving could have found a solution that will impact all drivers for years to come.