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Richard King: how do we take telematics further?

Richard King

Having recently returned to the helm of ingenie, I’m once again focused on how we can reach more young people with the benefits we revealed in our Young Driver Report last year.

Since launching ingenie back in 2011, we’ve collected and analysed more than 500 million miles of driving data, and crashes in our community have reduced by 40% compared with national statistics.

More and more young people are getting insured with a black box - the British Insurance Brokers' Association is predicting 500,000 telematics policies by the end of this year.

As a trustee of RoadSafe, I attended the Prince Michael Road Safety Awards in London just before Christmas. I got into a detailed debate with Stephen Stradling, Professor emeritus at Edinburgh Napier University - a world-leading expert in driver psychology.

We talked about the take-up of telematics and agreed: those that want it, don't need it and those that need it, don't want it. The safe drivers will earn their discounts, and good for them. The drivers who need our help most are the least interested in telematics insurance - and if they do get a black box policy, they often don't stick with it long enough to really benefit.

It’s like learning to ride a bike: we’re always too keen to get the stabilisers off. But if we take them off too soon, we fall off the bike.

Young drivers (and their parents) need to stay interested in the benefits of black box insurance beyond the first year. It’s not just the first weeks, months or even year on the road - it’s the first years that are critical.

Too many drivers think they’ve achieved driving excellence once they get to the end of the first year, but why wouldn’t you keep your co-pilot beyond that? It’s not just about the discounts you’re earning; the black box is also an anti-theft device and it’s a defence against false claims.

All too often [parents] do not understand that the more supervised practice a young driver has, the more their risk is reduced. Telematics provides a form of supervised practice.

Adrian Walsh
Director of RoadSafe

The next issue is the government - what’s going to happen next? The most likely outcome, nothing. That could be a good thing, because the likely action would be introducing Graduated Driver Licensing, which would make it harder for young people to get a licence and add new restrictions in the first years of driving.

Before we had the change of government earlier this year, there were indications that the road safety minister had committed to undertaking a study into the benefits of telematics for young driver safety. Disappointingly, that didn’t happen - with a suggestion that there isn’t enough evidence. I find it hard to believe that, with over 500,000 telematics users and the mass of data available.

Is it that we’ve actually done the work for them? The insurance industry has got on and taken its own measures to reduce crashes. This has flowed through to insurance premiums (still high, but so much lower than a few years ago) but we’re still seeing a reckless minority of drivers causing very expensive crashes.

Those that need it, don’t want it. That’s the challenge: convincing everyone that telematics is the best option, full stop. When the government begins to address the issue of young driver safety again, we'll be standing by with the evidence.


Richard King

By Richard King

As founder of ingenie, Richard is passionate about helping young drivers get on the road safely and affordably. He appears on TV campaigning to improve young driver safety.