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From driving licenses to insurance telematics

Telematics is the newest frontier in the long evolution of car and road safety

Whilst driving has now become second nature to many of us, cars were introduced only 130 years ago. Now, over one billion drivers use cars daily to move around the planet.

In 1888, Karl Benz, the inventor of the automobile, had to receive written permission from the Grand Ducal authorities to operate his car on public roads after residents complained about the noise and smell of his motorwagen, not to mention accidents.

Indeed, along with cars, came the first accidents. There were neither rules nor standards and neither motorists nor pedestrians had a clear idea of how to behave. While by the early 1930s, cars came equipped with now standard features such as hydraulic brakes, safety glass and seat belts; it took longer for a clear series of driving and road safety regulations to be enacted. In fact, the use of seat belts was not enforced in many parts of the world until the late twentieth century.

The first mandatory driving license was introduced in the United Kingdom by the 1903 Motor Car Act, but the driving test did not become a requirement until 1935 – only eighty years ago, but it saved thousands of lives. In 1904, the United Kingdom standardised traffic signs. The first three-colour traffic lights, which were installed in New York City in 1918, were operated manually by the police. The first compulsory car insurance scheme was introduced in the United States in 1925, while, in the United Kingdom, the Road Traffic Act introduced mandatory insurance in 1930.

Since then, cars have continued to adopt innovative features that have improved both their performance and safety. Meanwhile, authorities around the world have drafted and honed road regulations to safeguard the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

Insurance telematics is the latest frontier in the evolution of car and road safety: not only does it provide users with the advantage of custom-tailored policies, based on the pay as you drive model, but even more importantly it delivers a vast series of added-value features ranging from emergency alerts in case of accidents to vehicle geo-location in case of theft, from real-time traffic alerts to futuristic voice-controlled and driverless cars.

Octo Telematics recently supported the United Nation’s Third Global Road Safety Week. Whilst roads are inherently dangerous and we might never completely eliminate the risks associated with driving, Octo Telematics believes that it’s possible to make a big difference. We might not be able to stop all accidents, but by working together and developing innovative services, we can make roads a much safer place for everybody.

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