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UK Eyes Telematics to Boost Road Safety

UK Authorities are looking into telematics devices to foster road safety for young drivers

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has been analysing the advantages of telematics insurance devices as part of its drive to improve general road safety and especially that of young drivers.

The DfT first announced that it was analysing the possible use of telematics devices to increase road safety and especially that of young drivers in March 2013. In January 2014, the UK Authorities aired the possibility of drafting a green paper to address a range of options for improving road safety, reducing risks and cutting the cost of insurance for young drivers. Moreover, the authorities have also recently begun looking into the use of telematics for workers operating company vehicles.

The green paper should analyse the benefits of telematics, what savings it engenders, its take‑up and how realistic the offered discounts are. Clearly, if the government identifies a genuine benefit, then it will be in the position to actively promote telematics. At present, however, notwithstanding encouragement from the telematics insurance industry, the government seems to have delayed the production of the report.

Although the DfT is not expected to advocate mandatory telematics for young drivers, telematics would provide a wide range of beneficial effects. In the first place, monitoring young driver behaviour would allow the DfT to gather precious information on driver behaviour and improve their understanding of this specific category. Moreover, there also is the option of introducing tax breaks, such as waiving the insurance premium tax, or providing other incentives to promote safe driving in a category that is considered at risk. In fact, these measures have purportedly also been backed by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA).

According to The Post, a DfT spokesman explained: “The safety of young drivers is a key priority for the government. Telematics has great potential to improve road safety and we are considering commissioning further research into this technology. We will announce any new initiatives in this area in due course.”

Above all, however, the interest of the DfT in telematics clearly underlines that it is well on its way to becoming a mainstream service. In fact, data released by the BIBA at the beginning of the year (2014) indicates that sales of telematics insurance policies have increased by 60% over the past eighteen months with nearly 300,000 policies sold in in the United Kingdom in 2013.

Thanks to its partnership with Insurethebox, the United Kingdom’s leading telematics insurance company – with which Octo Telematics has recently extended its existing partnership – over 300,000 Octo Black Boxes have been installed in UK policyholder vehicles since 2010.

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