Could telematics measure phone use behind the wheel?

Insurers could soon start using telematics to monitor drivers who use their handsets while driving.

Most telematics policies use black boxes installed in cars, but about a quarter use apps downloaded onto mobile phones, which measure driving information such as braking, accelerating and cornering. The next step could be monitoring phone use behind the wheel.

Telematics technology provider Wunelli has already collected phone data for one insurance broker, Drivology, to measure the effect of using a phone while driving. It found it produced reaction times similar to those of drunk drivers.

The company said that motorists who agreed to have their driving behaviour monitored via an app could also have their call data monitored.

Marrying together this information could present privacy issues, but Jonathan Hewett of Octo Telematics said his firm was working on a technology to overcome these concerns.

He said, ‘The only resistance is a perception that it would be a barrier for consumers. There’s concern that they would see it as a Big Brother scenario. But there is also huge concern from insurers about distracted driving. Our current clients are interested and the topic is increasingly in everybody’s mind.’