back to article Would you let your car insurer snoop on you for a better deal?

Having your driving style assessed by a back-seat black box of tricks sounds galling – but if it can shave money off your insurance premium, a beancounting firm reckons you'll put up with it. Particularly if you're an 18-year-old pimple-faced lad. The gadget-based insurance scheme rewards careful drivers with lower premiums, …

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  1. Zog The Undeniable

    Small correction

    "Driving under the speed limit in the wrong lane" is not an offence if you're overtaking something slower, such as a lorry governed to 56mph. It's not compulsory to do 70mph in the rightmost two lanes of a motorway.

    Obviously, dawdling along in the middle lane overtaking nothing and causing a holdup is a Bad Thing.

    I think our Reg correspondent has been watching Top Gear.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Undertaking

      I thought it was only ok if in traffic or where the lanes are clearly marked as seperate, havent got my dvla book at hand.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        FAIL

        @myself

        I'm right (Sorry downvoter you are wrong), highway code 253 states - Do not overtake on the left or move to a lane on your left to overtake. In congested conditions, where adjacent lanes of traffic are moving at similar speeds, traffic in left-hand lanes may sometimes be moving faster than traffic to the right. In these conditions you may keep up with the traffic in your lane even if this means passing traffic in the lane to your right. Do not weave in and out of lanes to overtake.

        Source: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069862

        1. The Commenter formally known as Matt
          Trollface

          You mean 268 not 253, and that is the highway code, not law.

          1. Mark 65

            "You mean 268 not 253, and that is the highway code, not law."

            Can't tell if it applies in this case as I don't have a copy to hand, but large chunks of the highway code relate to the Road Traffic Act and therefore are law. Normally it says in the little book when this applies.

            Whilst we're here though, anyone who thinks an insurance company won't use this device's data to weasel out of paying your claim is a fool. Whilst high cost insurance doesn't ensure a good service I am always wary of the real low cost operators as they have to be saving money somewhere and I'm pretty sure they all use cheap call centres.

      2. geekguy
        Thumb Up

        Clarification

        You can undertake if you are in slow moving traffic, or that the lanes have been separated such that they are leading to different roads, at this point each lane is considered a seperate road in its own right.

    2. Ross R
      FAIL

      "wrong lane"

      It depends on your definition of "wrong lane". In reality the answer is always "it depends" and that is the problem.

      Often, arriving at the end of a motorway on ramp at under 50mph is downright dangerous. Sometimes it is entirely appropriate.

      Perhaps the author should have chosen a better example. Here are a few suggestions of risky driving behaviours that this box will not spot:

      Tailgating

      Undertaking

      Putting on makeup whilst driving

      Driving at night with no lights on

      Driving with insufficient tread on tires

      Driving with a dirty or cracked windscreen

      Driving the wrong way on a dual carriageway

      Disobeying turning restrictions

      Overloading your vehicle

      Playing on your PSP whilst driving

      Inappropriate use of indicators

      Blinding oncoming traffic with full beam headlights

      Using the wrong lane at a roundabout

      Mounting the curb

      Need I go on?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >"Driving under the speed limit in the wrong lane" is not an offence if you're overtaking something slower, such as a lorry governed to 56mph.

      I do not think this is an offence at all.

      There are places where a minimum limit is posted on a round blue sign showing the minimum speed, but generally 'driving under the speed limit' is encouraged.....

      Plod will probably still do you for driving without due care and attention if you start holding up too much traffic mind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Undertaking

        Is not in and of itself dangerous although an officer may take it as a sign of dangerous driving. Although the Highway Code does state a few conditions where it is expressly permitted.

        My defence if stopped for doing it would be along the lines of:

        "Officer, I did not change lanes to perform the near-side pass as I have been in the left-most lane for the past [n] miles or so, nor was I excess of the posted speed limit or a safe speed for the prevailing conditions, nor did I sound my horn, flash my light or make any other aggressive gesture, and I determined one considerately executed manoeuvre to be safer than five (two lane changes, an overtake and two further lane changes to get left again) in order to pass that complete cock who thinks he owns the middle lane."

        I have never been stopped for undertaking and I am damned sure I have been observed doing it.

        Oh, and one final mini-rant; ZIP FILTER YOU CRETINS! It's more efficient for all concerned and it is not "queue jumping".

      2. Ragarath

        Re: Ross R

        Wow all of my pet peeves in one nice list.

        Though I had a similar idea (just not the enthusiasm to follow it through) but the box also had cameras mounted around the car.

        Indeed the idea was to reduce the insurance levels people pay (not just the young un's) and came about after someone went up my rear end and had the audacity to say it wasn't him (damage to my car not his) and the insurance company did no investigation and just took his word.

        "But sir we have sent them a letter" the only thing the insurance company did in 5 months. Why do we pay them again?

      3. Just Thinking

        Actually some of those things could be detected. Driving at night with no lights on, overloading and mounting the curb - are there not sufficient sensors on many cars to check those?

      4. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Paris Hilton

        You missed one Ross R

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/09/florida_crash/

        It's one way to avoid being picked up by the fuzz

        Paris, I'll bet she's never been picked up by the fuzz.... Oh hang, she has.....

      5. zb

        Be careful what you wish for, it may be granted

        No, you need not go on. Why not look at what it can do rather than what it cannot. A lot of information is generated which will allow an insurer to assess the risk of covering a driver. So far that is all that it claims to do.

        The sad thing is that it will probably be wildly successful, eventually do all things in your list and then be sold to parents, police, employers and we will all have a "spy in the cab" reporting on everything that we do and teams of faceless bureaucrats handing out fines.

    4. jonathanb Silver badge

      While what you say is true, if you drive at 10mph in the right hand lane, or even the left hand lane, and you are not doing it because you are stuck behind something else, then you can expect a more severe penalty than someone doing 90mph.

      Driving in the wrong lane could also mean driving on the wrong side of the road on a single carriageway.

    5. Armando 123

      Maybe

      But it has gotten so bad that some places in the US (Arkansas, Indiana, and at least one other state) have tried to make it against the law to go under the speed limit in the passing lane unless impeded from doing so (slow traffic ahead of you, construction, weather, etc). This was one thing where left and right, black and white, Democrat and Republican, libertarian and socialist, all agreed. In fact, I know one pacifist who was for imposing the death penalty for it, and no one called them crazy. (And keep in mind, she was a pacifist, so it's not like she'd fight you over it.) However, in at least one case the ACLU blocked it because people had the right to go under the speed limit in the passing lane.

      I always thought that driving was a privilege, not a right. The ACLU lost the plot here.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It depends.

      In some parts of the world, there are minimum speed limits in different lanes, Portugal does this quit frequently on motorways with steep hills.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it is

      If you are going the wrong way on a one way street or on the wrong side of the motorway

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old news?

    Didn't NU/Aviva already try, and abandon, this approach a few years ago?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not quite the same but similar

      Pay As You Drive took into account routes / time of travel etc. in addition to the other parameters.

      It cost a lot of money to run - the telematics were significant and billing / MI complex.

      There was (apparently) no business case - this, of course, was discoverd after the pilot of real-customers completed and lots of money spent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They did running on a teradata platform. It was pretty awesome but canned as marketing couldn't bring a positive spin to it. One of the nice things about it was a panic button that was fitted with the telematics box - we rescued a few stranded people via that.

  3. GougedEye

    I would never go for this. But then I drive like a Punk Rocker on PCP. Might make sense for the the more accelerationally challenged out there though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other applications

    This technology will enable other applications though wont it? Like for instance carbon taxing your vehicle usage with a high level of precision since it measures how hard your accelerating as well as just your speed and distance.

    These things can be made madatory through the insurance companies by forcing you to have one to get insurance. I recently experienced an example of this myself having to go through a number of insurers untill I would find one who would insure my new wheels without madating that I fit a GPS enabled anti-theft system to the vehicle since it's a bit of a theif magnet.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      There is already an extremely accurate method of carbon taxing which we already use, which is to charge tax per litre at the pump. It is much more accurate than any other method because you know exactly how much carbon there is in a litre of fuel.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC RE Carbon taxing

      Dude, there is a much easier way of collecting carbon tax based on how much carbon is emitted - add the carbon tax to fuel cost at source. No need for any weird maths and other pointless shite.

      1. PatientOne

        He's got a point, though: Carbon tax isn't just taken at the pump. The government also wants to charge businesses for how far their workers travel by car when commuting to work via carbon taxes, and that's on top of charging for how far the business fleet travels, and next is how far customers travel to visit the site...

        Three guesses what project I'm working on at the moment :(

        1. Ru

          It ain't all bad

          If your employer doesn't already support telecommuting, maybe with sufficient financial pressure in the form of commuter carbon taxes will wake them up.

  5. NightFox
    Black Helicopters

    Doubt and Suspicion

    I'm not normally the cynical type, but when it comes down to insurers...

    This seems like a good idea in principal, but with the depths insurers will go to to avoid making legitimate payouts I'd be paranoid of having a no-fault incident, perhaps sitting at a junction and someone running into the back of me, and my insurers refusing to pay out on the grounds that 3 minutes earlier I'd exceeded the speed limit by 2mph.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Stop

      I think you'll find

      The depths insurers go to to avoid making legitimate payouts is directly related to the heights people will go to to inflate or falsify a claim.

      I refuse to go AC on this, even though I expect howls of downvotes as I've worked for the insurance industry and heard some toe-curlers ....

      1. PatientOne

        I happen to agree with you, Jimmy, and there are reports of how bad the false claims are getting.

        The thing is: Honest people suffer. What ever happens, it's my pocket these companies raid just so they cover their costs and make their profits. And there's no one (or no one who is independent) regulating them.

        Which is why I'd never allow an insurance company to spy on me, no matter what the discount they offered. I've no reason to believe they'll keep my details confidential. After all, they've been caught selling claims information to solicitors who then try the personal injury scam.

  6. Charles 9 Silver badge

    At least there's an incentive this time.

    Putting it into cars wholesale? Not a good idea. But giving drivers an INCENTIVE to do it? Now you're putting the market to use. All we can do now is wait and see how this goes.

  7. The BigYin

    Under a few conditions...

    ...I might.

    1) I have full access to all the data.

    2) The data is in an open standard that anyone can implement.

    3) I can, at my discretion, disable the device.

    4) The company will not, unless via my express consent of legal process, pass the information on to any third party for any reason whatsoever. And that may include other departments within the same company.

    5) When calculating the premium, then company explains IN FULL how it works it out.

    There are probably more that should be added but as the negatives far out-weigh any positives there's little point in continuing. For example, I can see the police demanding access and trawling the data looking for speeding offences etc.

    For professional drivers (truckers, taxi etc) it might be worthwhile. But for the private citizen the risks are simply too great.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @The BigYin

      It won't work like that.

      Insurers will say: This is what we will do with your data, this is how we will store your data, these are subject to change at our discretion, if you disable the device your insurance is void and when calculating the premium you get the option to either (a) take it or (b) leave it.

      They will then give you a quote - at which point you are free to exercise either option (a) or (b) above.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Truck drivers already have tachometers to measure and record their speed.

      1. Armando 123

        But truck drivers are not driving their own trucks (usually) and because of the risks that such massive vehicles pose, they are subject to stricter monitoring and stricter licensing.

        I can only thank the gods that people who don't care about cars, who tend to be the worst drivers, generally buy little crapwagons that fall apart after running over a nightcrawler, or drive a minivan, which has the acceleration and maneuverability of a warthog giving birth to octuplets. During the SUV craze it could get a bit hairy. (And I say that as someone who drives an SUV.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          nuff said

          "I can only thank the gods that people who don't care about cars, who tend to be the worst drivers ...... (And I say that as someone who drives an SUV.) "

          Unless you measure your back garden in acres. Or you live down a muddy track, in which case you're excused.

          1. Ru
            Facepalm

            "in which case you're excused."

            You'll only be excused if you're driving a practical vehicle, not a beefed up toy. Guess which category most *S*UVs fall into.

  8. The BigYin

    With no up-link...

    ...a device could be useful for accident investigation. e.g. it stores the last 5 minutes of various vehicle states and maybe from a few cameras. Again, as the owner of the vehicle, I would demand the ability to see the data.

  9. Simbu
    Mushroom

    Over my dead body

    I don't fucking think so!

    I enjoy driving and when i feel like it, driving enthusiastically. I don't want or need some patronising arse of an insurer to tell me i'm 'doing it wrong' and charge me a massive premium for it. As long as it's within the law and what I deem to be safe i'll drive as i damned well please.

    I'll take my chances and enjoy my driving thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you're missing the point...

      ... the insurers are already charging you a massive premium for your style of driving (they simply assume all drivers are as "enthusiastic" as you, and tar everyone with the same brush of charge scales).

      What they are looking to offer here is you the chance to lower your premium, by giving them proof that you are not "enthusiastic" in the slightest. It's nothing to do with telling you are doing wrong, they already assume you are doing wrong.

      1. Simbu

        In the short term...

        You are probably right, but this is would end up being the first step into a mindset from the insurers that goes like this:

        "Why wouldn't you want this installed? It saves you money. If you don't want if, it must mean you're a bad driver and don't wanted to be outed as such. We should hike your premiums to reflect this. Oh, everyone's going for it because they want to save money, which means we're making less money. Time to up EVERYONE'S premium."

        And the long term result is premiums don't change, unless you don't have a black box installed, at which point your insurance costs are astronomical.

        1. dr2chase

          Don't think it needs to be "mindset", simple economics/game theory does it

          Figure that those who (think they) drive carefully will want these so that they can save a little money. Pretty quickly, they'll find out if they DO "drive carefully" or not, and those that don't, will quit being monitored.

          No nefarious intent involved, insurance rates for the unmonitored will go up because they are the less safe group. As more people try this option, the customers will sort themselves out into two pools, one that is monitored and more safe, the other that is unmonitored and less safe (because all the safe drivers are off being monitored and saving money).

          Two things would enhance this effect. One, is (near-) real-time feedback on safety, where the computer lets you know about safety mistakes (and maybe sounds an alarm for big ones) so that you can learn. Two, is real-time charging. If you can save money by driving less (at least in the US, auto insurance costs a big fixed fee plus a low cost per self-reported mile). This gives a larger group of people an incentive to try it (and will also cut driving overall, since it raises the incremental cost per mile).

          In addition, the correlation between what that black box thinks is safe, and what IS safe, will go up, because the insurers will have a mess of data to work with. It's never going to be a strong correlation because most speeding, most tailgating, and most stop-running does not result in crashes; my personal theory is that you need at least two things to go "wrong" at the same time.

      2. PatientOne

        @Dibbley

        Nope, you've got it back to front.

        They will charge more if you show you're enthusiastic.

        Look at the current change in insurance: Before you were classed as 'Social and domestic' or 'Business'. People complained that they were paying for commuters who were higher risk than those who didn't drive to work. So there's now a 'social, domestic and commuter' option, for which you pay more.

        Insurance firms don't reduce your premiums: They find reasons to increase them, okay?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Statistics

      It's not about "doing it wrong", it's statistics.

      If you do things that put you in a group that correlates with a high accident risk, you pay more. If you don't you pay less. That includes driving at times of the day with relatively more accidents.

      Over time, a driver builds an insurance history that can be used to assess risk.

      These devices are just a way of being able to demonstrate that driving behavior either isn't typical of the group the driver would be lumped in with or is better than their historic record.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... sadly

      people who think like that often forget it's not just your dead body that results

  10. Rob Daglish
    FAIL

    Ok, I'll bite...

    If I actually believed that they would reduce the premiums rather than just go "No, 'cos see this sudden breaking event here?" when you'd stopped sharp to avoid some lunatic pulling out of a side road.

    And how does it know if it's me or the wife driving, cos presumably you can have more than one driver insured on a car? I'd guess it's a marketing wheeze rather than a genuine attempt to do anything serious....

    1. peter 45
      Devil

      THe british army already has these sensors in their cars. A friend has already been dinged for 'dangerous driving'. When he asked to see the data, it was for a single event when he had to do an emerency stop.

      Who honestly believes that insurance conpanys will not use the data for any excuse to push the premium up?

      Hands up......anyone?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Save you money? Actually, It depends

    One of my former employers provided the software algorithms for a few of these pay as you drive schemes.

    They were broken, we knew they were broken, we knew what the problem was. But due to the age of the system, we were unable to do anything about it.

    The problem is that when you take out insurance, you do so based on the price of the policy on that day. Insurers however, keep updating the same policies they have to offer all the time, in line with the latest rates.

    This means that on a month by month basis, the BASE rate that the premium is calculated from, goes up.

    If you get an insurance quote, agree an instalment scheme (these are pretty extortionate, credit cards are often cheaper!) or pay it off all in one go, then for you, this isn't a problem.

    HOWEVER!

    If, like these pay as you drive customers, your mileage adjustment is calculated each month. The quoting system we used could not store more than TWO copies (this month's and NEXT month's) of the rates used to work out your premium, which means that the adjustment you're paying is NOT just for your mileage, but for the increase in the price of insurance on top.

    This was pro-rata adjusted appropriately, but still, in once case i tracked an 80% increase in price over the 12 months of one customers policy, every month the mileage increased and the 'driving' improved, but the premiums still went up, every month an extra charge was added because of the increase in market price at the time.

  12. trashbat
    Thumb Down

    Define safety?

    My bet: speed limit comparisons notwithstanding, someone who does 40mph everywhere will produce 'safer' telemetrics than a police class 1 driver staying within civilian limits. I know whose car I'd rather be in.

    1. The First Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Yeah, I've seen some of those police drivers on TV, and staying within the limits of the law tends not to be a big part of their repertoire: "look how dangerous the car in front is, overtaking on a bend. See how clearly you can see him as we follow along behind doing the same thing..."

      "Oh look, he has stopped suddenly and we ran straight into the back of him..." etc.

      1. trashbat

        Police driving

        I was rather thinking something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wvrhb1mDkYs

        In case you have doubts/questions, it was thoroughly dissected on Pistonheads and elsewhere. I imagine the metrics, especially acceleration, would make his insurance quite expensive.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      I'll take that bet

      Because I don't think you can "do 40mph everywhere" without the occasional piece of hard braking as your uniform daydream meets up with the reality that not everyone else is doing 40mph everywhere.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Yeah, Godwins, I know...

    When looking at extreme examples of 'normal' societies (think Nazi germany for example) I have often wondered how they morphed from being what was presumably a reasonable society into something 'clearly' abhorrent. Its natural to ask why the people didn't object, why they accepted it. I think the answer is the changes are made slowly, and often in an innocent or well intentioned manner ("Its for your own good").

    Voluntarily fitting technology like this to our vehicles seems to me like another step towards a dystopian world. Its a small step, maybe made with the best of intentions, but a step nonetheless.

    Also..

    I predict that even if your premium is lowered, in the event of needing a payout from the insurance company, they will trawl the data for every get-out clause case they can apply in order to avoid paying. Read the fine print well before installing it. ("We sympathise with your loss Mr Smith, however the black box clearly shows you were travelling at 31 mph in a 30 mph zone...")

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Call me pedant...

      ... but if you are doing 31 in a 30 zone, and are involved in an accident, then the chances are your speeding is entirely or equally to blame (Don't blame me officer for doing 31, the other guy was doing 32!).

      Insurance companies already refuse to pay out if it can be proved that you were driving outside of the limits within the Highway Code.

      Personally I believe the lower premium should be offerred if you have a car that doesn't let you drive like a maniac in the first place. But I think that problem won't be solved by the boffins anytime soon, so I'll carry on driving down the pavements to avoid traffic jams on the roads.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Maniac?

        You don't need a fast car to drive like a twat.

    2. dr2chase

      You don't need to "wonder"

      There's history. It didn't start like this. I'm a lot more troubled (in the US) by anti-immigration laws that allow the police to harass you if you happen to "look like" an immigrant (from where? in whose opinion?) and aren't carrying your "papers".

      It's also interesting to me how the recent status quo is accepted as a great thing, and the change would be dystopian. Our use of cars is not cost-free, and they have enough externalities (pollution, hazards to other road users, wars and corruption associated with obtaining their fuel) that a "free market" approach to their use is not at all guaranteed to be welfare-maximizing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Unhappy

        I'm also troubled by the changing laws on both sides of the pond, not especially by this one, but generally by the direction they are all going in.

        Negative changes, little by little over tens of years can transform a society. Taking the UK as an example I am most familiar with (having lived thru many of the changes), if the people of the UK enjoyed the *freedoms* that they were legally entitled to in the 70's, and a government were to come to power and attempt to implement the current status quo, there would be uproar. Cameras *everywhere*? Automated car numberplate tracking? Loss of the freedom to assemble (Public Order Act 1986)? Diplock Courts? Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act? Amateur police? Tasers?

        The USA has had similar negative changes, perhaps the most chillingly documented in the Bybee "Torture Memo".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good idea

    Calling it "snooping" immediately sets an uneccessarily negative perspective on it. I think it's a good initiative. It means that drivers who have invested in improving their driving, as well as long-term experienced drivers, will benefit more. Poor driving will be highlighted, giving the insurers a new market to address with incentives to improve. And driving overall would improve. What's not to like? I'd like to see black boxes installed in all vehicles by default.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tracking won't be beneficial.

    it may be touted as enabling you to get savings but I think majority of us know that it will be used to get the customer a raw deal as always happens with the crooked insurance business.

    They will have all this data and you know that they will just pull up one little mistake from your record of largely good driving to invalidate your claim or your discount.

    Insurance is a con, and the industry wouldn't be interested in this technology if they couldn't make even more money from it.

  16. alain williams Silver badge

    Most people prob will

    Most of the facebook generation don't care about privacy until it is too late. The insurance companies will sell the information in some way (just as they currently pass on your details to car repair garages, etc) to make a few bob. Once most people do this then they can rack up the prices for the few who don't -- on the basis that those who think for themselves are probably trouble makers anyway.

  17. yoinkster
    Thumb Down

    Having just renewed my insurance ...

    I'm pretty confident that I'd never allow anything like this into my car. My insurance company have already shown themselves to be great fraudsters.

    My renewal came through at £780 and within two minutes of talking to them on the phone it was down to £710. Last year it was even worse, the renewal price was £950 and after a few minutes on the phone it was down to £770. So no, I would certainly never trust an insurance company to "inspect" my driving.

    How does their little black box know that my swerve wasn't to avoid a fox? How does their box know that that heavy braking wasn't an emergency stop because someone pulled out in front of me? Most things that happen on the road are outside of the driver's immediate control, most accidents only have speed, for example, down as contributing factor not as the sole cause. So I fail to see how this box is a good idea.

    Also, what's stopping dad driving little jonny's car for a week/month to get in some good stats?

  18. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Yes I would. I think it should be optional but as an ex-member of the IAM I'm quite proud of my driving. I was a bit of a prat in my younger days but as I approached my 30s I calmed down. Anyway I've been driving for 25 years now and have never been a driver involved in a crash and have never been fined. Never even had a parking ticket.

    The closest I came was when I was driving my first car and was pulled over for a spot check because one headlight was out. The car was legal and after producing the MOT certificate at the police station that was that.

    So yes..I'd be happy to have my insurance company monitor my driving if it meant a discount :)

    1. IsJustabloke
      FAIL

      I CHOOSE to enoble a simple forum post!

      Actually, according to this -> http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/powers/road-traffic/ web page driving a car with a defective headlight is an offence.

      So stick that in your smug pipe ;-)

      I am also an IAM qualified driving and its you leather elbowed / courdery jacket wearing types that make us *all* look and sound like twats. I am neitehr of those things.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Yes, I know it's an offence that's why I mentioned it. I'll grant that it's therefore incorrect to describe the car as 'legal' but that's the only thing that was wrong with it and I think most people would accept that a failed headlight is a minor matter.

        As for attitudes:I wasn't being smug. I was just posting the facts and explaining why I would be happy to be sign up for the scheme. You on the other hand choose to make wild assumptions and resort to childish insults and foul language. That seems a curious choice for someone claiming (I think - hard to say based on your post) to be a member of the IAM.

  19. Elmer Phud
    FAIL

    Spherical, Plural

    When you pass your test, that's when you really start learning to drive.

    You begin to learn how your car actually works

    You go a bit too quick, corner too fast, brake too sharp etc. etc.

    By hamstringing young drivers they never really learn how to control a car, how to get out of a bit of a slide and are never going to learn how to manage screw-ups by themselves and others.

    It can't always be done on a track under controlled conditions.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "By hamstringing young drivers they never really learn how to control a car, how to get out of a bit of a slide and are never going to learn how to manage screw-ups by themselves and others."

      If the device really does result in drivers never needing to go a bit too quick, corner too fast or brake too sharply, then it is the greatest single contribution to road safety ever.

      And last time I was in a live-endangering situation on the roads, there wasn't time to teach the other driver my skills, so it really wouldn't have made any difference whether I had them or not.

  20. Chronos Silver badge
    Big Brother

    How long

    ...until this turns into standard premiums for the "withs" and inflated premiums for the "withouts"? It's inevitable.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get The Aviva Deal!

    Aviva piloted the exact same thing only a few years ago for under 25's.. Is it still around? No, cause it wasnt making any money!

  22. Red Bren
    Trollface

    "A similar box of wireless instruments is being tested by healthcare firms, who want to use it with pensioners who want to carry on living"

    Inconsiderate coffin dodgers!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice... not

    Next they'll come up with a radio pill that tells your health insurer if you've been having a few too many burgers, or a recreational drug here and there.

    Oh the future sounds luverly.

  24. Arctic fox
    Thumb Down

    "Would you let your car insurer snoop on you for a better deal?" F**k NO!

    No way for the very simple reason that the insurance companies will, if customers sit still for this, make it a condition of getting insurance at anything other than usurious premiums. In practice it amounts to putting the "spy in the cab" that lorry drivers have to accept (for a hold raft of reasons that do not apply to a private car driver - bit of a difference between driving a Ford Mondeo for a couple of hours a day and spending your entire working day a the wheel of a 32 ton "artic") into private cars without having to bother about inconvenient things like getting debated legislation through parliament and having to make/justify your case in the process.

  25. hplasm Silver badge
    Meh

    How about making this mandatory for lorries?

    They already have tachographs, so not much problem in adapting to it?

  26. SirTainleyBarking
    Black Helicopters

    On the face of it

    It all sounds plausible, and a win - win situation for all concerned.

    However the same reasoning was put out for ID cards, so forgive my suspicion about this sort of tech

  27. miknik
    Boffin

    Interesting, but how does it work?

    Does it have its own sensors or does it slurp data from the vehicle CAN? If the former then I would expect the location of the box within the car would have an effect on certain readings and if the latter then the black box manufacturers would need to be privy to the algorhythms used by each vehicle manufacturer to calculate lateral acceleration, yaw rate etc along with information on their CAN protocols. I'm sure motor manufacturers aren't going to hand this data out to anyone who comes asking.

    To generate meaningful data you would also need input from the steering angle sensor and the wheel speed sensors as this will give a much clearer input as to what the car is doing in relation to the driver input rather than simply what the car is doing. For example if you live down a windy country lane then obviously you will swerve much more on your drive home than if you live on a straight road, regardless of beer intake and testosterone. Without knowing the steering angle and wheel speeds how do you tell if the car is cornering normally or if the driver is skidding round each corner with the wheel on opposite lock?

    The concept is a good one, but probably one which could be implemented much more effectively by licencing the technology to the vehicle manufacturers and letting them incorporate it into their existing electronic stability control units rather than trying to stick another box in the car.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      CAN-BUS

      Good luck trying to get it to work with CAN-BUS.

      CAN-BUS only specifies the electrical bus and the communication protocol itself.

      Vehicle manufacturers are free to implement whatever nodes and functionality they like (ie: there is no defined CAN-BUS node for a steering wheel angle sensor - not only does it vary between manufacturers, it often varies even between different models).

    2. trashbat

      OBD

      Most recent (post-2001 or maybe 2005) cars are compatible with some onboard diagnostic standard, either EOBD or OBD II. This gives you speed, revs and various other common metrics without too much proprietary hacking - alright, different standards but it's good enough to work with vehicle agnostic tools. In fact you can get a £10 dongle and £4 Android app and see for yourself.

      That combined with the kind of accelerometer seen in mobile phones would probably tell you as much as they're after. It would lack a few things you mention but approximates to the same thing in context - of course, it still misses out on most of the information a human observer would use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        not all vehicles have OBD

        OBD is not an option for all vehicles, there are still a good number of vehicles on the road that do not have it in place, my own vehicle (2001 3.9 v8 rangerover) does not have it.

        I do wonder how these sensors would handle a vehicle like mine with regard to cornering since you get a lot more body roll.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    More totalitarian insanity

    So this week we have had

    - Initial work on mind control

    - Government announcement of mass censorship by the back door

    - Electronic spying being rolled out (cars initially, how long before its added to phones and then perhaps the populace in general through some means or other.....Capt Cyborg must be elated :/ )

    - Prime ministerial preference for lying over truth (May Vs Clarke)

    - Further incidents of Tory Sleaze

    - Mary Whitehouse V2 - Mothers Union getting Tory support.....Heading into a corporate theocracy??

  29. Ian Halstead
    Childcatcher

    Young drivers eh? Also include this...

    ....a device that disables the sound system whilst any windows are open.

  30. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sad

    "It's the sort of thing that ages ago we used to call friends and family"

    Somehow, that statement alone is sadder than the whole intrusive nature of the insurance business they are getting in to.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends on how many variables and if it's based on a kind of AI system.

    If it just looks and says you're going over the speed limit too much then it's useless.

    If it can also take into account the weather, time of day, traffic levels and then compares with other drivers doing similar things to see if you are more/less likely to crash then it's less bad.

    But then it is just road pricing though the back door if we have PAYD insurance they can just move the fuel tax onto that instead as a %.

    As it isn't one uber government database then it's less creepy but still not sure if it's a great idea.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't willing let anyone snoop on me. And I've seen some inducements to throw away my privacy in my time, this is just another.

  33. Unknown Error
    FAIL

    Any provision lowering the premium paid by the customer usually decreases the scope of the cover or releases the insurance company from some obligations. This turns out to be tricky in the most unwanted circumstances. Having a history of driving collected automatically gives an insurer a legal weapon to excuse themselves from ANY liability in the court. You can be always portrayed as a careless driver with a long, recorded history of exceeding speed limits etc. Jury won't be happy to see your history of friving. They would not be happy even to see their own driving history.

  34. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Oh dear...

    So we're back to the same old "speed, speed, speed" is everything about a driver.

    Doing 40 mph EVERYWHERE (as previously observed above) is just deadly. 40 straight through a 50mph (limit) zone, then 40 straight through the 30 mph zone, then 40 past the school... and so on.

    As is nonchalantly pootling up an ACCELERATION LANE onto a motorway or other fast moving road at 40 mph and having a long line of cars behind you. Then pulling obliviously onto the motorway and causing whatever unfortunate driver is in the inside lane to slow down massively or swerve to stop ramming the rear of the car.

    Then of course there is the trick of driving at 30mph... 5 inches behind the fecking car ahead of you.

    Slowing down massively when there is an oncoming car... on the other side of a two lane road.

    Having no fecking clue whatsoever about what lane to be in around a roundabout. The hint is in the name - you go ROUND it, not straight over it cutting lanes as you do. And the inside (left hand) lane is not the lane to choose when going right.

    But other than these minor problems... tracking speed will, of course, detect the bad drivers and punish them appropriately </sarcasm>

    1. Filippo

      Couldn't agree more

      Every single time someone hit me, everyone involved was going very slowly. I'm sick and tired of driving safety being reduced to speed. There are a gazillion other factors, many of which are way more important. The only reason everyone harps on speed is that it's EASILY MEASURED, which makes it really handy for grabbing revenue from fines. You can't easily fine someone for driving while sleepy, for cutting through a roundabout, for tailgating on the motorway, for blocking the fast lane or for giving more attention to their chat with the passenger than to the road - so we pretend that it doesn't matter, as long as they do so under the speed limit.

    2. Cowardly Animosity
      Happy

      Do you live in Suffolk too?

  35. Ogi
    Go

    I didn't take this offer..

    There are insurers who offer this already. I am in the "under 25's" section, a male, and have my license for about a year now.

    The initial car I bought was a VW Polo 1.0L from 1998, and insurance was about £1300/yr for it. Some insurers (like Tesco) offered me a lower rate (about £900/yr) if I agreed to install a GPS Tracking device. When I asked what it does they told me the following:

    * It is installed in the engine bay, and hooks into the ECU

    * It measures speed, throttle position, acceleration, location and time

    * It sends this to the insurer (they didn't specify how, but I presume via mobile network)

    The insurer would then adjust me premiums based on how risky I drive, how much I drive, and when I drive (apparently driving on Friday night incurs higher premiums). To me it sounds like this tech has already been around a while, although I'm not sure if the one they offered me provided g-forces logging.

    I wasn't given the ability to view the contents of the GPS device, no phone/web app to interact with it, so I guess that's a new feature of this system.

    I can't tell you how it would have turned out, as I didn't take the offer up. Turns out that if I got an older car, I could get classic car insurance. So sold the VW and ended up buying a 1982 sports couple, and my insurance is £300 a year! The low insurance more than makes up for the fact the 2.5L engine used more fuel, and no need for any kind of tracking device. So I'm happy.

  36. Skoorb
    WTF?

    Already happens - a few years old

    This is old news, apart from another company piling in.

    Here's a list of some of the current offerings:

    http://www.comparethebox.com/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Porkies perhaps?

      Age, Car, Estimated Mileage and 3rd party or fully comp please

    2. Steven Raith
      Joke

      what insurer?

      Ogi, what insurance company did you get the classic cover with? I'm a 29 year old who's had his license for 18 months, been driving for work daily since passing, and i'm paying £600 to insure a Micra.

      When I was looking at classic , I could only get it on a second car, not my main car...are you only running the classic? I wouldn't mind a BMW E30 325i wagon as a weekend/workhorse car...

      Steven R

      Joke Alert, because that's what my premiums are. A joke.

      1. Rob Daglish

        Gonna really upset you now - Adrian Flux insure my 6.2 litre V8 Rolls Royce for £129 per year, unlimited mileage and any driver over 25.

        I wanted to insure an MX5 as a weekend/nice weather car they wanted around £700 per year for that as I can't get classic insurance on it, and as my day to day insurance for a 2.2Diesel Jagdeo is in the region of £700 I'm going to sell it an buy an old XJS convertible...

      2. Ogi

        Sorry, didn't realise I had to actually respond to your post directly. My post is here if you're still interested: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/1198280

        1. Steven Raith
          Thumb Up

          thanks

          Cheers Ogi, that makes for interesting reading.

          It's now a case of finding something classic that won't kill me on running costs and that I'd trust to take me 600 miles in a weekend without dropping it's guts on the A1M at 80mph (in 2013, officer).

          Time to cruise Auto Trader and Piston Heads Classifieds....again!

          Steven R

          PS: good choice on the 944, mate had one, we had a memorable trip from Reading to Anglesey, including some sideways time on track, lovely cars....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Classic Car Insurance

      Thats great, unless theres a low annual mileage restriction? usually 4000 miles or less per year? Check the assorted paperwork, it could be in there somewhere. Thanks to the FSA extras!

  37. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
    Headmaster

    Ogi:"buying a 1982 sports couple"

    Wow! Is the 300 squid"'viewing" or for "participation" in the sports??

  38. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Cars already have black boxes

    The airbag units record quite a bit of information including near deployments, etc.

    Insurers and police have been known to use the data to decline payouts or in prosecutions - in one case I can think of a driver was convicted of dangerous driving after the airbag unit recorded the car was travelling in excess of 100mph in the minutes before the crash.

    When you make a claim the car is handed over to the insurers - at that point they can do what they want with the data.

    The online monitoring units are only useful inasmuch as drivers are aware they're being monitored and adjust accordingly. They could just as easily be a lump of wood as long as the driver believes it's an electronic box of tricks.

  39. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    No

    To answer the tagline, no, because if my insurer knew how I drove he would charge me more, even though I have 8 years no claims.

  40. Armando 123
    FAIL

    Would you let your car insurer snoop on you for a better deal?

    The short answer is "No". The long answer is "*#$% no!!!"

  41. Spider
    Big Brother

    thin end of wedge

    whilst I understand the need for youngsters to find ways of both lowering premiums and encouraging safer driving, how long before it permeates? people get used to it, so instead of lowering premiums, people without them become penalised. Finally a majority have them fitted and of course they become justified because they save childrens lives (please think of the kiddies!)so then they become mandatory and the final step is that the data becomes available to the authorities... obviously with a warrant.. well to begin with anyway, but you know, the companies operating license is up for renewal and have you been helpful to the plod?...

    .. i'll get my foil lined coat.

  42. Paul Landon
    Thumb Down

    Taken Down And Used Against You

    This is an example of injustice where the slurped data would be used against you but rarely used in your favour.

    It could be used as an excuse not to pay out. eg. "You were doing 71mph at the time of the accident!".

    Insurance companies are like Bookmakers but welch on their bets more often.

  43. secondtimeuser

    I'm already on this insurance.

    I'm already on the Co-operatives Implementation of this insurance. Some background info:

    - 23y/old male

    - 3yrs no claims bonus (ie, no claims since starting driving)

    - Skoda Fabia estate, 1.2, no modifications, 54 plate.

    - I pride myself on not driving like a tool. I stick to speed limits, I corner smoothly, I accelerate gently and brake responsibly. Compared to most of my contemporaries, I can probably be called a pretty good driver.

    Had been with Aviva, insurance premium had gone up from £550 to £820 (fully comp). Direct Line wanted £790. Tried some price comparison jobs, premiums ranging from £900 to £16,000 (yes, that many zeroes). Co-op Young Driver Policy? £440.

    Yes, that few zeroes.

    So, bit more digging, decide to take the plunge and go for it. Chap came round to install the box at my flat, so plus points for that. It's actually about the size of a standard HDD, buried in the dashboard.

    I've got an online interface that shows my scores for the last 30 days (and I've made a spreadsheet logging all of my scores). The four parameters measured are Speed, Acceleration and Braking, Cornering and Time of Day. These are unevenly weighted, by my maths Speed and Time of Day have a relative weight of 0.3ish, Accn/Brk and Cornering 0.2ish. You also get an overall score for each day.

    My main gripe is a lack of consistency. Monday to Friday I'm doing the same journeys at the same times of day, and while everything else is fairly consistent, my cornering score can go anywhere between 2.6 and 5 (out of 5). Also, cornering score seems to nose-dive on any journeys with a motorway-motorway junction (think M5/M42 junction, if you know it) - almost seems as if it wants you to shed a load more speed, even if you cruise round it at a very sedate 45mph-ish. There also seem to be some roads that are just impossible to get a good cornering score on too, such as the A48. If I went any slower round the corners it would be dangerously slow, and yet the best cornering score I've got is 3.5ish.

    Time limitations can be a pain too, though I so rarely drive between 11pm and 6am I just suck up the poor score for that day.

    As for unexpected events, emergency stops are filtered out. Came round a blind corner on a country lane to find a car reversing in front of me, 50-0mph in as short a time as possible and my accn/brk score for the day was still 4.8. It's only repeated heavy braking that will do you over.

    After 3 months use I got a £53 rebate on my insurance, essentially taking my premium down to £390, which blows away every other off I found. Shall be getting my next premium adjustment in a couple of weeks time.

    Overall I'd recommend it, but only if you're a legal beagle when it comes to speed limits and only if night driving is an extreme rarity.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...but the electronics makers (reckon the insurers have all the information they need)" dont give a shite, as long as they buy their wares.

    This is total bolloks and an accurate demonstration of "Never listen to the salesmen".

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great, Now i've got to avoid the twonk taking the corner at 2MPH!

    This makes the roads more dangerous, not safer!

    English wankers know now't.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame...

    ...that this combined accelerometer, GPS, and GSM-backchannel cannot be used for something more productive - like automatically telling the council where all the frikkin potholes are.

  47. adnim Silver badge
    Joke

    Yes I would

    providing I can turn it of when I am pissed.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is not in and of itself dangerous

    Undertaking isn't dangerous?

    Consider that on a motorway the person you are passing on the left can move into the left lane without indicating, which isn't required when moving left, and if you slam into the back of them it's your fault, or your funeral.

    If you're not overtaking you have no business being anywhere but the left hand lane. It's the first rule in the highway code: keep left. And I have no sympathy without anyone getting a fine for being in the middle or right lane when the lane to the left is clear either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If a vehicle moved from L2 into L1 without (i) indicating or (ii) ensuring that it was clear, then that driver would be guilty of Driving without Due Care and Attention (s3, RTA 1988).

      Pity that these gadgets won't do anything to prevent muppets like this...

  49. John70

    Under 25s

    Co-operative Insurance are already offering discounted insurance for under 25's if they have a black box fitted.

    http://www.co-operativeinsurance.co.uk/servlet/Satellite/1228203835143,CFSweb/Page/Insurance-Car

    They had this scheme for some time now.

  50. Dave 15

    Total stuff and nonsense. There is a problem with the ideas suggested - cornering, accelerating, swerving, braking may actually not be dangerous depending on the circumstance.

    For others...

    undertaking is not dangerous - the person being undertaken is the dangerous inattentive buffoon who frankly should be in their car while it is compulsorily crushed. I am SICK to the back teeth of seeing idiot smart arses doing 55mph in the outside lane of a dual carriageway for 15 and 20 miles until it is time for them to turn off and then getting grumpy when my 30 year old car struggles up their inside so I can do 60mph. Oh and BTW I am the wrong side of 45.

    tail gating is usually a problem of frustration at the idiot 55mph driver above - this is commonly used when they are overtaking a lorry that is doing 54.999999999mph - quite often actually two lorries - and the idiot driver reaches a hill and finds is speed reduces to 54.9999999998 mph and he slides back for a few miles before accelerating on the downslope and keeping this going for hours at a time. Again, the answer is not to get upset at the tailgater but to crush the idiot mobile traffic jam.

    Some notably dangerous occurances I see everyday.... I am coming down the slip road, I do not believe that is a giveway line at the bottom of the slip road (go read your highway code - it bloody well is), I don't care that you have no where to pull out into because the lane next to you is blocked, I don't want to adjust my speed to fall into the gap a bit behind you, or accelerate infront of the lorry you are following... no what I want you to do is to risk your life braking heavily while hoping the lorry behind won't crush you so I can just meander off the slip road as I see fit. Frankly don't ever try this with me as I will just keep rolling in my beaten up old car and shove you in the ditch you belong in.

    What we need is more police doing sensible checks on the road, scrap the stupid out of town speed restrictions and cameras (after all, are you seriously telling me that a 190mph superbike is dangerous at 75mph on a dual carriageway but an Ausin 7 with prestretched cable operated rear brakes and no pedal brake on the front at all is safe at 70mph? I hope not - if you are you haven't driven them both, and I have).

    As for a black box in the car - another thin wedge here - for now its about saving insurance, next it will be for collecting tax, then it will be for spying on your every move. The aim of all governments - Labour or Conservative - is to ensure the continued power of the politician by makign sure you have absolutely no rights or power at all. This 'vote' you think you have - do you honestly really believe it changes one thing one jot? What is the difference between the situation now and 3 years ago apart from how ugly the current pinup PM is?

  51. Tieger
    Thumb Down

    interesting idea, but...

    sadly, its pretty much bollocks in a lot of situations.

    say i'm driving along, and suddenly (so says my little box of tricks) swerve to the right into the opposite lane in a place where the road markings say i shouldnt, and then pull back to the left.

    one interpretation (the one i'd expect the insurers to go with) is that i just randomly pulled over to the right into oncoming traffic, or maybe overtook someone in a place the insurer doesnt like, and so hike my premium.

    but it could just as easily be that i was happily driving along, when someone tried to drive into the side of me from a sideroad, but i had fast enough reactions to see there was nothing coming the other way, pull out of the way and go round them, while someone else might have slammed on their brakes and caused an accident (which, technically, wasnt their fault...) as the 40 tonne truck following 10 yards behind them couldnt stop in time.

    out of those 2 drivers, which is actually safer? and which one does the little box of tricks say is a reckless driver who randomly drives in the wrong lane?

    and as someone who works within/for the insurance industry, i can be fairly certain that if they go for this, it'll only be because they can charge more money overall. they dont care about fairness, or treating people nicely, or loyalty, or for that matter about being a safe driver - they care about charging more and paying less premiums.

  52. Dave 15

    Undertaking isn't dangerous?

    Undertaking isn't dangerous?

    No its not. The sort of person that is undertaken is the sort that is NEVER going to move out of the overtaking lane until their junction is imminent. Therefore undertaking them is at most risky at a junction, but never realistically dangerous. Most people I undertake are undertaken with an entire empty lane between them (in the overtaking lane) and myself (in the correct normal lane). The middle (also over taking lane) is usually empty for at least 2 miles.

    As I said, undertaking is not dangerous, although I sometimes wish being undertaken was a capital offence.

  53. K. Adams
    Big Brother

    Over here, West of The Big Pond...

    ... Progressive Insurance (based in Ohio) is already doing something like this. It's a policy add-on option called "Snapshot," and in most cases, it can be used to calculate a discount, but not raise your prevailing rate (the state of Rhode Island being the one exception, where the data can be used to raise your rate by up to 9 percent if Progressive doesn't like what it's seeing). Of course, you must abide by Progressive's Terms and Conditions, which are obviously non-negotiable.

    Personally, I wouldn't use it, even if I were a Progressive customer. There are enough Big Brothers looking over my shoulder already; I don't need another one...

  54. strum Silver badge

    Not exactly new

    I signed on for one of these back in May - Insurethebox are the insurers.

    I saved about £150 (and I'm 60).

  55. earl grey Silver badge
    FAIL

    just bend over and get your black box

    You know you want it.

    You know WHERE you want it.

    You know where the government wants it.

    The insurance companies are just tools.

  56. nichobe
    Thumb Down

    5th Element Taxi scene comes to mind

    What happens if I need to swerve to avoid a mother/child collision?

    Will I then have a bad swerve record that I will need to submit an exemption form for?

  57. Cyclist
    Thumb Up

    How about the twunt next door

    Our neighbour's 17-y-o boy recently passed his test, and has become twat of the decade in next to no time. From being the nice lad who used to live next door he's now a king-of-the-fucking-road idiot who drives up our narrow side road at top speed, giving it big stick through the gears and stopping on a sixpence outside his front door.

    Can I buy one of these boxes and stick it in his boot? Or better still can I buy or borrow a 12-bore from our local farmer and blow his bloody head of next time I see him storming up the road? Please say yes.

  58. kain preacher Silver badge

    @Armando 123

    What ?? Out here the CHP will give you a nice fat ticket for doing 40 in the fast lane. They have given people tickets for doing 55 in the fast lane when the speed limit is 65. No special law needed it , it's called impeding traffic . There had to be some thing else to the ACLU challenge.

  59. ben 29
    FAIL

    If the box has GPS

    It will be useless in my car when the stereo is on.... for some reason if you switch the car stereo on any GPS device in range (up to about 1m from the car IIRC) loses lock. Tested on a stand alone GPS receiver bluetooth paired to a PDA, a Garmin Nuvii, HTC Desire (2 off), Motorola Defy, Sony Ericsson W810i

    Much fun could be had switching the stereo on and off... more likely they would accuse me of tampering with the box :(

  60. Dropper
    Stop

    Not the point

    When a corporate introduces something intrusive that will give you a "special rate" or a free mug or a $10 spa gift certificate please be aware that you are enabling something that will eventually become compulsory, under the "if you have nothing to hide" banner.

    What provides a discount now will equate to "we won't insure you unless you agree to installing this" later. You might even find it becomes law if the right backhanders find their way into politicians pockets, along with prepared speeches about how much the public loves being spied on (after all a whole bunch volunteered to do it) and of course, won't someone please think of the children (sitting in the back seat).

    Paranoid? Yes, but also very much a realist. Watching every little thing we do is the world we're heading towards, so I'd appreciate it if no one volunteers to help some smarmy cunt in an insurance suit charge me more because I refuse to install one of those black boxes.

  61. Martin Usher
    Big Brother

    Realtime Display?

    It will be like those fuel economy displays......depending on what you're doing you'll be in the green or red zone, maybe even the noise of the automatic traffic ticket printer.....

    Its a nice idea but so easy to abuse.....

  62. Dave 120

    Highway code 139

    • only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so

    • stay in your lane if traffic is moving slowly in queues. If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left

  63. Daniel 4

    Would you let your car insurer snoop on you for a better deal?

    Not only no, but hell no!

    It has nothing to do with my driving, either - I had one minor traffic violation my first year driving, and a perfectly clean record for well over a decade (approaching two now!) since. It's all about mission creep, black boxes in my car, and, if the truth is to be known, OnStar. We've already seen that the authorities will take advantage, with secret court orders if necessary, any technology we allow in our vehicles. I'd rather drive a 1970's smoke belching diesel than put up with that.

    -d

  64. LarsG

    This is the Chief Constable...

    'Would you mind awfully if we could have little Johnnys driving data?'

    'Sorry no!'

    'I have a court order in my hand!'

    'No problem sir, and would you like a rub of my........'

    (Not the nine oclock news for the oldies out there)

  65. Ogi
    Happy

    @Steven, Dibbley, etc...

    The Car is a 1982 Porsche 944, 2.5L. Insured with Chaucer classic car insurance. £300 per year fully comp, with no mile limits (but I told them I'd drive less than 10k a year as an estimate) and free 90 day insurance if I take the car to Europe.

    One thing I have is that I bunged an extra £20 a month to my rent and got a flat with a gated parking spot. This probably lowered the insurance a bit (As old cars generally don't have as good security systems against break in)

    Also came with free breakdown cover in the UK. Didn't even offer me the option of the GPS module, and to be honest, I'm not sure where they would stick it. The most advanced piece of electronics in the car is the cassette radio.

    The car is my main driver, it is my sole car (I am a named driver on a friends 2004 VW Golf TDI though, that's £500 per yr, but I don't drive that often). I live in an apartment in London, and only have one parking spot available (otherwise I would have bought quite a few cars by now, including the BMW 635csi E24 ).

    The E30 series should be coming into the category now. I believe the cutoff is 1983 at the moment, so the oldest models should be qualifying as classic any year now.

    Also not sure why I'd tell porkies about this, I don't get much out of making this up and posting it on the net...

    (and if you think this is a porky, you should meet a mate of mine, he managed at the age of 20 to get insurance on a 90's Mitsubishi 300ZX (3.0L Twin-turbo V6) for some really small money. All these years later, I'm still not quite sure how he pulled that one off...)

    I guess the insurance companies figure that if you buy an old car, you know what you're doing, and won't wrap it round the nearest lamp-post (you don't see many chavs driving round in classics).

    Also, I agreed to a high personal excess, it's £750 (about how much the car itself is worth, before I do work on it), but I'm fine with that.

    @Jean Le PHARMACIEN: Lol, typo, Freudian slip? Autospell? Don't have a clue mate.. :P Well spotted though! :)

  66. Florence Stanfield
    Happy

    An insurance firm already does this!

    My 23 year old daughter passed her driving test this year all insurers were asking over £1,500 for her she went with insurethebox who place a black box in her car. This gives her feedback about her driving plus bonus miles over the month for good driving.

    She is happy as without them she couldn't afford to drive.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My 18 yo lad got tracker insurance

    On a small engine Citroen C1 (low ins. group) the first quite he got was £9k. Time to shop around. Got it down to "only" £4.5K, (had he been a girl that would have been £3.5k but he declined the option of surgery). More research required. With a black box (Aviva) and proof of Pass Plus, just shy of £2k.

    Someone (Aviva?) had a black box pay per mile scheme a few years back, that was a fail but the current scheme is OK, there is an annual mileage cap can't recall what but adequate. At renewal we'll look at the co-op (and others) scheme where good driving is rewarded quarterly with a premium reduction - yes I know good driving isn't as simple as stats on aggressive accelleration/braking/cornering and attention to speed limits but those are significant factors.

    There's a web address to view stats (and where dad can find out in which quiet country lane he spent an hour parked, though no information about his passenger - probably just as well there's not a camera feed...). He's on a black-box monitored curfew, no driving 23:00 to 05:00. Fact is accident stats for under 25s esp. male new drivers and 23:00-05:00 are pretty scary. I'm happier knowing that he knows Big Brother is watching. He could lift the curfew by paying an additional £1k premium - but that would be better spent on one £20 taxi trip a week (if necessary).

    As far as his safety goes I'm more concerned about him as a passenger in his friend's car : more powerful vehicle, conventional (full price) insurance, tendency to show off...

    One question I have is: sometimes when on a new stretch of road my satnav doesn't know about it thinks I'm in a field. Wonder how that looks on the monitor stats? Apparently driving at speed in a field might look quite dodgy!

    I imagine the expense of the box and monitoring systems at present probably eliminates the cost benefit for older experienced drivers only paying a few hundred quid insurance but for saving a couple of grand a year while building up a no claims history it's an acceptable compromise.

  68. Roger Mew

    Box of trix

    So, lets establish the situation, :- me driving in the nearside lane on and empty motorway at 95 Mph, other person

    they are driving on a busy motorway at 50 and stop in the middle lane to read a road sign-

    Oh yes seems like thats good, I will loose out,

    So again busy road junction, I am in the offside lane and lights turn green and I zip it quickly across the junction , the other oh yes not paying attention, light turns green and he does not move, car behind bips him, he moves forward slowly as he is in the wrong gear and consequently does not clear the junction before the lights are red, car behind involved in smash and gets done for jumping lights which he was not, just held up by twit. And so on.

    The ONLY way is by cameras recording all and being able to store information that way.

    The fact I zip it away from lights, like to power around corners, get to max speed asap and so on I will get clobbered, poodle around causing accidents, thats OK.

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