Beeminder Forum

Becoming a Better Driver using Auto Insurance's Tracking Device and Monitoring

Back in February, I decided to join my Auto Insurance’s “discount for tracking your driving” program. (It’s Liberty Mutual’s “Right Track” program.) I think there’s an opportunity to use something like this integrated with Beeminder, which I discuss at the end of this post.

They send you a telemetry device that you plug into the car’s computer console, which in the USA is a standard port on all cars, easily accessible under the driver’s dash, near your knees. It then gathers telematics data for 90 days, including the following information: Braking, Acceleration, Night-time driving, Total miles driven. Their incentive is that you could gain up to a 30% discount on insurance. They also have a website that you can log into and see what your current progress is, and whether or not you had “adverse events” such as quick stops, quick starts, etc.

So I signed up for the program because I realized this was an opportunity to gamify behavior modification for me to improve my driving habits, which were not the best. I consider myself a generally above average driver from a technical point of view, but I knew that my speeding and other bad habits had put me into a risky driver category, personally speaking. They sent me the telemetry device and said I needed to plug it in within 30 days.

I decided not to plug it in right away, but rather, to take a month to prep in changing my driving habits. I created a checklist that I would go over EVERY SINGLE TIME I got into the car. I downloaded the app “velociraptor”, which shows your current speed, the current speed limit, and beeps when you go near or over it.

My checklist grew over the next 30 days and then even more over the next 90 days as I learned from mistakes. Here’s some of the items from my checklist:

  1. Leave Steering wheel covered (with manila folder that says “CHECKLIST”) until done with checklist. Put back on wheel EVERY TIME you put car in park.

  2. Get “copilot” agreement on all rules. No talking during checklist or during first two minutes of driving. Minimize conversation while driving. (Conversation about driving is an exception.)

  3. Seatbelt On. Check Phone Battery Level.

  4. Actively think about what is good for other people while driving. (Long note about how I sometime misinterpret other people’s motives.)

  5. Avoid driving during morning lunch and evening rush hours. (Note: I work from home so I could do this.)

  6. Bluetooth headset on and paired.

  7. Check fuel level. (Unplanned trip to get gas can make me late, which promotes speeding.)

  8. Do I have my wallet. (Forgetting it makes me go back, which promotes speeding.)

  9. Remember, while driving always have plan B in mind.

  10. No u turns in street while garage sale shopping (I did this and my percentage discount went down).

  11. Notate current mileage and right track discount (so I can tell if something I did during last outing caused an increase/decrease in discount).

  12. Always be looking ahead for: 1. next slow down, 2. next traffic light, 3. Next turn on route.

  13. If a car passes by you fast, put your foot on the brakes (avoids me getting offensive, also protects me from having to brake hard due to someone rushing ahead and making a quick turn in my lane).

  14. No aggressive driving, allow other people to be rude, just slow down. No ego during driving.

  15. No phone used during driving.

  16. Apps On - Turn on Velociraptor and Waze. Turn up volume on phone so I can hear beeps. Set accessibility zoom to zoom in on current speed and speed limit indicators.

  17. Turn on cruise control for easier speed limit driving.

My discount started at 25%, went down a bit, went back up to 25%, and near the end went down to 22%. I think the loss in discount percentages was due to a little bit of accidental speeding and some extra miles I put on the car. (Note that I don’t drive much AT ALL. I have no idea how anyone could get a 30% discount using this system.)

And I must say, I’m a totally different driver now! I pay much more attention to the speed limit, take my time more, and am less aggressive, much more defensive. However, my concern is that without the RightTrack system in place, I might slowly drift back into some of my old ways.

Of course, my interest would be to permanently integrate something like this with Beeminder. There’s quite a few apps and devices already out there, targeted to consumer-level, parental monitoring of teens. (See Google Search: teen vehicle driving monitoring.) Signals from such an app or device (such as texts, email alerts, or an api) could be used to signal Beeminder.