The Driver Next to You Is Using Their Phone & Insurers May Already Know It

A startup called Zendrive is on a quest to gather details on American driving habits. The traffic data company is focused on combating one of the most dangerous practices behind the wheel: driving while using a phone. Now, Zendrive is sharing its findings in the hopes that it will make others more aware of the behavior on the road.

Besides being eye-opening, these statistics could inspire drivers to employ safer driving habits. Insurance companies are using this data to determine premiums and provide discounts to drivers who are willing to consent to the monitoring of their driving. So, if you’re involved in a car accident, data collected about your driving habits might be a needed piece to the puzzle of proving fault and identifying unsafe drivers.

How Zendrive Collects Its Data

Zendrive was founded in 2013 by Jonathan Matus, a former mobile application designer for Facebook. After spending his career creating an addictive user experience on Facebook, Matus is now figuring out how to undo his work. Zendrive collects driving data through an application which uses a phone’s sensors to collect critical driving habits.

In the past, researchers needed specialized equipment to collect the information Zendrive uses. In the age of the smartphone, Zendrive can monitor driving habits simply through the phones in our pockets. Today, 60 million phones are using Zendrive software to track driving habits. The company offers its analytics to vehicle fleet operators and insurance companies.

Zendrive’s 2018 Distracted Driving Insights

For the last two years, Zendrive has taken the data its technology has collected to release a comprehensive report of the driving habits of its users. After examining its 2018 data, the company established that distracted driving might be much worse than any government research has found.

After 100 billion miles of driving data, Zendrive found the following:

  • 69 million drivers use their phones while driving
  • 60 percent of people use their phones at least once while driving
  • During any given hour, about 40 percent of those behind the wheel interact with their phone
  • In some instances, behind-the-wheel phone usage spikes to 72 percent of drivers

With an estimated 69 million drivers using their phones behind the wheel, the Zendrive data eclipses numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which estimated that only 660,000 drivers used their phones behind the wheel. That's more than 100 times more drivers than what the agency originally found.

How Insurance Companies Use This Data

According to Bloomberg, the services offered by Zendrive and its rivals TrueMotion and Cambridge Mobile Telematics are changing the way that insurance companies function. Since distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, insurance companies are turning to driver behavior analytics to help dictate policy premiums. Some insurance companies now offer considerable discounts to drivers who voluntarily submit their driving data.

The theory is simple: why punish good drivers for the bad driving habits of others? According to TrueMotion, drivers who are shown their driving habits reduce their distracted driving by 20 percent. Another study found that drivers who regularly view their own driving statistics reduced their distraction by 35%. In the 21st century, distracted driving is more of a problem than ever. However, technology may finally have figured out a way to keep people accountable to themselves and compel them to put away their phones while driving: just get them to look at their own behavior in a digital mirror.

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