David Beroff (d4b) wrote,
David Beroff

I, for one, welcome our telematics overlords...

Reading user/privacy agreements is often as exciting as watching paint dry, but I did find one nugget in the Drivewise agreement from Allstate: the list of collected data. Among several interesting (to me) points, I finally have an explicit definition of what they consider a hard brake: a deceleration of 8mph (or more) per second.

Cat Lady uses this device to decrease her insurance premiums, and I treat it like one long video game, trying to keep all of the parameters within their respective tolerances to maximize the savings. (Of course, that's exactly what they want you to do.) I would actually prefer instant feedback, such as certain tones (optionally) sounding for each event; the current system can take a day or two (or more, if they're backed up) for data to flow from the car to the telematics device to the whole SMS network to their various series of servers, and eventually to their website.

Allstate updated the agreements to allow adding GPS. (They currently just use the car's OBD-II port and apparently an accelerometer to determine the car's perspective on speed and acceleration.) Certainly there are tons of privacy issues, but I see one major upside to adding GPS: snow and ice. Right now, there's an issue in the winter, where the device senses far more deceleration events than actually occur. It needn't be an extreme, "out of control" emergency, as one might initially imagine, but rather very scaled-down events, where a tire or two hit a small bit of ice or snow. The other two or three tires still have full traction; nothing happens to the car, and most people wouldn't even notice. The problem is simply that the one tire spins faster than does the car, and then suddenly slows down at the end of the ice patch. Bam! A hard "brake" (sudden deceleration) is sensed and transmitted, even though the brakes are never even used. (Oddly, actual brake usage is not tracked for brake events.) This can sometimes happen a few dozen times in a snowy month. If you actually get stuck in snow, this can happen a bunch of times in a single 0.1 mile "trip". (Yes, you can later plead your case to a human, but they're only allowed to take off some, not all, of the events.) My hope is that GPS could confirm that the car itself was well within tolerance the entire time, as GPS's are very good at measuring true speed and acceleration.
Tags: cat lady, travel
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