Use of telematics in vehicles

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The application of emerging technologies to motor vehicles is as old as the car itself; telematics is one of the latest enhancements to the sophisticated electronic control mechanisms which aid us in extracting the greatest possible efficiency, utility and safety from our vehicles.

Possible future insurance scenario: insurance savings linked via telematics to distance and times of travel.

Telematics applied to motor vehicles can allow remote, real-time (or retrospective) monitoring of a vehicle's locations and movements by the vehicle owner or other parties. Vehicle telematics units today can not only provide accurate, continuous vehicle speed and location data but also straight line acceleration, angular acceleration and deceleration datai. This enables a far more complete understanding of vehicle usage which can provide many benefits; not only to the vehicle owner but also to other road users.

Telematics, cars and car insurance

Where telematics data is available from private passenger vehicles it could allow drivers in the future to be charged for insurance on a usage basis. Benefits to the driver may include reduced premiums for lower kilometres as well as savings for driving at safer times. Drivers would also have a real incentive to maintain good driving practices and their good driving performance could be more fairly rewarded.

Allianz has been trialling such a solution with 80,000 vehicles in Europe on a system that has been in operation since 2007. In addition to flexible car insurance charges, the system offers breakdown assistance, stolen vehicle tracking and recovery, and emergency/accident assistance.

Emergency assistance can be initiated automatically - such as when the built-in accelerometer detects a strong impact - or manually by the push of a button. Emergency services will be automatically provided with vehicle location and other information, as well as connected via voice with the driver.

This functionality is in line with that required by the European Commission's eCall system, a telematics system that will be mandatory in new vehicles in the EU by October 2015. The European Commission's announcement of the new eCall requirements cited an estimated improvement in emergency response times of 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside, potentially saving up to 2500 lives a year. In addition, significant reductions in secondary accidents at unsecured accident sites as well as a reduction in traffic accident related congestion is expected.

Telematics could develop interactivity systems between vehicles to warn drivers of dangerous and heavy traffic conditions.

Telematics and the vehicles around you

Work is been done on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) by the USA Department of Transportation with IntelliDriveii to use telematics for interactivity among vehicles and infrastructure. This could allow warning systems to alert drivers of dangerous situations, traffic issues and facilitate more economical use of existing roadways. Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) systems are being investigated as the enabling technology for IntelliDrive, in order for real-time data to be shared.

Telematics is the latest wave of the electronics revolution to bring more features, efficiency and capability to our transportation. As can be seen by initiatives in Europe, the technology can bring safety benefits like automated emergency calling and may even bring on global changes to the way we get our car insurance.

i Magneti Marelli 2012, Telematic Box, viewed 29 November 2013,

ii Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure, Australian Government 2012, Policy Framework for Intelligent Transport Systems in Australia, viewed 29 November 2013,
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