Drivesmart column: What I’ve learned from a year of driver monitoring

Over all, I’m pleased that I have taken the time to use the app.

By Tim Schewe

I’ve been driving with eDriving’s Mentor app for about a year now and know that it has made improvements in my skills. I haven’t cracked the top 10 per cent barrier yet, but I’m still trying! The secret to having a high score appears to be trying to anticipate and plan for what is happening around you as you drive.

Speed is the simplest of the driving tasks to follow but does present its challenges. The riskiest of them is the tendency for other drivers to crowd your back bumper. Why some drivers feel the need to do this on multi laned highways is a bit of a mystery to me.

I wonder if telematics can use the automatic emergency braking system on newer cars to monitor this?

Sudden braking incidents can be prevented by maintaining an appropriate following distance and watching the status of traffic lights as you approach the intersection.

Is it a stale green light? Preparing for the stop doesn’t cost you anything as you are going to have to stop anyway. In fact, it can save you money in the long run by reducing wear on the brakes.

Drivers who fill in your front safety margin and then brake to get ready for a turn or make another lane change mean keeping an eye out behind and beside you as you drive. It would be helpful if they thought about signaling their intentions but the majority seem to signal as they move.

Heavy acceleration has not caused any black marks for me since the first one. I’m never in a hurry to be the first vehicle into an intersection after the lights change and I have not had to take evasive action to prevent a collision, yet.

Smooth lane changes are an easy score. Plan ahead, mirror, signal, shoulder check and change. Simple. Again, I’ve never had to make a sudden move because of the actions of another driver, yet.

The last behaviour that the app watches for are sharp turns. Experience, advisory signs and familiarity with your vehicle are a great help with this. When in doubt, too slow is better than too fast.

I’ve mentioned a potential reduction in vehicle maintenance already but there is another way the app helps pay its way. Driving for a good score is also driving for economy. Fewer dollars spent on fuel are healthy for both your wallet and the environment.

There is no doubt in my mind that ICBC will eventually be using driver telematics to set insurance rates. Practice now will make it easier to save money on my insurance bill in the future.

Mentor also supplies me with video training tailored to my driving habits. I’m a bit behind in watching the videos, but I’ve both learned something new and reinforced prior knowledge with them.

Over all, I’m pleased that I have taken the time to use the app. I think that it has made me a better and hopefully safer driver.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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