As part of its mission to make safer drivers around the world, Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) is using the next wave of technology to tackle the distracted driving epidemic and save lives. Starting as an MIT project in 2004 and growing to be one of the world’s leading mobile telematics providers today, CMT has found its success in its unique approach to fighting distraction. While acknowledging that technology plays a major role in distracted driving, CMT also views it as a solution to make better drivers. Vice President for Insurance Ryan McMahon explained the company’s goal as, “simple: Make the world’s roads and drivers safer. We believe strongly that technology has a role to play to help drivers understand risk, and our customers use the technology to bring incentives for safe driving behavior.”
In order to build these incentives, CMT focuses on using AI and machine learning to better understand driving behavior. “To combat distracted driving we need to measure it. Yet, the challenge with distracted driving is that, unlike drunk driving, you can’t always determine the same level of accuracy. That’s why we’ve created the technology to affirmatively calculate when distraction happens, showing how often it happens, and where it happens,” McMahon explained. CMT technology powers the DriveWell app, which analyzes drivers’ habits and behaviors behind the wheel in real-time, providing feedback in the app after each trip. Using smartphone sensors to analyze the physics of driving, CMT technology provides individuals with driving scores, taking into account their speed, cornering, braking, and distraction. The data provided, along with the driving scores, offers a clear-cut view of users’ driving behavior, providing an eye-opening experience that makes drivers reflect and improve upon their habits behind the wheel.
CMT’s technology is used by leading insurers worldwide to provide rewards and set prices for customers based on how they drive. “Insurers use data to help them understand risk. Traditionally, that data has been made up of a number of factors that approximate risk, but until telematics was invented, insurers didn’t actually measure how safely someone actually drove. By using telematics, an insurer now has the ability to measure how safe a driver is and provide feedback and incentives for safety. By tying a driver’s behavior to how much they pay, insurers are directly contributing to roadway safety. This is an incredibly fair and equitable system for all,” McMahon added.
Incentivizing Good Driving Behavior
By offering customers to save money on their insurance by using the DriveWell app, CMT has made a win-win situation for both insurers and drivers alike. By using an additional IoT tag, a wireless technology that connects to your smartphone, the company has the ability to ensure that only trips taken in a specific vehicle are measured. This tag is affixed to a driver’s vehicle and links to drivers’ smartphones, recording each drive. Insurers use the technology to measure and build a cumulative basis for a discount. State Farm and Liberty Mutual are among the insurers who use CMT’s technology, and in State Farm’s case, its Drive Safe and Save application has a 4.5-star review on the app store with 59,000 ratings.
CMT technology provides a novel and expansive understanding of distracted driving, being in “a unique position to help reduce distracted driving based on our understanding of how the behavior affects road safety,” McMahon explained. He continued, “We are the world’s largest telematics provider and we have a deep understanding of risk and resulting consequences as we analyze the sensor data from the phone and we also detect and enable emergency response to crashes. We use this information to build models of risk behavior and these models have been approved more than 80 times by regulators in the U.S. for use in pricing. In our analysis, smartphone distraction is the single leading contributor of crashes. Our technology is meant to put a stop to behaviors that lead to these crashes and you can affirmatively change driving behavior by building individualized incentives — whether it be rewards or personal progress.”
CMT has even extended its efforts to individual communities worldwide with safe driving contests. Holding “safest driver” contests at home in Boston and overseas in countries like South Africa, CMT collaborates with corporations and local governments to create “another tool in the toolkit of road safety,” according to McMahon. These contests have proven to be extremely successful; in Los Angeles, just after 35 days, CMT saw a 41% drop in smartphone distraction among participants. In Boston, there was an even greater drop of 47% among participants. These contests have been recognized by the Federal Highway Administration as success stories in using behavioral tools to improve roadway safety.
Continuing the Fight Against Distracted Driving
Through individual and community initiatives to combat distracted driving, CMT has found success in its approach to incentivizing good driving behavior. “Our technology requires people to take action. The more people are aware of saving money and making their communities safer, the more we can help build a future where road safety is incentivized, and is not just an enforcement. We shouldn’t wait for something negative to happen for an individual to improve their driving, our products are being used to measure and build incentives to reduce risk,” explained McMahon. He added, “No one is born predisposed to distracted driving. That means the behavior is changeable, and for us, that’s big. We know if we can reduce distraction, we can make our roads safer and hopefully save lives.”