Road accidents have become more prevalent in recent years, and this can be attributed to different factors. First, the ever-rising number of uneducated or unqualified drivers has made roads more unsafe for all. Another possible reason is distracted driving, due to smartphones, which can be an issue even for the best drivers out there. It only takes few seconds of divided attention for a serious accident to occur.
Of course, every government’s motor vehicle and traffic agencies across the world is working toward reducing automobile accidents and make sure traffic flows freely with little incident. One of the main precautionary measures that lord over highways and streets are traffic laws. Most aspects written in this blog are universal, except for a few differences here and there. For instance, every city and highway have a recommended speed limit for all motorists, and traffic signs supplement and even enforce laws on the road.
Are traffic laws poorly enforced?
Inasmuch as these traffic rules are quite effective when implemented properly, they only tend to work to a certain extent. That explains why car accident cases are still rising at an alarming rate despite each country setting the necessary policies in place. For that reason, it’d be prudent to approach the problem from a different angle.
Other than just penalizing those who break the law, why not reward those who follow it? This approach will encourage drivers to always drive right. The reward can be in form of cash or insurance discounts, depending on the program’s sponsor. Programs such as a good driver token are already a norm in many parts of the world, but other countries are yet to follow this initiative. Want to learn more about good driver token and its impact on road safety? Keep reading! (1)
What’s a good driver token?
As the term suggests, a good driver token is a reward given to a driver for consistently meeting or exceeding expectations in adhering to traffic laws. Following the law may seem easy, but consistently doing so can be a challenge for some people. For instance, one might be tempted to go over the speed limit simply because they’re late for work. One small mistake like ignoring the traffic lights or a Stop sign could spell disaster.
A good driver token is meant to reward those drivers who are consistently on the right side of the law regardless of their personal needs. This can be given by a government agency, an insurance company, or the employer.
Most insurance agencies today have a usage-based coverage which focuses on the driver’s behavior. They have a program that tracks a vehicle’s telemetric data, which includes their speed, acceleration, hard cornering, and hard braking. If you manage to consistently work within the limits set by your government’s traffic agency or insurance provider, you could qualify for a discount or any other form of reward. (2)
Benefits of these rewards
As mentioned, many countries and private agencies are still skeptical of this strategy. However, in the few places where it’s being practiced, good driver tokens have proven to be effective. So what benefits could a driver reap from keeping within the bounds of the law?
Encourages good driver behavior
Some of the leading causes of accidents are drunk driving and recklessness. Unlike natural disasters and mechanical breakdowns, irresponsible driving can be avoided. Driving while under the influence tampers with one’s motor skills and reduces coordination and reaction rates. As such, intoxicated drivers tend to react slowly to situations, and that can be fatal, especially when driving at high speeds.
Obviously, such acts break traffic laws, but many people get away with them. At the end of the day, these drivers have a high probability of causing accidents on highways simply because they were trying to evade law enforcement. Traffic laws were designed to enforce safe road usage, which is a good thing, but laws can only be considered effective when the perpetrators are caught before they cause any harm to other drivers.
With good driver tokens, however, all road users are encouraged to follow the rules even when the authorities aren’t in the vicinity. Since usage-based insurance policies have tracking programs, the relevant agencies would always have up-to-date information regarding the driver’s behavior. Any dangerous move is recorded as demerit points, which are deducted from the score sheet.
The final score can be tallied on a monthly or quarterly basis. Whichever option is selected, the drivers will always look to score high and qualify for cash rewards or insurance discounts. Drunk driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, and speeding can reduce acquired points significantly. As a ripple effect, the road will be become safer for all.
Kicks out reckless drivers
Every country already has a law in place that helps get rid of reckless drivers from the roads, but are these laws effective? To some extent, yes. But then again, these laws are highly dependent on whether the driver will be caught in the act. As such, many of them get away with it and continue driving, which is a risk to their lives and those of other road users.
How can rewards help incentivize safe driving? Well, the tokens themselves won’t do the job but the system used in the whole process. The programs used in to track the driver’s behavior provides just about everything the authorities need to know their skills.
The more a driver breaks the law, the more their points are deducted. The same criterion used to award good drivers should be used to punish those who aren’t consistently adhering to the law. For instance, some auto insurance companies already have a system where someone known for reckless driving attracts more premiums than those considered good drivers.
The normal insurance system only uses raw data like one’s age and gender to record and provide covers. However, by applying a more sophisticated method, those who are prone to accidents will be forced to pay more simply because there’s higher risk involved.
Authorities can use this same system to measure a driver’s roadworthiness. If they score way below the average, their license can be revoked. In the long run, the number of poor drivers will be reduced, hence making the road safer for everyone.
Like any other incentive, auto insurance rewards programs are also faced with a number of challenges. In fact, that could be the reason why many countries haven’t yet implemented them fully. So what are some of their drawbacks?
For an insurance company to fully implement this policy, it must have a way to source the required data. Of course, this involves a lot of sophisticated programs that monitor the driver’s habits.
Apart from investing in the technical aspects of this program, the company must also set aside a given amount of money for the rewards. Not all agencies are financially ready to make this investment, especially now that the world is still recovering from economic crises.
Access to driver records
In some countries, insurance companies are denied access to police records concerning traffic violations. This is an issue that many agencies are still finding quite difficult to overcome. Remember, the whole idea of good driver tokens is to reward only those who meet the requirements. As such, checking one’s traffic violations is one way of ensuring that whoever qualifies for the award has a clean record in the eyes of the law.
Without access to this information, it can be very difficult to properly implement this program. At the end of the day, insurance companies will only rely on what their software collects and not what’s recorded against the driver’s license.
Driving under the influence and reckless driving are among the leading causes of road accidents. Laws have been put in place to help curb those who break traffic rules, but that hasn’t stopped the problem. Laws only tend to prevent road accidents when the violating driver is caught before endangering other people’s lives. Unfortunately, many of them are never caught and end up causing fatal accidents on our roads.
Perhaps the best strategy that can be used to supplement what’s already on the ground is a good driver reward system. The benefit of this program is the fact that it ensures drivers adhere to traffic rules even when they’re not being monitored by the authorities. The ultimate prize, of course, is either a cash reward or insurance discounts, whenever possible. Another benefit is that it ensures that those who score very low and those who commit more traffic violations would have their licenses revoked.
Of course, all these are very effective in ensuring that everyone follows the law and ensures the safety of everyone who shares the road. This idea, however, comes with a number of implementation challenges. First, the cost of putting everything together is very high and not all interested agencies can be able to afford or want to coordinate with insurance companies. Lack of access to traffic violation records may also prove an issue when assessing the drivers’ skill.
1. “California Drivers Awarded Big Bucks For Driving Safer”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshmax/2019/10/11/nationwide-safe-driving-contests-are-reducing-crashes-and-awarding-big-bucks-to-winners-willing-to-be-app-tracked/?sh=162e4a592df0
2. “How Usage-Based Insurance Works”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/usage-based-insurance/