Ross: As cars release driving data to insurance, is your driving my business?

Mar 18, 2024, 6:32 AM

drivers data insurance...

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

According to The New York Times, insurance companies have been collecting data from internet-connected cars, and jacking up the insurance rates of lousy drivers.

The article told the story of a driver here in Seattle who noticed that his insurance rate had jumped 21%. When he investigated, he learned his insurer had based the higher rate on data from 640 car trips! Based on the number of sudden stops and quick accelerations, he was riskier than they thought.

Like a lot of drivers, he found this intrusive. And that’s what I want to examine.

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Every move you make, every swerve you take, every lane change you fake, every sudden brake – someone’s watching you. Do we as drivers have a right to keep our driving data private?

I would say that WHERE and WHEN we drive – unless you’ve committed a criminal act – is nobody’s business. But I would say that HOW you drive needs some kind of supervision. Once we leave the driveway, we’re on public display, in control of a powerful machine on highways that are typically crowded and are perpetually under construction.

And there are some drivers who just can’t handle it – impaired judgment, short tempers – we see them every day. I blame some of it on television ads showing pit maneuvers in the desert. Like driving is supposed to be fun!

Well, maybe in the desert it’s fun, but around here driving is a job where the health and safety of a lot of people is at stake. And pretty much the only way to assess who’s good at that job and who isn’t is to track their driving habits. The highways can’t be a place where misbehavior hides behind anonymity. We have enough of that on the internet.

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So yes, I know it feels like an invasion of privacy, and I wouldn’t use that data to allow the cops to automatically arrest you, but if you’re worried about your insurance company getting objective data on how you really drive … maybe it’s time for an ORCA card.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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