Imagine if you were told that you could lower your car insurance and be more environmentally friendly at the same time. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Wrong. Telematics could be just the thing to get drivers moving in the right direction, helping the planet and saving them a few quid at the same time.
What is Telematics?
Telematics is better known as black box insurance. Some insurance companies now offer you the chance to prove you deserve to pay lower premiums by fitting a device in your vehicle that measures how well - or how safely - you drive.
The black box uses GPS systems to monitor your vehicle with you behind the wheel, giving you a personal driver score based on various elements including if you stick to the speed limit, how sharply you brake and accelerate and the time of day you drive.
Drivers often feel they are being unfairly targeted for higher premiums because they fall into categories where the average driver may be at a higher risk of having an accident - most notably younger and older drivers.
Telematics allows you to prove that you should not be merely a victim of statistics by showcasing your driving skills and being treated on merit.
The safer your driving habits are the lower your premiums. But be warned, this may have the opposite effect if you are deemed a particularly unsafe driver.
I'm just one driver, how can I help the environment?
Our personal vehicles are a major cause of climate change.
According to the United's States Environmental Protection Agency, a typical passenger vehicle emits approximately 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, based on a vehicle driving around 11,500 miles per year.
The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels, such as powering our vehicles, overloads the atmosphere. This then traps heat and steadily warms the planet.
The more economically we drive, the less fuel we consume and, therefore, the fewer emissions are released into the environment.
So how does telematics lead to better environmental driving?
By using telematics you are consciously making yourself a safer driver. But how does driving more safely help you reduce emissions? The answer is in lowering your fuel consumption. Having a black box encourages driving behaviours that cut how much fuel you’re burning, which will help reduce your emissions.
Knowing your journey is being monitored, you will automatically feel the need not to speed, understand the need to progress through the gears more efficiently and to better control your acceleration and braking - all of which ensures better fuel consumption.
Liken it to your driving test - you knew you were under constant scrutiny, so you were more conscious of your driving habits. Quite frankly, the better you drive the more money you save - on both insurance and fuel - and the more you help the planet.
Other tricks to help you keep your consumption levels down include removing excess weight, turning off in-car electrics and getting your vehicle regularly serviced.
So, that's telematics?
Not quite. The term telematics covers all areas of technological telecommunications for your vehicle - including satellite navigation.
Using a satnav can also aid your consumption levels by helping you choose the shortest route or warning you of delays up ahead which could lead to you being stuck in traffic, getting nowhere fast but still stuck emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Many fleet firms use telematics to plot the quickest and the most efficient routes for their vehicles. It makes financial and green sense for them, and it should for you too.
How to improve your fuel-efficient driving?
Plan your route - Finding the route that gets you to the location without detours or going around the houses, means less time on the road and less fuel consumed. Stick to the speed limit - This is important when it comes to driving more efficiently and could also lead to you getting money back on your car insurance if you have a black box. Check your tyre pressure - A lower tyre pressure could result in you using 20% more fuel as it tries to overcome the resistance. Get rid of any weight - Less weight means less resistance and therefore less fuel used. Accelerate smoothly - Smoother accelerating could lead to a better driving score and money off your insurance, as well as saving you fuel. Don’t turn the air con on - Open the windows to cool down and reduce your emissions, the air con will use more fuel.