In the last decade, technological developments in cars have seen them become more convenient, more efficient and, in some cases, safer to drive. These technologies can benefit new drivers in several ways.
For new, young and inexperienced drivers, insurance premiums can be a significant expense. Other costs, such as fuel and maintenance, can also begin to mount up, especially if you’ve already stretched your budget to afford a car in the first place. Fortunately though, by investing in a vehicle with additional devices or installing some of these technologies in your car, you can drive more affordably and safely.
Here we look at a few examples and examine how these can benefit new drivers.
A number of insurance providers now offer a policy featuring ‘telematics’ technology. For the uninitiated, this involves having an electronic telematics box or device discretely fitted onto your vehicle, which measures the way you drive.
Despite their relatively small size, these boxes can do a number of complex tasks. They can record the speed at which you drive, how you actually drive your car – which includes aggressive steering and braking – how often you drive your car and where you drive it. All the information it gathers is then sent back to your insurance provider. In some cases, insurance companies also offer smartphone apps with these policies that allow drivers to also see this data. What’s more, a number of them score or rate your driving and feed this back to you.
By having a telematics box, new drivers can be offered reduced premiums as they essentially ensure you’re driving in a conservative manner, within the speed limits and within the mileage and circumstances your policy determines. According to a recent BBC article which looked at research by Consumer Intelligence, such technologies have meant ‘drivers aged under 25 have seen the average premium fall by 5.5%’.
Another benefit is that the necessity to drive more conservatively can work towards improving your fuel economy and help to reduce overall wear and tear. In other words, drivers could theoretically get more value for their car in the long run. Some insurance providers even offer incentives, such as discounts, for consistent high scores and safe driving.
A large number of vehicles made in recent years across various manufacturers feature impressive on-board computer systems to assist drivers. These systems can have an array of different functions to make driving more convenient and straightforward, plus many offer diagnostic tools to help with the maintenance and running of your vehicle.
One example is Ford’s SYNC systems, found in their range of cars, such as the Ford Fiesta, Focus and C-Max. The first SYNC system was introduced in 2007 and over the years it has become more sophisticated, with additional upgrades.
Just a few of the features available include a dashboard screen that breaks down vehicle performance, covering miles per gallon, the miles you’ve covered and more. You can also have voice-activated commands to operate and control aspects, such as climate settings, radio stations, sound levels and music devices. Depending on your systems, there could also be touch-screen connectivity, Bluetooth, dashboard satnavs and a vehicle health report, which highlights any issues and reminds drivers when a service or MOT is due. All of these offer help, through convenience or by pointing out vehicle problems you might otherwise miss.
Similar systems can be found in other manufacturers which have equally useful driving assists. BMW, for instance, use the iDrive system in several models, which again controls lots of onboard features and has vehicle maintenance checks. It also comes with other driving assists for added safety, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and night-vision, front-mounted cameras.
Another useful tool in modern cars is the smartphone connectivity they offer – a perfect fit for today’s smartphone generation. As well as the aforementioned telematics apps, many vehicles allow you to link your phone to your car.
Skoda, for instance, has Bluetooth connectivity. It stores your contacts and allows you to call people and speak to them hands-free, when paired with your smartphone. You can also play music and other media through your smartphone, again offering a more comfortable and convenient drive. Such connectivity can also be found in many other makes and models.
If these innovative creations have interested you, then when you’re browsing for your first or next vehicle, or when you’re shopping for insurance cover, be sure to consider some of these options before you make your purchase. Over time you can reap the financial benefits and be much safer at the same time.