By Seb Lindner & Tony Kerr
With today’s focus on vehicle safety, it’s hard to believe that many car companies didn’t even include seat belts in their vehicles until the 1960s. Today, drivers want smarter, tech-savvy cars that help them avoid accidents and keep them safe when they can’t prevent collisions.
Popular Safety Features
The greatest advantage offered by the connected vehicle concept is the ability to supply information to a driver or to a vehicle itself to help the driver make safer or more informed decisions, potentially avoiding dangerous situations.
Connected cars can share information with other vehicles on the road. For instance, connected cars can share driving data with each other to choose safer routes. Instead of struggling through heavy traffic, drivers can use internet-based navigation systems to avoid congestion that makes accidents more likely.
Practically every vehicle manufacturer offers internet-ready navigation in new models. These vehicles are internet-enabled with built-in systems. The technology may not come in entry-level cars, but higher trim levels usually give shoppers the option to add smart navigation.
Tech-savvy cars share data automatically. Drivers don’t necessarily have to do anything to make their cars safer. In some cases they just have to trust the technology to make smart choices that will help them stay safe on the road, or to help them if something does go wrong.
Many connected cars feature automatic crash notifications, SOS assistance and/or roadside assistance from the manufacturer or a third-party company. Drivers can initiate these features themselves, but if the car registers a crash-like incident, these safety features will automatically go to work reaching out for help. The peace of mind this offers to consumers is a major factor in making their purchases.
These features of course rely heavily on internet service providers to keep the connectivity functioning in order for cars to stay connected. Unfortunately, BMW and its customers are going through quite the headache because of this reliance right now. All of their vehicles before 2014, and the Z4 Coupe through 2016, had 2G services through AT&T’s network. However, AT&T recently shut off 2G services in order to focus on newer technologies. So drivers of affected vehicles no longer have access to services like SOS, Concierge Calls, and BMW Assist eCalls. This is a great reminder of how reliant vehicles are on connectivity.
Mobile Apps & Devices
Not everyone wants to spend money on a high-tech car that communicates with other vehicles. These days, drivers don’t have to. They have access to plenty of apps on their phones that can make driving safer.
Some of the most useful and popular apps for safe driving include:
Each of these apps takes a unique approach to improving safety.
DriveSync offers a wealth of features designed to make driving easier and safer. It can monitor driving behaviors and give feedback, bring roadside service to a stalled car’s specific location, and even help drivers fill out accident reports.
Vinli is an ecosystem that gives drivers access to more than 40 apps. Since the apps rely on smartphone sensors, drivers don’t need smart cars to use Vinli. Some useful apps within the Vinli ecosystem include Beagle, which tracks teen driving behaviors; Revdapp, which tracks miles and car expenses; and Open Road, which features one-tap calling, navigation and music.
Zendrive uses smartphone sensors to analyze driving behaviors and offer safety suggestions. The app also assigns drivers scores based on their driving behaviors. Someone who speeds, brakes hard and drives erratically will receive a low score. Someone who takes their time and maintains control will get higher scores.
Zendrive is an excellent example of telematics use in connected cars, which can also come in the form of devices installed in the vehicle either at the time of manufacture or afterward. Telematics is the technology of sending, receiving, and storing information relating to remote objects, like vehicles, via telecommunication devices. These device systems record information about driving habits, such as the number of miles driven, speed, brake quickness, etc.
While of course these systems can be built into vehicles, like Tesla does, many third-party devices are available, such as T-Mobile’s dongle attachment and Progressive’s “Snap-Shot” program. And, as discussed, there are a multitude of mobile apps available to consumers at their fingertips.
App developers know that a lot of people aren’t willing to spend extra money on connected cars, so they have made hundreds of options that use mobile devices to improve driver safety. When you know that a customer isn’t interested in paying the higher price of a tech-savvy vehicle, you can make less-sophisticated cars more attractive by suggesting useful apps & devices.
Maintenance Tips for Connected Cars
Connected cars work best when they have the latest software. Updating the software, therefore, becomes a crucial aspect of maintenance. Without the latest version, cars and apps may not know how to collect or share data.
People who own connected cars also need to make sure they have their sensors and video cameras inspected regularly. Today’s top mechanics do more than replace mechanical parts. They can also test and replace sensors that gather information about road conditions and driving behaviors.
For consumers, keeping up with regular engine maintenance is burden enough. Now they must also stay diligent about making sure their connected car features are in prime condition. This is why maintenance information features are so important to smart car drivers – They can rely on notifications from their vehicles when it’s time to update or if an issue is detected, just as they rely on mobile device notifications for all of life’s other reminders and communication.
August 27, 2018