I recently switched car insurance companies. I was happy with the rate I got. Soon after, I received a device to monitor my driving in the event that I wanted to try to qualify for a discount on my rate. I did not care about trying for a discount so I ignored the device – until a parade of insistent emails arrived to remind me to install the dongle in my car. Long story short, the dongle has been installed in my car and I haven’t been this miserable in years.
Literally since the moment I put the thing in place, a series of animals and people have blithely stepped in front of my car. Yesterday, it was two geese that raced to the curb to amble into the path of my car. I was going slowly because I saw them coming, but when I stepped on the brakes at about 5 miles per hour, a gentle beep-beep-beep rang forth from the dongle. Busted!
Last week it was an elderly woman walking on my street. She drifted rightward and, with an apparent utter lack of peripheral vision, right into my path. I was already going slowly, yet when I touched the brakes in utter disbelief, I again heard the beep-beep-beep that berated me for my poor driving. I’m a bit concerned that if I actually jammed on my brakes, the warning system would approach the level of tornado siren.
My kids absolutely love driving with me now. They ride along and laugh as a series of clueless creatures, including a bird that walked the entire way across the street, place themselves in front of the car. I’m used to it now. I know I’m either going to have to run one of these people or creatures over, or take a hit to my insurance rates via dongle judgment. I’ve decided to opt for choice three and take it out of my car. If they cancel my coverage, so be it. This is just not worth it, especially since I didn’t want a discount in the first place.
So what do these driving trackers do – or not do?
- It can’t tell if you’re speeding. Since there is no GPS in the dongle, it cannot tell if you’re speeding because it doesn’t know where you are. Without knowing where you are, it doesn’t know the speed limit.
- It does know if you take off from a dead stop at a high rate of speed. I haven’t done it yet so I’m not sure what it does, but I assume if you go from zero to 60 in ten seconds, you’ll be treated to the beep-beep-beep.
- Similarly, it does measure the pressure you exert on the brakes when you stop. I’ve read that it records instances where you stop while going 7 mph or more. I’m here to tell you that it’s absolutely not the case. You can be coasting and apply pressure and it dings. I’m convinced it’s how hard you step on the brake.
- There are numerous accounts of the ways in which the dongle, when installed in your car, comprises the security of your car. The accounts are not quite clear on what horror can be perpetrated, although it seems the data about your travels is up for grabs.
- It’s also reported that drives at night are a negative when considering a driver for a discounted rate.
I wonder if the insurance companies have considered the potential for negative unintended consequences of their dongles. I’ve now become one of those despicable people who start to break for a light from half a block away. I have said no to my midnight-run-to-CVS loving teen a couple of times. And I have perfected the art of the coast and brake at stop signs. All in all, this dongle on board has made me a less reliable driver while providing my kids with more belly laughs than they’ve enjoyed in years as obstacles throw themselves in front of my car.
I’m pulling the dongle today. And I’m certain that the elderly who lack peripheral vision, the waterfowl who know no better, and the spaced out people in the supermarket parking lot will all stand a better than even chance of making it home uninjured for me having done so. Any discount I stand to gain is not worth my apprehension about the ding-ding-dinging of the dongle as I go about my daily business. My rate will just be what it is.