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Telematics will never become compulsory in private vehicles

Chris McClellan, RAM Director commented, "It’s a well reported fact that the introduction of a telematics system to a motor vehicle can reduce accidents (by between 30 and 90%, depending on which stats you read). However, they will never become compulsory in British new cars as some recent reports have claimed, unless a major change in statute is made in the European Court of Human Rights. The simple reason is that without voluntary opt in, consumers will see this as a violation of their privacy and manufacturers will neither want an objection to a sale nor wish to handle the vast amounts of private data produced."

"Driver privacy is key here, no driver is entitled to feel as if “big brother” is watching. Vehicle tracking absolutely works for business fleets when the vehicle, rather than driver, is monitored and for opt-in insurance discounts for which the driver sees a tangible financial benefit and clearly understands why data is monitored. However, handing over all of one’s personal location data to a commercial vehicle producer may feel a step too far for us cautious and private Brits."

Do we need an opt-in for telematics privacy?

Motor companies may wish to install such devices at the point of manufacture, however it will always be the owner of the vehicle who determines if it is activated. As a side point to this, would the manufacturer receive the most benefit from such a device by retrieving data that they may wish to use in an attempt to invalidate a warranty claim?

"A similar system was introduced in Italy last year and sponsored by former Prime Minister Mario Monti, making it compulsory for new cars to carry telematics boxes as a means of halting the rising number of fraudulent whiplash claims. However, there is still only a 3% penetration rate in Italy begging the question; can the system cope as more new cars are introduced? Similar systems have struggled to gain traction in Holland, France and South Africa where concerns over data protection have trumped its benefits."

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