Does the new ‘black box’ incentive help reduce accidents?

‘Black box’ car insurance – otherwise known as ‘telematics’ – is now a rapidly increasing concept within the UK.  It’s basically a type of insurance policy which calculates a driver’s premium based on how (and even ‘when’) they drive their vehicle.  Consequently, if you’re a young driver, or have only just passed your driving test, then a black box can certainly help to keep the cost down quite significantly – provided, of course, that you aren’t tempted to put your foot down or fail to comply with any specific requirements set down by your insurer.

Industry experts suggest that by 2020, a quarter of all insurance policies will use telematics technology in one way or another, so this perhaps goes to show how advantageous this kind of insurance can actually be.

In this blog we take a more detailed look at the ‘black box’ and consider whether they help to reduce the number of accidents on Britain’s roads.

What is a black box?

The black box is exactly what it says on the tin.  It’s a small black device, typically about the size of a SmartPhone which is installed into your vehicle and records certain statistical information such as speed, amount of distance travelled and the time of day or night that you’re on the road.

Many black boxes have built-in features such as accelerometers, GPS and other useful features although broadly speaking, there are two main types:  Journey Data Recorders (JDR’s) and Event Data Recorders (EDR’s).

In fact, for a little box it certainly packs a punch and can quickly provide your insurer with a very detailed profile of your driving habits.  So is that a good thing, not? …

Key advantages of having a black box

If you’re a new driver, then having a black box fitted will certainly attract a number of key advantages.

  1. It should help to reduce your insurance premiums

One of the main reasons people have black boxes installed is to reduce their insurance premiums based on the fact that they’re a “safe” and observant driver. Consequently, provided you don’t take corners like Lewis Hamilton then the little black box should confirm to your insurer that you’re a responsible and careful driver – and with that, of course, comes financial rewards.

  1. It can help if you have an accident – or even if your car is stolen

Since the little black box carefully tracks your every move via satellite it can certainly be beneficial if you’re involved in an accident; or even if your car is stolen, since the vehicle will emit a continual signal as to its whereabouts.

In terms of driver safety, the black box certainly proved its worth for one young driver who, during the early hours of 28th November 2013, was driving home from a nightclub after a night spent with friends.  Subsequent evidence shows that he fell asleep at the wheel causing his vehicle to leave the road and crash into a tree at considerable speed.  However, whilst the driver was left unconscious in a mangled vehicle and with a serious brain injury, his little black box quickly notified his insurers who in turn notified the emergency services and saved the driver’s life.  Suffice it to say, despite the financial benefits of having a black box installed, he now has one for safety purposes too.  They really can and do save lives.

  1. It can help educate drivers

By being able to access information about your driving online, you can quickly identify any areas for improvement.  For new drivers this is particularly useful since it can encourage further tuition on specific areas, such as braking distances or speed awareness.  In fact, many new drivers opt to share this information with their driving instructor as a means of receiving ongoing education.

  1. Other parties can view driving habits

For parents, black box technology is a huge advantage since it can help them to keep a close eye on their child’s driving style and provide positive feedback or recommendations where these might be needed (of course, this can also constitute a distinct ‘disadvantage’ for the younger driver too!)

  1. It’s useful for employers

The black box has already proved itself to be a great asset to employers since it enables better management, helps reduce risk and improve general efficiency, such as changing schedules and routes, providing driver training and even, when necessary, instigating disciplinary action.

Disadvantages of having a black box

As with any other financial incentive, whilst there are many benefits to having a black box fitted there are also certain disadvantages.

  1. Whilst they’re certainly capable of providing substantial savings in the longer term, some insurers will ask for the cost of the box and installation up front – so there can be an initial outlay which is never a good thing, particularly for younger drivers on a budget.


  1. If you tend to cover a lot of miles, then you might not see any savings at all. In fact, you could even end up paying more than you would on a standard insurance policy so it’s certainly worth shopping around and making an informed decision before committing to anything.


  1. If the vehicle is used by different drivers (perhaps within the same family household) then it can naturally be difficult to ascertain who was driving at any given time. What’s more, a younger driver can quickly be penalised for a driving behaviour which he or she was not responsible for – for example, if the vehicle was being driven by a friend or family member.

Conclusion:  So does the black box help reduce accidents?

There can be very little doubt that the black box plays a huge part in helping to reduce the number of accidents on Britain’s roads.  This, of course, is largely due to the fact that the driver is aware of the box being there and that their driving style is being constantly monitored by their insurer.

Whilst many young drivers initially use the black box to reduce their insurance premiums, many drivers still opt to use them as a means of keeping check on their driving habits and that can only be a good thing in terms of helping to keep our roads much safer.