Telematics helps identify Northern Ireland’s safest young drivers

12.00 | 19 February 2014 | | 6 comments

A Northern Ireland-wide competition to promote safer driving skills among young people concluded earlier this month with an awards ceremony at Stormont, home of the country’s elected assembly.

Grace Somerville, who attends St Mary’s College in Belfast, took the inaugural title of Northern Ireland’s Safest Young Driver as well as £1,000 towards her motoring costs following a test of her driving abilities using in-car ‘black box’ technology provided by the accident services provider CRASH.

The competition was organised by CRASH with the support of the country’s further education colleges and universities.

Grace was one of 14 finalists shortlisted from more than 400 entries from across Northern Ireland. The finalists, aged between 17 and 21 years, proved their skills over 10 weeks using data collected by the Ingenium Dynamics technology which was installed in each of their cars.

Tony McKeown from CRASH said: “Young drivers are often unfairly labelled as potentially more irresponsible or unsafe on the roads, and while there is still much work to be done in encouraging safer driving among this key age group, we are absolutely thrilled by the overwhelming response we have had to take part.

“It just goes to show that our next generation of drivers are keen, willing and able to embrace safer driving right from the start – and that’s something to be encouraged.

“Grace has proven beyond doubt that she was not only aware of the rules around safer driving but was an extremely cautious and alert young driver and quite rightly earned her place as Northern Ireland’s first Safest Young Driver.

“This was the first year of this unique, awareness-raising scheme and we look forward to developing it further for next year.”

Speaking at the awards event, Mark H Durkan, Northern Ireland’s environment minister, said: “I welcome the efforts that these young people have made and am keen to learn how they have progressed during the competition and if telematics has the potential to improve road safety.

“My department has undertaken to carry out research into the use of telematics products, and I remain open to the possibility of embracing this technology.”


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    Black box data – spies in your car. How appropriate to trial the young people into accepting tracked surveillance as the norm. Why not trial the over fifties – or do they know too much?

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
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    I have become tired of “the prettiest girl in the world”, “the fastest runner in the world etc that are never suffixed by “as far as we know”. In this present example, being “the safest young driver in Ireland” is unlikely – what about the tens of thousands who did not enter? And in any case being “safe” cannot be measured by black box data because being safe is not only about one’s own driving but also one’s ability to recognise and avoid problems caused by others or indeed by mother nature.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Great idea. Good that young drivers have a carrot rather than just sticks.

    pete, liverpool
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    I’m hoping there is more to it than Duncan suggests – perhaps someone involved could enlighten us?

    If there were 14 finalists, I presume the data from the winner’s vehicle must have dmeonstrated something that the remaining 13 didn’t(?).

    Either way, praising someone’s driving like this is a good way of getting them to take an interest in their driving and continually improve and whilst peer pressure is often cited as a negative influence on young people’s driving, perhaps it could work to the good if the young lady’s friends and family ‘look and learn’ from her.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Shorn of context the data gathered by this equipment can only give a value based on an idealised model of driver activity and so to say it gives evidence of ‘safe’ driving is pretty far from the mark.

    By recording speeds and accelerations the equipment will show that a driver can complete a journey without exceeding some nominal ‘G’ value which is typically of the order of .3G in any direction. The great disadvantage of this is that this value pretty soon becomes the limit of their capability and so they soon end up operating at the very extremes of their, but not the vehicle’s control envelope.

    Operating at the extremes of a control envelope is OK so long as the driver knows that they are operating at or near the limit, but I fear that these bright, shiny youngsters are being lulled into a very false sense of security by being told that they are a safe driver when nothing could be further from the mark.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    At face value this is reassuringly good news, although I would be interested to know what data was collected from the vehicle and how comprehensive it was in building up an accurate picture of the driver’s behaviour. Was it compared to a set of ‘model’ data for instance?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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