Any traffic accident that results in a death is tragic, but when those accidents involve children, the results are even more shocking and sad. And unfortunately, these kinds of accidents are all too common in Canada and other parts of the world. Now, though, a Swedish company has developed an app aimed at reducing these fatalities specifically, and that, in turn, could have a major impact on auto insurance nationwide. It’s certainly something that brokers and agents might want to consider discussing with their clients in the near future, as it could help them to save both lives and money going forward.
Data shows that a child pedestrian is injured or killed by an automobile about eight times a day in Canada, on average, but these incidents are most common between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., when school lets out and rush hour starts, according to a report from Insurance Business Canada. However, some insurers in Sweden are testing out a new technology that would potentially make the roads safer during these times, and perhaps overall.
What’s the idea?
In fact, this innovation is actually quite a simple tweak of existing technology, the report said. A major insurer in Sweden is now pushing an app called Slow Down GPS, and automatically switches the voice on GPS navigation to that of a child any time the vehicle is in the vicinity of places like schools, playgrounds, and day care centers. The idea, obviously, is that this might prompt drivers to approach things behind the wheel with a little more caution, because it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that there are likely to be kids around.
Developers of the app are currently in talks with principals and other people who work with children about where and when kids are most likely to be crossing the street, or playing by it, the report said. However, the reason schools are such a heavy focus here is that it’s not only the sheer number of kids they have, but also the fact that their parents can drive a little less cautiously around schools because they’re in a rush to get to work, soccer practice, or other things, and may not be paying as much attention to the road as they should.
Currently, though, the app is only available in Sweden, Norway, and Finland, the report said. However, the insurer believes that it may become available in other countries – potentially including Canada – in the near future as well, because an online campaign is already under way to make that happen. If not, the insurance company hopes that those who don’t get access to Slow Down GPS will “steal this idea from us” and use it as a means of helping make the streets safer for kids.
So by adding a child’s voice to normal GPS apps, the hope is that this will make drivers – specifically parents – far more cautious in these areas by targeting a caretaker’s instinct, the report said. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that people react with greater care when they hear a child’s voice, on a baseline level, and harried parents in particular may be able to come down from whatever high nerves they’re experiencing with that reminder.
However, it’s important to note that insurers will probably have to push their clients to adopt this app even if they are able to introduce it in the near future. For one thing, many GPS direction apps are already in widespread use, and consumers are nothing if not stubborn about the technology they use in their everyday lives. Moreover, if they know the areas in which they’re driving – and if they’re dropping their kids off at a local school, chances are they know the route like the backs of their hands – they may not necessarily be likely to use the app for those trips. For this reason, it may be necessary for insurers to incentivize the technology, at least initially, as a means of getting people to become comfortable with its use on a regular basis.