State Farm Driver Feedback app for iPhoneEnlarge Photo
Remember Progressive's Snapshot program? Sign up, and the agency sends you a device that plugs into your car's onboard diagnostic port and lets Progressive know how safely you're driving. Score well, and your auto insurance rate could plummet. Score poorly, and your rate might go up. Now State Farm is joining the wonderful world of driver-monitoring with a new iPhone app called Driver Feedback.
Driver Feedback differs from Progressive's Snapshot in that it gives drivers direct, immediate access to their driving evaluations, right from their smartphones. Once activated, the app uses the iPhone's accelerometer to generate scores of 0 to 100 in three key safety areas: acceleration, braking, and cornering. At the end of a trip, the app will average the three sums to create an overall score. The app can accommodate multiple users, so you can track the driving habits of your kids or, if you're really adventurous, your significant other.
It's important to note, however, that State Farm isn't requiring customers to use the app (yet), and those who do can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the data isn't being reported back to State Farm (yet). For now, Driver Feedback is an education and entertainment tool, allowing you to see how safe (or unsafe) your own habits are and, if you're a parent or business-owner, monitor those of your kids or employees.
However, now that the tech genie's out of the bottle, we wonder how long it'll be before such devices and apps become mandatory. (We've already seen a push to require related gizmos on big rigs.) Will America's drivers -- and their legislators -- draw a privacy line in the sand before that happens? Or should we be rolling out the welcome mat for Big Brother?