‘Force insurers to report drivers who text to the police’
Campaigners say illegal calls should be reported by insurers, writes Olivia Rudgard
Insurers who know their customers are texting and making calls at the wheel but do not share this information with police have been criticised by a leading road safety charity.
Last week Telegraph Money revealed that British insurers were tracking their customers to see if they were breaking the law by using their mobile phones while driving. Increasingly drivers are tracked via their mobile phones through an app they have downloaded.
Wunelli, a leading telematics technology company, said that the information was used for education and to determine insurance premiums – but that it would not be passed on to the police.
Lawyers said that privacy questions were raised by the data collection – and road safety campaigners have now said that insurers who know their customers are breaking the law should do more to keep them off the road.
Jack Kushner, a spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Manufacturers and tech producers simply must take some responsibility and play their part and help save lives. If insurers and telematics providers are aware of illegal use of a phone, then they have an obligation to inform the authorities.”
The penalty for using a phone at the wheel has recently been increased, in part due to high-profile tragedies involving driver distraction.
Tomasz Kroker, 30, killed Tracy Houghton, her sons Ethan, 13, and Josh, 11, and her stepdaughter Aimee Goldsmith, 11, when he crashed into the back of their car while distracted by his phone in August last year. He was jailed for 10 years.
The Government has doubled the punishment for phone misuse to six points and a £200 fine. New drivers face disqualification.
A spokesman for Wunelli said: “The data collected shows whether a phone call is taking place and whether it’s hands-free or held.
“This is not for the purposes of policing; this is to help insurers encourage drivers not to use their phone at the wheel and in this respect the information is used in the same way as speeding data.”
Jonathan Hewett, of Octo Telematics, another company that is working on providing this data for UK insurers, said that the information would not be passed on to police proactively but could be given to them if requested after an accident.
Insurers revealed they are collecting driver information but not passing it on to police