Earlier this month, a device for reducing the numbers of distracted driving was debuted in Quebec. The RoadBudee is the brainchild of Patrick Dubois, who created the device and its namesake company in the aftermath of a personal incident involving distracted driving.
A piece of hardware and software for the connected car, RoadBudee locks down a smartphone and prevents a driver from being distracted. The potential implications for insurance companies could be profound, because RoadBudee could allow companies to monitor driver behaviour. In turn, customers could receive premium rate reductions.
Speaking to ShopInsuranceCanada, David Bambuck, Chief Information Officer for RoadBudee, told us about the system, how it is installed, and what it could mean for insurance, and plans for the future:
Could you tell us what RoadBudee is and how it works?
RoadBudee is hardware and software. A device that is installed in a car, but it’s also a technology that is a mobile application. So, it is not something to punish the person that has it, but was designed as a device to be interactive and to be dynamic. RoadBudee is your friend, like a dog, your best friend. It will be there when you need it most.
Is installation by a technician a requirement for RoadBudee to function, or can consumers buy the device and install it themselves?
It’s something authorized dealers will install in the car. It’s a product that is turnkey. You will be able to go in a garage and they will install it for you. That’s because it is cutting edge technology and it connects into the computer of the car. We don’t want users playing in the complex systems of their vehicles.
We are in development to have authorized technicians across Canada within the next month. You will be able to take an appointment and get RoadBudee installed.
Once the device is connected to a smartphone, only incoming calls and navigation will work. Is the smartphone completely locked down, or are users still able to reach over and press the home button on their handset and perform other tasks?
Never. When you go in your car, you will connect your phone to RoadBudee. When you plug in the phone, you can start the car. Once you start the car, the phone is activated, but the application takes the lead. Once the car is in motion, the application is set and you can just receive calls and use GPS.
There’s something really cool about the GPS. We are building an online community, so all RoadBudees will sense each other and across the map will be all the other RoadBudees in the area. This is in development, but growing. Every day we have people joining the community. Right now, we have more than 1,200 people and it will continue to grow.
RoadBudee made its debut in Quebec. Are there plans to release it across Canada?
We started in Quebec, but we will be everywhere. In Ontario, across Canada, in New York. Everywhere… We want to be present in the United States, and we want to go into South America, where there are a lot of cars. When you see a lot of cars, there a lot of accidents and RoadBudee can bring car safety to people.
Distracted driving is a major concern. Drivers seem to avoid warnings and even current laws in favour of using devices behind the wheel. Do you think more can be done to combat distracted driving?
Of course. We have received some interesting calls, but tickets are revenue for government. Either they help companies push technology that will save lives, or people can keep dying and have accidents. It is both ways right now, but we are pushing for this technology.
In terms of auto insurance, do you see a device like RoadBudee being an adoptable solution for insurance companies?
Insurance companies are our first or second target because people say they drive, for example, 10,000 km per year. In fact, a lot of people lie to their insurance companies. With our device, we have more than 15 features. One of them will be to know the total distance a motorist drives. So, when you declare your insurance details, the insurer can see the proof from RoadBudee.
When you install the RoadBudee, you could get 15% off auto insurance. This is what we want to do for consumers.
You mentioned expansion, but when can we see RoadBudee in Canada?
The app will be available for Android in the next days. The app for Apple will be launched a couple of days after.