How vehicle telematics affect your driving
You may not be familiar with the word, but telematics probably influence your life in some way every day. Telematics are the computer and electronic technologies located in our vehicles designed to transmit data in real time. OnStar, which General Motors (GM) has offered for nearly two decades, is a good example of what telematics can do: This service connects your automobile to helpful emergency and driver services.
In addition to providing data, telematics also connect the driver and passengers to external sources of information, entertainment, and other services. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are widely used for internal vehicle communications and for some outside Wi-Fi hotspots.
There are two types of telematic systems:
- Embedded — Sometimes called OEM telematics, an embedded system is implemented with a built-in cellphone connection. Embedded OEM systems generally carry a monthly monitoring service fee. GM’s OnStar system is an example of an embedded system.
- Non-embedded — Sometimes referred to as tethered, non-embedded systems tether your cellphone’s wireless network to the vehicle with a cable or Bluetooth connection. Ford’s Sync is a non-embedded system that uses the driver’s smartphone to connect to external sources.
Benefits of a telematic system
- Help when you need it — Whether you have an emergency, need directions or want to make reservations at a nearby restaurant, a telematics system connects you to the appropriate live support. Some systems offer turn-by-turn navigation.
- Convenience when you want it — Many systems offer access to email, weather, traffic reports, stock quotes and even social media.
- Safety all the time — Newer telematics systems can locate or track a car with GPS. Some systems can monitor your car’s diagnostics, detect collisions, and remotely lock and unlock doors.
Some usage considerations
- Driving distractions — This is a critical issue: Although safety is one of the main goals of telematics, as electronics are added to a car, the number of driver distractions increases.
- Cost and complexity — Telematics systems increase vehicle cost and complexity. The new systems add more wiring, and increase power consumption and available user interfaces. The time and cost of repairs and service during the life of the vehicle should also be considered.
The ‟connectedˮ car is a work in progress — evolving technologies promise a range of options in addition to better safety — as long as the driver doesn’t get too distracted.