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The Rise of a New DWI (Driving While Interacting)?

New SMA Blog by Mark Breading, Partner, Strategy Meets Action

At CES2020 and the related Consumer Telematics Show (CTS) in Las Vegas, the vision of the fully connected car with a range of in-car digital services was very prominent. Significant progress has been made in implementing devices, apps, and new digital capabilities for the occupants of the vehicle. Some of the scenarios now possible or planned to be in the market in the year 2020 illustrate how the car is truly becoming a computer on wheels, providing all of the interaction capabilities one can expect from their smartphone, laptop, TV, voice assistant, wearables, and other smart devices and apps. In addition, there will be an increasing array of location-based services that are purpose-built for the mobility experience. Here are a few examples:

  • Payments and Commerce: VISA, Amazon, and Fiserv have partnered to enable e-commerce from the vehicle. This would include finding a nearby drive-through restaurant, reviewing the menu options, ordering, and paying in advance – ultimately making the actual drive-thru experience a breeze. Another example is locating a gas station and paying for the fuel in advance.
  • Health and Wellness: New options will monitor vital signs of the passengers in every seat and provide alerts (for example, a fever alert for a baby in a car seat).
  • Information and Entertainment: In-car infotainment systems already offer a rich set of options for music and other audio channels. Video is supported in selected cars in the passenger seats, especially targeted at children. Coming soon is the same mind-boggling set of video streaming services that people are coming to expect via other devices. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV, and other services are sure to extend the streaming wars into the vehicle.
  • Travel and Roadside Services: Telematics devices navigation apps already provide turn by turn driving instructions; construction or accident warnings and suggested reroutings; and identification of nearby service stations, rest stops, and more. Accident response options are starting to be available, alerting EMS, police, and insurers about an accident that has just occurred. Newer options include projections on potential injuries of the occupants.
  • Safety and Vehicle Diagnostics: Maintenance alerts have long been built into vehicles for basic items such as low tire pressure or oil levels. More serious problems with the engine or other systems are also highlighted. Many vehicles now feature ADAS systems that provide alerts for lane assist, guidance for parking, automatic emergency braking, and more.

These and other types of services are either being built into new cars, already embedded in existing cars, or retrofitted into existing vehicles. The ways that the driver or passengers can trigger and interact with these digital solutions are evolving rapidly. Voice is becoming dominant. Multiple display screens are appearing in places like the steering wheel or even jumbo screens spanning the breadth of the dashboard.

All of this is really great except for one thing. No one is addressing the “elephant” in the vehicle: the potential for distracted driving. Distracted driving is already one of the top issues that insurers struggle with today. New safety features (automated driver assistant systems – ADAS) are helping to reduce some accidents, but distracted driving continues to increase and be a contributing factor to many other accidents. The makers of all the new digital capabilities described in this blog are taking great pains to describe how they are using human-centric design and leveraging voice, haptic controls (gestures), easy-to-use buttons, and simple visual interfaces so as not to contribute to distracted driving. But will all of these ways to interact while in the vehicle serve to increase distracted driving? When we reach the stage where fully autonomous vehicles are on the road, all these features will be fantastic. But over the next decade, we may be introducing new acronyms like DWS (driving while streaming), DWB (driving while buying), or just a new generic DWI (driving while interacting). In the meantime, I hope that the whole ecosystem will continue to work hard to address the serious problem of distracted driving.

About The Author

Mark Breading, a Partner at Strategy Meets Action, is known for his insights on the future of the insurance industry and innovative uses of technology. Mark consults with insurers and technology companies on forward thinking strategies for success in the digital age. His inventive methods and his ability to incorporate InsurTech and emerging tech into business strategies are unparalleled. Mark also leads SMA’s research program, has overseen the publication of over one hundred research reports, and directed custom research projects for insurer and tech clients. His thought leadership in the areas of InsurTech, emerging technologies, customer experience, and digital strategies has earned him rankings as a “Top Global Influencers in InsurTech” by InsurTech News and Onalytica and a place in the 10 finalists for the “Top Global IoT in Insurance Influencer Award.”

Before joining SMA in 2009, Mark spent 25 years with IBM, where he co-developed IBM’s Account Based Marketing program and led the global project office to implement ABM across all industry verticals worldwide. Mark has held both technical and business roles in sales, consulting, marketing, and business strategy and has advised insurers around the world for almost 30 years.

He is a frequent speaker at industry events; an InsurTech mentor with the Global Insurance Accelerator; and a frequent contributor of articles to Insurance Thought Leadership, Insurance Networking News, LOMA Resource, and many other industry publications.

About SMA

Exclusively serving the insurance industry, Strategy Meets Action (SMA) is an advisory services firm offering retainers, research, consulting, events, and innovation offerings to both insurance companies and solution providers. Learn more about SMA at

SOURCE: Strategy Meets Action (SMA)