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Black box that's saving young lives and money

IT'S a Godsend for anxious parents and is sure to prove a life saver for many young drivers.

Imagine a device which monitors the driving, acceleration, braking, cornering speeds and whereabouts of the vehicle at all times and even supplies a picture of the street where a misdemeanor occurred?

Well wonder no more -- it's here and available to Irish motorists.

More Big Mother than Big Brother, the black box-type gizmo, called 'telematics', records all the vital data and uploads that detail onto a website where mum or dad can keep an eye on their children's behaviour on the road.

Now, there is more to this technology than merely spying on the kids -- it will save many young drivers, especially women, a fortune in car insurance. Thanks to Eurocrat interference, young women can no longer benefit from cheaper cover because it's deemed sexist.

Forget the statistics which clearly show that young teenage males are 50pc more likely to be in a collision than their female counterparts.

Anyway, since the legislation came into effect this year premiums have rocketed by over 25pc. At least one company had increased its rates by over 100pc for a 17-year-old female driver from €1,540 to €3,150 for the same car.

Her 17-year-old male counterpart had his costs reduced by 27pc from €4,317 to €3,150.

So with the odds stacked against you, maybe its time to prove beyond doubt to the insurance companies that you are safe and therefore should get a cheaper premium.

Telematics is already a huge hit in the UK where some firms are offering discounts of 50pc. The system is based on a monthly analysis which corresponds with your direct debit -- basically drive safe and get the discount, misbehave and pay the full price. Simple.

We tested the system over Christmas and the results were astounding. All journeys are judged on the traffic light system -- green for good, amber for average and red for dangerous.

Now, bearing in mind that it picks up bad habits and a certain amount of bending the rules is needed, I admit to deliberately exceeding the speed limits a tad.

Yes, the 130kph in the 120kph was duly noted but because the excessive speed only lasted for 60 seconds over a 55-minute journey, the trip stayed in the green. But a surprise lurked.

I was shocked to learn that one trip in which I travelled only 0.4 km proved to be my sackcloth and ashes.

In those five minutes of madness I managed to hit 60kph in a 30, cut a corner and accelerate aggressively in between speed bumps.

A detailed map of the trip, the time, date and a picture of the said cut corner had me bang to rights. Guilty as charged, m'Lord!

AXA have recently got behind the drive, offering a 20pc discount for drivers with the device. Supplied and fitted by Co Down firm Crash Ingenium, it costs €299 plus VAT. After that, annual renewals cost only €120 plus VAT. A no-brainer for young drivers.

For more information visit www.crashingenium.com; call 01 524 5004