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We’re all probably familiar with the fact that Malaysia has a serious road safety problem.

There were 521,466 road accidents with 7,152 deaths recorded in 2016, based on statistics by Ministry of Transport, Malaysia. A portion of those numbers could have been caused by unfortunate incidents and unavoidable circumstances yet we can safely assume that the drivers’ behaviour plays some part in it.

The government has begun to take this issue more seriously by enforcing the AWAS and KEJARA system to penalise road offenders who pass the speed limit as well as run through red lights.

But they may require more help. So these 2 Malaysians came up with an app called DraVA.

The Start

The idea stemmed from an unfortunate incident that happened about 9 months ago. Co-founder and CEO, Koh Mui Han, had lost a close friend in an accident. Two lives were lost, devastating friends and family, which pushed Mui Han to do something to help reduce such incidents.

His co-founder Shanmuga Pillaiyan, was already working with him, running their own consulting firm as managing consultants since 4 years ago. The pair decided that this accident along with their desire to explore the local tech startup scene was the motivation they needed to take the big step and create an app.

DraVA was first conceptualised after their idea pitch shone at the Malaysia Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MaGIC) Mega Startup Weekend in May 2016 which qualified them to be part of MaGIC’s Co-Working Space (CWS).

In September 2016, DraVA then participated in the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Fintech Bootcamp where they were part of the 20 finalists pitching at the Demo Day in December 2016, and were voted Crowd Choice.

What The App Does

Image Credit: DraVA

DraVA Driving Coach is designed as a tool for drivers to improve their driving habits by providing feedback after every trip made.

The process goes as such:

  • Users download the app and log onto it. The app will continue running in the background when the user drives above a certain speed limit (30 k/m per hour). This helps differentiate between the driver being in a car compared to walking.
  • Users can also note if they are the passenger instead of the driver.
  • The app will indicate speed limit violations based on specific road speed limits.
  • The location of each violation will be shown along the route taken on a map.
  • Each individual journey is assigned a safety score based on the number and severity of the violations. A monthly safety score is generated to represent a gauge of how safe the driver is.

DraVA uses multiple sensors such as GPS and integrating intel from the gyroscope and the accelerometer inside the smartphone to determine the parameters.

There is also a mentor-mentee function where parents can download the app and register as a mentor before inviting their teenagers to join as a mentee via the inbuilt function. When the teenagers register using the specified reference key, the parent and teenager are automatically linked.

Similarly, driving instructors and driving schools can utilise DraVA where instructors can register as a mentor and their students as mentees. This way, there will be a clear record of all the lessons they conducted for future reference and parents can monitor their teenager undertaking the required sessions.

Future features they aim to implement will be instances when drivers perform hard acceleration and hard braking as well as tendencies to use or play with your phone.

The app is currently free to download on Google Play Store with the iOS version slated to be released in the next 3 months.

Challenges In Insurance

Aside from assisting drivers in terms of recording their behaviour, DraVA is also looking into telematics based insurance but the founders discovered a few challenges along the way.

1) Skepticism 

Insurance companies are skeptical of how telematics can really allow them to reduce their risk exposure. Telematics may be able to provide insights into how an individual drives and it’s critical to the industry to prove that patterns of driver behavior increases accident rate.

2) Lack Of Data Analysis

Another doubt raised by insurance companies is whether this approach is even fair.

There is a general assumption is that hard acceleration indicates aggressive or unsafe driving, which means the drivers are more prone to accidents. But can telematics statistically prove that hard acceleration is the true root cause while eliminating all other causes? There might be a need for a larger data set to have a conclusive result.

3) Privacy

There also comes the issue of data privacy and ownership of the driving data.

“This will be a very sticky point between the insurance customers, the insurance company and the telematics provider. Most of the telematics providers in the market would want to have legal rights and complete control over the data. This may directly contravene data acquisition, use and distribution policies implemented by the insurance companies including strict clauses of sharing or surrendering all of these privileges to a third party,” said DraVA.

4) Costing

The cost of telematics as hardware/device-based telematics will usually exceed the potential savings to either the insurance company or the driver. According to DraVA, the average car insurance policy in Malaysia is about RM600–RM700. Thus it’s difficult to determine how much a customer could save if they’re expected to spend close to RM300–RM400 to purchase and install telematics hardware devices.

5) Liability

Most telematics providers are unable to bridge the gulf between their driving data insights to insurance companies’ motor product-pricing models.

Telematics providers are known to be independent so they can work with all insurance companies. Insurance companies become reluctant to share their pricing models, coupled with the unresolved sticky point of ownership of customer data.

“In our opinion, OBDII and ‘black box’ based hardware telematics will be obsolete in the near future. Auto manufacturers are already producing smart cars running Operating Systems. Higher end continental cars even have propriety telematics built into their cars. The future is smart cars. In the near future, we see DraVA running in smart cars with the ability to utilise the cars’ sensors for detailed telematics,” said DraVA.

To combat some of these challenges, DraVA reached out to several local insurance players to discuss potential partnerships. They plan to propose a collaborative model to run a pilot project for one year.

“During the pilot period, we will jointly collect and analyse telematics data for new customers who sign on to the pilot program. In addition to providing access to our telematics app, we will also help insurers to attract new young drivers as their customers for the pilot program. The pilot period gives us the opportunity to collect targeted data from customers and experiment and verify different risk models with actual data from Malaysian customers,” said DraVA.

Currently, their revenue focuses on in-app purchases such as geo-location and geo-fencing.

We had our own concerns when it came to DraVA in terms of privacy. What if, for instance, local authorities decided to obtain the users personal data to issue summons based on violations recorded by the app?

Mui Han clarified that authorities would not be able to access their users’ personal data unless they pass a parliament act dictating their right in issuing a warrant for this. Currently, the present Personal Data Protection Act offers protection against third parties from using personal data for any other purpose than what it was meant for as stipulated in the terms and conditions.

“Even for the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES), there was a parliament proceeding for that. It wasn’t a unilateral decision by the government. Anything involving public security needs parliament approval. So our users can be assured that we won’t be passing on any information so long as there is no legal act passed for it,” said Mui Han.

DraVA has partnered with Safety Driving Centre Sdn. Bhd., the biggest driving institute in the Klang Valley to provide the Driving Coach app as a value added service with no additional cost to their students.

They’re also reaching our to government agencies such as Malaysia Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) and Jabatan Keselamatan Jalan Raya (JKJR) to promote our agenda concerning road safety because they believe this is a very serious problem in Malaysia.

“What we want to do with our app is to educate our Malaysian drivers to be more courteous and more careful on the road because accidents happen too often. When we first rolled our beta test, within the first 3 hours, both of us got at least 5 speed violations and we are considered more cautious drivers. As Malaysian drivers, we don’t really know what violation we commit on the road so this is why we want DraVA to be a part of it,” said Mui Han to Vulcan Post.

Feature Image Credit: DraVA 

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)