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Motorists being paid to leave their cars at home

Would you leave your car at home if you were paid you to do so? Perhaps not. But it’s something the government of Milan is trying in an attempt to ease congestion and reduce pollution.

The Milanese government has teamed up with insurance agency Unipol and black box manufacturer Octo Telematics to offer €1.50 by SMS per day for those who opt to cycle, walk or take public transport instead of driving – enough to buy a public transport ticket. 

The crux is that your car must be parked at home between the hours of 7:30am and 7:30pm, which seems like a very long time to have a car out of action, and the car must be fitted an Octo telematics system for tracking its location. 

Octo Telematics chief marketing officer Jonathan Hewett said in a Financial Times interview: “Previously, the connected car has been all about navigation, infotainment and insurance. What we’re seeing with this project is organizations from public and private spheres can get together and make life better for Europe’s citizens.” 

It is hoped the “Park Your Car and Go Public” scheme will ease the strain on the traffic-ridden European city. Exactly how effective the scheme depends on whether the monetary incentive is enough.

Marco Percoco, assistant professor of transport economics at Milan’s Bocconi university, welcomed the news, adding that: “Italians are very attached to their cars, even though they are more expensive than public transport and more inconvenient, given the congestion.” 

Insurance companies use telematics systems to track where you go in a car, how fast you drive and various other bits of information, all of which can help lower an insurance premium. Younger drivers tend to benefit the most from allowing insurers to keep tabs on their driving habits.

There is, however, a darker side to black box tracking. Some motorists have been slapped with fines and, in one tragic case, two teenagers died after trying beat an imposed curfew on when they can drive.

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