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Poppy monitors users' driving style - and blocks bad road users
Car-share company Poppy has been using a new system to monitor how safely people drive its cars since 1 January, the operator has announced.
Using that data to assess driving styles, the company has already banned around 400 users for unsafe driving.
Poppy, which is owned by Volkswagen distributor D'Ieteren, has been expanding rapidly in Belgium in recent months. It now has a fleet of 1,000 cars in Brussels and 2,000 across Antwerp, Ghent, Mechelen, Lier, Liège and Belgian airports.
The aim of its relatively new technology is to “communicate preventively and raise awareness about dangerous driving behaviour,” according to marketing director Pierre de Schaetzen.
Poppy can temporarily or permanently ban speeders and other unsafe drivers from using its services.
“In the most extreme cases, we can even block the car completely,” Schaetzen said.
“When you manage such a large number of shared cars, it’s your responsibility to ensure that road safety is guaranteed. We didn't want expansion to mean an increase in risk, either for our users or for users on the public highway. But we are not the police – we are not going to impose fines.”
The system also uses facial recognition to check that the prevent blocked users from accessing Poppy with a fake driving licence.
But what exactly constitutes reckless driving is something still being worked out.
“We want to progressively define what is normal and abnormal driving behaviour,” Schaetzen said.
Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt said she was “particularly pleased” by the company’s use of the technology to improve road safety in the capital, and sees the service as a way to improve mobility overall.
“A shared car can be used by 10 to 15 families,” Van den Brandt explained.
“That will provide a lot of space on the streets of Brussels. The advance of Brussels shared cars makes using a car a lot more accessible for people with fewer resources.”
According to Poppy, if someone drives less than 12,000 km per year, it is more economical to use a shared car than to own a private vehicle.