State Farm is conducting preliminary testing on a smartphone application called RightLane that measures driving behavior.

RightLane’s beta-testing is a marked shift in the arena of usage-based insurance (UBI) programs, which typically use an in-car, plug-in device or system like OnStar that track driving behavior such as times of day driven, distances driven and other statistics that are used for possible discounts.

Beta Tests ‘App Functionality’

Under the beta version, which State Farm said is being distributed to test “app functionality,” RightLane requires a smartphone running the Android 4.0 operating system or higher with a factory-installed, Bluetooth-equipped vehicle.

Participants are tested over a period of 120 days in which they will have to drive at least 500 miles over 25 days, which do not have to be consecutive during the 120-day period. After that, completing a survey will net the first 5,000 participants a $50 Visa gift card.

Data collected during the beta phase will not be analyzed based on individual users, but instead is meant to “aggregate driver behavior and validate data collection,” according to State Farm.

RightLane’s beta version will require the user to allow access to certain parts of a participant’s smartphone, including its GPS capabilities that will be “used to aid in determining how far you have driven.” A smartphone’s wireless capabilities will also be used to “improve location data accuracy,” according to State Farm.

User Reports on Beta Program from Consumers Range

With a 3.3 average rating out of 5 on Google Play, users submitting reviews of RightLane Beta sound both ecstatic and frustrated.

Antonio Vargas said that it was inaccurate and failed to register “big chunks of my mileage” over the four days he was testing it.

Tom Lendy said that an update for the app was delivered quickly and easily, with developers who contacted him “interested in making the best app they can.”

“I would say that it is pretty impressive, especially for being a beta,” Lendy said in his review. “It has a nice, simple-to-use interface. It is simple to understand as well.”

Jamie Murphy said that she thought RightLane was a “pretty neat idea,” but her 1999 model car was not compatible with the beta testing, which requires a 2006 model car or later.

Most States Offer State Farm’s Drive Safe & Safe

State Farm’s current UBI program, Drive Safe & Save (DSS), offers insurance discounts based on the way a motorist drives. DSS is offered in three formats available in several types of car systems.

For Ford models with SYNC systems, insurance discounts on coverage are based on the distances a motorist drives; those driving less get less expensive premiums.

DSS in OnStar-equipped cars works the same way, discounting coverage for drivers with fewer miles. The In-Drive format, however, measures several premium-determining factors that require an in-car device be plugged into a car’s diagnostic port. Factors include driving speed and turns.

Similar UBI devices are used by Progressive’s Snapshot program, available in 44 states, and Allstate’s Drive Wise, available in 16 states.

DSS is available in 46 states, though some states offer different platforms of the program. Alaska, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Rhode Island are the only states that don’t offer any DSS format.

The Hartford and Travelers also have UBI programs called TrueLane and IntelliDrive, respectively.

State Farm began major expansion of DSS availability in its various formats earlier this year. However, RightLane ditches those format and car-system requirements in lieu of Android smartphones that record of driver behavior for during its beta tests.