Cheap car insurance: can black box device Lightfoot save you money?

Lightfoot promises to save drivers around £150 a year on petrol, but how does it actually work, and could it actually save you any money? We test it out.

Do you think you’re a good driver and if so, why? Maybe you’ve avoided having any accidents and don’t have any points on your licence, or you’re generally confident in your driving skills.

What would you say if you could buy a small black gadget to fit into your car, which would monitor how you drive and possibly save you money?

Lightfoot, also dubbed the “Fitbit for cars” by the creators, promises to do just this.

The company claims the gadget could save some drivers £150 a year on their petrol costs – a welcome prospect as living costs continue to rise.  

At the same time, it promises to make our roads safer and encourage drivers to be more energy efficient.

But with a one-off cost of £149 and an optional £3.99 a month subscription (or a monthly subscription of £9.99 plus £1 for the device), is it worth buying and how much could you save?

Lightfoot. (Image: Lightfoot)

Black box technology, where you have a small box fitted to your car that monitors your driving and can cut insurance costs, is nothing new.

Previously, it’s largely been targeted at younger drivers who are likely to have higher insurance costs.

The difference with Lightfoot is the monitoring aspect, and its aim to improve how drivers of any age take to the roads, while saving them money.

According to insurer Allianz UK, those with Lightfoot are 40% less likely to cause an accident.

Here we explain exactly how Lightfoot works, what it does, and how much it could save you.

What is Lightfoot?

Lightfoot is a small box that sits on the dashboard of any type of car and connects to the on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) port, which any car made in the European Union after 2004 will have.

It monitors how you drive and lights up to let you know if you’re driving well – or if you’re driving badly.

The lights may flash from green to amber and then red, alerting you to your driving style, while a voiceover then tells you at the end of each journey how well you’ve been driving.

The gadget was launched in 2013 but until recently has been mainly targeted at fleets of cars, rather than individuals.

There are over 20,000 of these gadgets installed in cars in the UK at the moment.

Those signed up on a monthly subscription to Lightfoot are also entered into a weekly lottery with cash prizes of between £25 an £250, and other rewards such as dinners and days out vouchers.  

Close up of someone's hands on driving wheel. (Image: Shutterstock.)

Lightfoot has an app where you can look at your driving score, monitor your driving, compare how you drive to other motorists, as well as download relevant discounts and offers.

Founder Mark Roberts, who lives in Dartmoor, has a background in the green transport sector and before creating Lightfoot worked for a cleantech engineering group.

Roberts says he aims to make motoring better for the environment and society, while cutting costs for drivers who want to take meaningful action on climate change and air pollution.

“A well driven Range Rover is more efficient than a badly driven Prius!”, says Roberts.

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How does it work?

Lightfoot is easy to install in your car and it works in pretty much any kind made in the EU after 2004.

It’s very small and sits on the dashboard and shouldn’t interfere with your view when driving.

At first, I found the flashing lights and voiceover prompts (you’ll be given “nudges” if you’re repeatedly driving badly such as accelerating too hard or slamming on the breaks too often), a bit annoying.  

The box turns on when you start the engine and monitors your driving throughout the journey.

So, it took a little getting used to having the lights flashing, but as the device is really small, this didn’t distract me too much while driving.

At the end of each journey you’re given a little summary, which I really liked. It also made an impact as I wanted to try and improve my score on each additional journey.

Overall, I found the box a really easy way to slowly remind me to be a better driver and I think if used for a month (or over a year), it may make a significant impact on both my driving and the amount I spend on petrol.

It makes sense that as drivers are changing their habits with Lightfoot, they will see their costs go down because driving at a high speed and regularly accelerating too fast means your tank will run out faster.

I also liked that by reminding drivers to drive more efficiently, it can help lower vehicle emissions. Researchers at the University of Bath have verified that Lightfoot may reduce fuel use by at least 10%.

The AA has also found that how you drive can reduce how much you fuel up. Dropping your speed from 80mph to 70mph could save you up to 25% in petrol costs, while slowing down from 70mph to 60mph could save another 10%.

Family on a drive. (Image: Shutterstock.)

How much money could it save you?

Lightfoot says it can save drivers an average of £156 on their petrol costs, and up to £773.50 per year when adding in all the additional benefits it provides and prizes you could potentially win.

This includes: 

  • £180 on dining out;
  • £87.50 on days out;
  • £18 on gym membership costs;
  • £151 on supermarket shopping;
  • £85 on high street shopping.

Obviously, these savings will only be made if someone uses all the discounts connected to the box, which may not be for everyone.

When it comes to insurance, there also may be savings.

No data is shared with the driver’s insurer, but a driver can download their driving history and supply this to their insurer as proof of their ability to drive consistently well over a period of time.

If your car insurance is coming up for renewal, you can compare different quotes at Confused.com.

Lightfoot only recently moved into the consumer space and I think with a price tag of £149, it will remain a niche product for the time being.

But, as this technology becomes more mainstream and if the price falls, I think it could become popular with drivers.  

What are the alternatives?

There are lots of black box products on the market and these are typically linked to your insurance policy, directly affecting the price.

Lightfoot doesn’t work like this as it aims to re-teach drivers how to be safer and more fuel efficient.

Unfortunately, this comes at a cost.

If you aren’t ready to fork out the £149 for the box, you could actively begin to change your driving style on your own and see how much it can affect the amount you’re spending on petrol.

The downside is this obviously takes more willpower and there will be no one monitoring your driving or checking up on you.

*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

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