Onlia develops a safe-driving app, calls Canada a nation of speedsters in its recent study 

Eight in 10 Canadians admit to having an “Inadvertent Lead Foot”, according to a study by Canadian car and house insurance company Onlia, and its app Onlia Sense is hoping to improve people’s driving habits across the country.

Launched in 2018, the app was tested for the first nine months with around 2, 000 people. The company started to publicize it more in the second quarter of 2019. It currently has 35, 000 users and is available to all Canadians for free. 

“When we looked at the Canadian market, we felt that road safety is a real issue. The number of accidents in Canada is high and the impact of injuries is significant,” Pieter Louter, the chief executive officer of Onlia, said in an interview. 

A large number of Canadians believe themselves to be excellent drivers, but their actions suggest otherwise, the recently released Onlia Safety Index discovered. Eighty-nine per cent of Onlia Sense drivers analyzed recorded instances of speeding while using the app – a 10 per cent increase over self-reported insights, a press release indicated. 

Moreover, for many new Onlia Sense drivers, their average drive score on the app falls into the B/B+ category.

The app uses nudge theory – a form of positive reinforcement through positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions – to help users proactively develop safer driving habits all while earning rewards for improved driving behaviour. The app uses telematics technology to analyze driver behaviours and actual results. 



According to a 2017 report from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the number of motor vehicle fatalities in Canada that year was 1,841, down 2.8 per cent from 2016 (1,895).


The app gives users a per trip score. It tracks whether a driver took corners too fast, was speeding, or braking too fast or hard. The score provides drivers with an indication of what he or she could have done in their last trip to drive better. 

Onlia Sense uses a coaching approach to help users proactively develop safer driving habits while earning rewards for improved driving behavior. The current rewards include $5, 10 or 20 off Onlia insurance and Starbucks coffee mugs, among others. 

“I believe that when people start driving with the app, and they know that they are being monitored by the app, they automatically become more conscious, especially because they know that they can receive incentives for driving safe,” Louter explained.

The company now plans to gamify the app to make it more interesting. 

Onlia Sense uses a coaching approach to help users proactively develop safer driving habits while earning rewards for improved driving behavior. Photo submitted.

“We are developing leaderboards for the app in which the users will be able to play with a group of friends and compare their scores. So we plan to gamify users’ safe driving behavior. So, users will be able to set up a scoreboard together with their kids or friends to see who is the best driver,” Louter revealed.

The company has a strict privacy code in place for this app. The company ensures that all the data is kept confidential and not used for discriminating between insurance premiums that Onlia offers to different customers.  

Neither the app nor Onlia is directly connected to the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan or any other project that Toronto has in place to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths to zero. However, Louter said it’s in contact with several government and non-government organizations in Toronto and wishes to co-operate wherever possible.


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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare beautiful, healthy and delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 647.695.3494.

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