The Local's View
A New Tool for Happy Chicago Driving
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Metromile via Collectively Inc. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, Kari Herrera, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Metromile.
“It’s not that you’re a bad driver,” a friend recently informed me. “It’s just that … Well, anyone can tell you live in Chicago. That’s all.”
In that short statement, and very pregnant ellipsis, she was judging me. I was a “Chicago driver” and so, essentially, I’m a bad driver.
Apparently, there’s a nation of cautious, responsible drivers out there (barring NYC, of course) looking down on Chicago motorists with disapproval. We’re too distracted, drive too closely, cut off too frequently, and take too many chances overall when behind the wheel. To those who subscribe to this theory, please consider the following reasons for our perhaps occasionally cavalier conduct.
The rent is too high! By rent I’m saying the price to park in our own city for any period over 15 minutes is astronomical, the highest in the nation. There have been moments when I seriously had to weigh my grocery budget in parking minutes. “This milk costs like 30 minutes. No, no it’s not worth it. I’ll stick with water.” Not to mention the billions made from said meters go largely to a company in Abu Dhabi – yes, Abu Dhabi – and not a dime of that money is spent on local municipal services. Why don’t we just take the train, you ask? Ever heard of the Polar Vortex? That’s why.
The price of gas is determined by the price for tea in China. It goes without saying that gas prices are high. They’re high everywhere. Can you explain to me, however, why the prices posted at three different gas stations within a 2 mile radius vary so drastically? Oh, and why is regular unleaded conveniently sold out at each station? Again, give us a break if we occasionally forget the thank you for letting me in front of you wave. We’ve got other things on our mind.
Why are you driving so slowly?! Particularly in warmer months, the city’s main streets start to resemble clogged arteries. Tourists are the cholesterol threatening to kill us all. Does no one know where they’re going before getting in their car? Please, just pull over, check the map. Better yet, just follow the highway signs to Navy Pier. That’s where you’re all going anyway.
With these and many other factors working against a driver’s peace of mind, it’s no wonder we’re on edge. Chicago drivers, how about some relief?
There’s a new app promising to make owning a car in Chicago easier and more affordable. Skeptical? So was I. Here’s a short run down of my experience with Metromile.
It’s free – so I’m sold! The program’s in beta and so membership right now is free ninety-nine. For the price of nothing, you get a Metronome (the smart, plug-in device that tracks everything going on with your car) and access to the company’s full line of services. Including:
Free Diagnostics – Auto stores charge a diagnostic service fee. Metromile’s Metronome device gives you instant diagnoses of your car’s running condition, access to in-house mechanics who are available to answer questions, and directions to a mechanic in your area – all within the app.
24/7 Car Location – The plug-in, equipped with its own wireless service at no cost, includes GPS. Always know where your car is parked at any given time. It’s even been used to recover stolen vehicles!
Parking Alerts – An hour before you need to move your car, get an alert from your app if you’re parked in a street sweeping zone. This is really helpful during Chicago winters when parking can alternate from one side of the street to the other on a daily basis.
What really floored me, though, was the app’s trip tracking analysis. With each drive I took, I got MPG info, fuel costs, and time spent driving information. I used this info to drive smarter and monitor my gas usage.
Optional pay-per-mile insurance is even offered through the Metromile app. Great for those who occasionally take the train or bus, only pay insurance for the number of miles you drive. If you’re considering a road trip, know that you aren’t charged at all for miles you drive above 150 any given day. Included with the insurance is round the clock customer service and road side assistance.
After a week of using Metromile, I’m already seeing the difference in my wallet and on the road.