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Personal Vehicle

They’re Watching You

Monday, 20 April 2015 GMT
Author: Staveley Head

You can’t move in our cities for CCTV. You can’t use a phone without your location and numbers being recorded. Your card transactions log your purchase, the amount, the time and the place. Whenever you look at anything online your history is being tracked and don’t get me started on speed cameras. How depressing is all that?

Alright, you can argue that those cameras make our cities and roads safer and if you’re not doing anything wrong then you don’t have anything to hide. But the thought of others knowing, recording, storing and even sharing our movements can never be a good thing.

Or can it? To lower your vehicle insurance premiums and increase your vehicle’s security you can fit an electronic GPS tracking device. This monitors the exact position of your car/van/truck so if it ever is stolen – or if you need to prove your whereabouts for work purposes, or even marital ones (!) – you’ll be able to find and prove its location.

Ok, so these little black boxes can be expensive to fit and you really will need a professional to do it, but if your premiums drop and they can help to retrieve your stolen car, then they have to be worth considering.

But what if your kids/young adults are now driving and you want to keep an eye on them? A promise from them to ‘drive carefully’ is not going to cut it, I assure you, so suddenly the idea of surveillance is not such a bad thing! Imagine you could see where they were going. Even how carefully they were cornering, accelerating, swerving and braking. Now that would be something that would give me peace of mind even if it would annoy the hell out of them.

The good news for you (if not for your little monkeys) is that you can do just this through a system called telematics. A small unit is fitted to the car and its driving history is then monitored, recorded and fed back to your insurance company. So basically the more carefully you drive the better the driver you are perceived to be. And the more you’re rewarded with lower premiums. For drivers aged between 17 and 24 who have been used to paying crazy premiums, this could be the news they’re waiting for.

But then this brings me back to my original point (sorry about all this wobbling). Although this is voluntary, fitting a telematics system could be the only way you can afford to insure your car. So how long will it be until all cars are fitted with this? And before you think that will never happen, remember that your exact location is already known the second you turn your mobile phone on.

Really this means that everywhere you drive and even how you drive could now end up in the hands of another corporation. Also, what’s happening to this data? Who else is viewing it and sharing it? True, collating driving data could help with understanding traffic flows and even the design of our roads and the cars themselves, but if information like this is valuable...

Personally, despite some concerns, gaining greater control over our car security and the amount we pay in car insurance is, ultimately, worth doing. And if this tracking makes us a nation of safer, more considerate drivers, then that’s ok with me.


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