Driver Tracking Devices - Should We Worry?

Ever wonder what's the story with driver tracking devices?

S. Daniel Ackerman, our Guest Blogger, is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can contact him with love or hate mail (or car or bicycle chat) at sdaniel_ackerman [at ] He has interesting news in the world of motors to share with the readers of Here's his article:

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Image from gpsantitheftsystems.comImage from gpsantitheftsystems.comYou hear a lot of talk these days about driver tracking devices. What began as anti-theft devices, such as Lo-Jack, is giving way to insurance companies suggesting that drivers install tracking devices in order to receive a discount on their insurance.

Should we worry about being tracked and our behavior monitored every time we drive? And if we aren't doing anything wrong, what do we have to worry about, anyway?

Companies such as Alltrack USA and Road Safety International offer products for parents to install on their teens' cars to monitor their driving. Some are GPS capable, some give parents real time alerts whenever their teen breaks the law, and many simply allow parents to download information periodically. Parents can justify these expenses (which can range up to $480 to install, plus monthly service fees) and the invasion of their teen's privacy by thinking they are keeping their child safe. After all, auto crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. But are parents considering the importance of teens to assert their independence, and for parents to respect their maturation by allowing them the responsibility of driving?

Insurance companies nationwide are engaged in pilot programs offering drivers discounts if they install the driver tracking devices. Progressive is giving participants discounts of up to 25%. If their data shows that drivers with the devices installed are safer, the next logical step is penalizing drivers who will not install them, or refusing to insure drivers who will not be monitored. The problem, though, is that slower, "safer" drivers are far more likely to participate in this study anyway, so the data is likely to be skewed.

I worry about a slippery slope situation.

We are already getting used to being filmed by security cameras in public, and having our email, other online communications, and phone calls monitored. This practice of monitoring drivers, waiting for them to do something wrong, all in the name of safety, is difficult to argue against. Are we willing to give up our privacy in the name of safety and security? Eventually, automakers will be required to install monitoring devices in the cars, and insurance companies will require you to turn them on in order to be insured. You must be insured to drive, so, in order to drive, you must submit to having your driving habits and location continuously monitored. It seems like a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. I know I sound paranoid. Can someone give me an argument that can put my fears to rest? Or should I just submit to my Big Progressive Brother?

S. Daniel Ackerman
Guest Blogger