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Privacy Technology

Big Brother In Your Front Seat 995

Rick Zeman writes "Would you give up your privacy in your car to save a few bucks on your auto insurance? 'Safe' drivers who plug an electronic device into their vehicles will be then eligible for a discount on their insurance. They say, '...the device constantly tracks car speed. By comparing that with a clock in the TripSense device, the device figures how far the car goes, mapping it against the time of day. At the end of each policy term, the customer would download the data and see what discount he or she would get. Customers can see all their data before deciding to send it to Progressive, and can decide not to send it -- and not get extra discounts.' I wonder how soon it will be that everyone has one except those resigned to paying extra as with grocery 'convenience' cards."
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Big Brother In Your Front Seat

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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:38PM (#9932878)
    Would you give up your privacy in your car to save a few bucks on your auto insurance? ... the device constantly tracks car speed ...
    To make this as easy as possible for insurance company representatives (or any other representatives of big business and government) to understand:

    Stay the f**k out of my life.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maximilln ( 654768 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:39PM (#9932904) Homepage Journal
      You know that, to save the children, eventually these things will be mandatory by law.
      • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

        by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <setherNO@SPAMtru7h.org> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:57PM (#9933145) Homepage
        > You know that, to save the children, eventually these things will be mandatory by law.

        They couldn't enforce any such law on older vehicles. In this particular case, it would be any vehicle older than 1996, which is when the diagnostic adapter that this device uses started appearing.

        I drive an early 60's, when I bought it it wasn't equipped with seat belts because at that point in history there were no seatbelt laws. First time I got pulled over for not wearing one it was quite fun to point out how I was exempt. I eventually installed some aftermarket ones because driving with no belt is plain out stupid, but the blank look the officer briefly gave me was well worth it. ;)

        Considering the availability of vehicles, especially 1995 and earlier, you could go a long, long time snubbing any such law that was put in place.
        • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:07PM (#9933292)
          I drive an early 60's, when I bought it it wasn't equipped with seat belts because at that point in history there were no seatbelt laws

          Oh please :) Here's how it will work: Government will require you to have insurance (which in most states it does). Insurance companies won't insure a car WITHOUT the device.

          A friend of mine from sweeden says, while marijuana is legal in sweeden, you can't get a job or car insurance if you use it, so you're effectively a non-citizen.

          • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:15PM (#9933390)
            How can this work.......

            I believe most accidents happen in cities, and likely at speeds under 50mph. What good does this do for an insurance company to see that I often drive at 55mph or 60mph when I could quite likely be highway driving.

            45mph in a 30mph zone is far more dangerous than 65mph in a 60mph zone. How can the device KNOW the speed limit when compared with the speed driven?

            • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

              by pizzaman100 ( 588500 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:23PM (#9933502) Journal
              How can the device KNOW the speed limit when compared with the speed driven?

              Simple, flood the road ways with an inverse tachyon matrix.

            • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

              by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:24PM (#9933517) Journal
              RTFA!!! It uses GPS and proximity generated sonic cameras (cool tech, uses ultra sonic emiters to generate 3D images) to see what your are doing and where you are at all times. The insurance companies then take this information and send it to the NSA wher they process everything you have done over the past year and give you a terrist rating. This is then used to prioritize the people that it tracks with greater details. If you are given a high enough rateing a thought monitor will be installed. Unfortantly the thought monitor comes in the form of a very uncomfortable anal probe.

              I know because I beta tested this system.

    • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

      by foidulus ( 743482 ) *
      Um, for governments you can say that, but guess what, car insurance is privately owned, if you don't like it, don't go with that company, siimple as that. Let them know you don't like it, if they lose more revenue than they stand to gain,
      • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

        car insurance is privately owned

        It was. Now it is mandated, therefore it is a tax, and therefore it is government. That means we can bypass the whole "well, it's a private company so they can deep fry your rights in wombat shit" argument.

        • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

          by dartboard ( 23261 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:49PM (#9933038)
          It's only mandated if you want to drive on public roads. If you build your own [private] highway system then you no longer need insurance. Easy-cheesey!
          • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

            by FooAtWFU ( 699187 )
            According to the local DMV (North Carolina), car insurance is actually mandatory. You just have to be able to pay in the event of a wreck. They do some sort of check into your ability to do so. Insurance is still highly reccomended.
        • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

          by radish ( 98371 )
          There's nothing stopping you starting your own insurance company...
        • It's not a tax (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SuperMario666 ( 588666 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:03PM (#9933229)
          You still have a choice among insurance companies. Choose one that doesn't snoop into your business.
        • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

          by ekidder ( 121911 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:04PM (#9933240) Homepage
          Indiana doesn't require you to have insurance. You can sign an affidavit stating that you can afford to pay for any accidents you're the cause of. Or something like that. I'm pretty sure you also need to supply some proof that you can afford it, too.
          • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

            by parkrrrr ( 30782 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:39PM (#9933711)
            You need to supply proof in the form of a deposit of $40,000 for the first car and $20,000 for each additional car. See 140 IAC 1-7-3 [in.gov] (PDF format) for the gory details.

            Most of us can't afford to tie up $40,000 cash just to avoid getting screwed by an insurance company.

        • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

          by foidulus ( 743482 ) *
          So let me get this straight, you seem very upset about "big government" mandating you have car insurance, but you want government to stop car insurance companies to not be able to give customers discounts who VOLUNTEER to have stuff monitored on their car.......
          This makes no sense, you seem mad about government regulation, but you want to answer it with, government regulation!
          You can't have both......
      • go monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Psymunn ( 778581 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:48PM (#9933031)
        well... over here in BC Canada, the government has a monopoly on car insurance. what can you say to that?
      • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:52PM (#9933071)
        But what about when they all require them?

        It's an interesting dilema, and it's easy to say to just pick another company...

        When they came for Progressive, I said I didn't have Progressive, so I did nothing.

        When they came for State Farm, I said I didn't have State Farm, so I did nothing....

        Etc., etc....

        Until... then they came for Metropolitan, and there were no other companies to turn to...

        Obviously, I think, we are beginning to understand that in order to continue having certain privelages, because so many people violate those privelages, we are going to have to accept enforcement of the proper use of those privelages and pay the penalties when we don't. Speed traps, red light cameras, black boxes... Sure, I know it's not the government... yet.

        I could be flip about it and say "well, if you don't speed then why would you object?" But I won't, because we all know it doesn't end there. On the other hand, with so many people violating rules and laws, costing lives and money, something like this is inevitable.
        • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sweetooth ( 21075 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:13PM (#9933373) Homepage
          Well the whole reason you have insurance is so that if something bad happens while driving etc you don't have to foot the whole bill yourself. This seems much more like a tactic for the insurance companies to get out of liability should you be in an accident.

          Say you are in one, the insurance company then pulls out your data and says: You drive an average of 3 mph over the speed limit based on the data you have provided for the last couple of years and that puts you in violation of our terms so you're on your own buddy.

          While it may reduce the costs for some customers initially there is a point when all insurance companies will require it (assuming consumers don't complain and it's likely they won't). Then there will be no reason to give any one a price cut for using it and they can get out of paying for more claims as so many people violate the speed limit laws etc.

          Then again maybe I'm just paranoid when it comes to corporations, privacy, etc.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <benNO@SPAMint.com> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:42PM (#9932942) Homepage
      You: Stay the f**k out of my life.

      InsureCo: No problem. Have a nice day and good luck driving your car without insurance.

      • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

        by riptide_dot ( 759229 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:57PM (#9933136)
        You: Stay the f**k out of my life.
        InsureCo: No problem. Have a nice day and good luck driving your car without insurance.

        Me: Thanks, it's very easy to drive without insurance. It's not really harder than driving with insurance, actually. Now, getting pulled over without insurance, that's a different story. Still relatively easy, but expensive. I'll go talk to company B who will give me discounts based on my lack of accidents, lack of tickets within the last three years, and the fact that I purchased other insurance policies through them as well. Have a nice day!

        InsuranceCo: Wait, come back! We don't want to lose your business, we just wanted to make more money from you by proving that you speed despite your clean record!

        Insurance Companies live and die with statistics. The one they're playing with now I'll bet says that even their "best" drivers that don't get speeding tickets and get into accidents are still speeding, but not getting caught. I'd imagine that most of their customers speed from time to time, so this is an easier way of increasing their rates without having to rely on the CHP or local law enforcement to catch them. I'm not against people wanting to do this, but I imagine that a whole lot of people that try this will be disappointed in the end because their premiums don't go anywhere but up because only the most cautious drivers actually go the speed limit or slower ALL THE TIME. Most people speed, and the insurance companies probably have the statstics to prove it.

        Bottom line: a large company that is in the business of making money will NEVER offer incentives to their customers that causes them to lose money somehow. That's bad business.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dr Caleb ( 121505 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:43PM (#9932947) Homepage Journal
      I second that. They are there to provide me with a service. They can judge how much that will cost me by how much I cost them in the past, not how much I might cost them in the future.

      I can decide if I'm willing to pay their outragous prices and contribute to their record profits (last year for example). Stay the hell out of my life.

      • They are there to provide me with a service. They can judge how much that will cost me by how much I cost them in the past, not how much I might cost them in the future.

        You obviously have no idea how car insurance works.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jridley ( 9305 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:43PM (#9932955)
      Easy enough. Don't do business with companies that do things you don't like. But don't complain when you have to pay more than your neighbor because he's proved he's a good driver, while you're an unknown risk.
      • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

        by base3 ( 539820 )
        You really think this will result in discounts for good drivers? The "proven good drivers'" premiums might dip a little at first, but ultimately, they will use the chilling effect of having this device to increase the money they make from good drivers, while charging a premium for privacy for those who can afford it.
      • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SnapShot ( 171582 )
        With all due respect, how many "good" drivers do you see on the road on a daily basis. When was the last time you saw a vehical go the speed limit (not 5 to 10 mph over, but the actual posted speed limit?)

        Okay, I do it occassionally just to piss-off tailgaters...

        Anyway, IMOSFHO, the real danger on the road is people who pass on the right, tailgaters, people who don't use turn signals, and people who generally act like asshats. Speed is just a multiplier for other stupid behavior. When are we going to g
        • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:47PM (#9933815)
          FYI it's people like you that are part of the cause the tailgating, passing on the right, etc. If you would just move to the right and let people who want to go faster go by, part of the problem would dissipate. Of course, this doesn't always work, such as in high volume areas, but it's more often than not that when I am confronted with 3 lanes of solid cars, it's caused by people going the speed limit or under in each lane, with a stretch of open road ahead of them.

          Also, at least in New Jersey, you are driving illegally if you fail to yield to a vehicle that wishes to pass.
    • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JAgostoni ( 685117 )
      At least they said it was optional. But then again, that just means they'll raise your rates and the "discounted" rates will but what you WERE paying before you decided not to install the little black box.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SlashHack ( 700614 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:56PM (#9933131)
      I disagree with the premise. Who says that 'speeding equates to accidents?'. Give me a break. I've been almost run over by grandmas not paying attention going 10 miles an hour under the speed limit. Perhaps we should raise car insurance rates exponentially as age increases to get the real threat off the road.

      Certainly if one is not paying attention, no matter who they are, they're going to cause an accident. I disagree it's just the speeders.

      You can have my sports car when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by darksaber ( 46072 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:57PM (#9933137)

      To make this as easy as possible for insurance company representatives (or any other representatives of big business and government) to understand: Stay the f**k out of my life.

      Is now a good time to say, "Who is forcing you to use these devices? This plan doesn't even force to report results after you check them."

      Ignoring slippery slopes for a moment, the insurance company is trying to "prove" that you aren't a problem case waiting to happen. And why wouldn't you want to let the crazier drivers pay for the risk? Do you really like subsidizing their rates? Of course, reading the posts in other articles here, slashdot readers are pretty crazy drivers (e.g. passing at 100mph driving on the wrong side of the street) so maybe I'll be mobbed in a minute.

      Also, they aren't trying to collect much information at the moment, but I imagine it would be a lot harder to justify the increased benefits of full tracking logs vs just speed logs. That, and for the non-tinfoil crowd, the detail to really recreate an accident would probably take way to much storage unless it was only the most recent data. The tinfoil crowd isn't reading this anyway.

      P.S. For those who worry about it being sub-poenaed and self-incrimination, I agree it shouldn't be but it probably will. I still don't feel sorry for those who actually cause accidents by being deliberately reckless time and time again and try to hide it though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:38PM (#9932889)
    I wonder how soon it will be that everyone has one

    I wonder how long till someone hacks it to get a discount on their insurance.
    Oh and does it run Linux?
    • I wonder how long till someone hacks it to get a discount on their insurance.

      It would be no different than committing odometer fraud. Sure, it can be done, but it's cheating (used car buyers in one case, insurance companies in the other).

  • Entrapment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:39PM (#9932896)
    Gotta love this. It's entrampment. They assume if you don't wish to upload your driving data that you are a bigger risk.
    • Re:Entrapment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wwest4 ( 183559 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:44PM (#9932966)
      Isn't entrapment when you are goaded into doing something illegal you wouldn't otherwise do?

      This is part of the trend toward automated mass transit. Suck all the joy/autonomy out of driving by constraining the ways you can legally drive, and after a while there will be no "freedom" in having your own car. You may as well get on the subway with a toy driving wheel and make vroom-vroom sounds.
      • For me, all the joy was sucked out of driving YEARS AGO. Look at all the maniacs on the road today. It's not uncommon to see some jackass wait until you are 2 feet from the intersection before jumping into traffic, causing you to slam your brakes, only to pull into a gas station on the other side of the street to get a pack of smokes (or whatever.) I absolutely HATE driving anymore -- it is a bloody chore to me, and I dread it each and every day. Unfortunately, the available alternatives aren't much better:
    • Re:Entrapment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by base3 ( 539820 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:44PM (#9932970)
      Finally--someone gets it. A "discount" for having the device is really a surcharge for not having it.
      • Re:Entrapment (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:52PM (#9933076)
        Ding! We have a winner! :)

        The grocery stores charge up to a SIXTY PERCENT PENALTY for not handing over an address, social security number, etc. Why not auto insurance? And why not say, 150%?
      • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:57PM (#9933142) Journal
        That depends..

        If all my apples cost 20ct/piece for everyone, has for many years, whatever.
        And you fill in a form that gets you a bonus card, and entitles you to get them at 15ct/piece.

        Does that mean you got a discount ?
        Or does that mean everybody else got a surcharge ?

        Considering everybody else is still paying their 20ct/piece, as they have in the past, there is no change in the situation for them.
        There is, however, for you. You can get them cheaper. You are getting.. a discount.

        The situation you're talking about is this..

        Apples used to cost 20ct/piece
        Then I raise the cost to 25ct/piece, whilst introducing the bonus card. You fill in the info, I get you the bonus card, and you can once again get your apples for 20ct/piece.
        Everybody else, however, would be paying the 25ct/piece.
        In THAT case.. everybody else is getting a surcharge, whilst nothing changes for you.

        Of course you could go halfway. Up the price to 22.5 or 17.5 for those with the card - in which case everybody else would get a surcharge - albeit a 'minor' one, whilst you would still get a discount - albeit a 'minor' one.

        That said...
        Of course insurance companies will raise the prices for those who opt not to get it. That's been the case for almost every piece of technology, though they're usually smart enough to make this a gradual change.
        I.e. at the introduction of airbags, they didn't just raise the price insanely immediately - just gradually, until the time came where most cars do have an airbag - therefore not having an airbag makes you a clear minority.. a minority which, compared to the others, is a liability.
    • Re:Entrapment (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:00PM (#9933183) Homepage
      doesn't matter, Progressive tries entrapment all the time. Dont send them an affidavit from your last insurance company? well that "low" rate now is increased by 50%.

      progressive = insurance for bad drivers. Most mainstream insurance companies like State Farm and AAA are actually much cheaper than progressive if you are a safe driver already. I'm insuring 2 vehicles + a RV for almost $100.00US less a month than the 1 vehicle I had insured under progressive.(I have had no tickets or accidents for almost 14 years now) also, if you ask for any discounts after they jack your rates, they tell you to sod off.

      it's a gimmick trying to get more bad drivers to switch to them... and then they up your rates like MAD when you have to renew.

      you have to look at the company first.
    • Re:Entrapment (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mc6809e ( 214243 )
      Gotta love this. It's entrampment. They assume if you don't wish to upload your driving data that you are a bigger risk.

      And what's wrong with that?

      It all depends on the statistics they gather and whether or not there is a correlation.

      Profitable insurance companies don't use personal judgements. They use statistics and look for correlations.

      If people that upload are less a risk, they should be charged less. If people that don't upload are a greater risk, they should pay more.

      The burden of payment shoul
    • Gotta love this. It's entrampment.

      I wouldn't mind being entramped a little, even if I had to pay more for my insurance...<G>

  • Hacked... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrBlue VT ( 245806 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:39PM (#9932902) Homepage
    How long until this is hacked? I predict even before it hits the mainstream and they are still running trials.
    • by birukun ( 145245 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:59PM (#9933169)
      You are bidding on one (1) Sunday Driver Profile (SDP)package.

      1 SDP download (compatible with GEICO, AAA, Allstate, Progressive, and Farmers)
      1 SDP handbook that includes background information of driving habits for answering those aggressive insurance agents

      Don't pay extra for insurance! Let the Sunday Driver profile work for you - guaranteed to meet the specifications of your insurance company or your money back.


      "I used the SDP package and saved 100s of dollars on my insurance! Thanks SDP!" - M. Gecko, San Diego

  • no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Triumph The Insult C ( 586706 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:40PM (#9932909) Homepage Journal
    what's next after that? save a few bucks on health insurance if i walk around with a camera showing i don't smoke?

    it's all the lawyers fault anyways. go put the damn black box in their car and see how they like it
  • by Evets ( 629327 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:40PM (#9932911) Homepage Journal
    Porsche stock went down 22%
  • Progressive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:41PM (#9932932)
    The catch is that you have to be insured by Progressive. Bleh. I had their service for a year, then jumped to State Farm and am paying $300 less per 6-month term then I was before.

    Also, what about those of us who constantly go 5 mph above the speed limit? Would we be targeted as reckless drivers because we "speed" most of the time? No thanks.
    • Re:Progressive? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cmallinson ( 538852 ) *
      Also, what about those of us who constantly go 5 mph above the speed limit? Would we be targeted as reckless drivers because we "speed" most of the time? No thanks.

      The system only checks your speed to determine distance travelled, not speeding. To tell if you're speeding, the system would need GPS, and a knowledge of the speed limits in the area. checking for speeding, however, would be the logical next step.

  • That would RULE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToadMan8 ( 521480 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:41PM (#9932933)
    Mine would say I do 6 MPH below the speed limit at every given time and I never tailgate and always stop for little old ladies in the crosswalk... Regardless of my 110 MPH habits.
    Or if I'm going to be crazy for a little bit I'll just deactivate it.
    Remember a tip of security of a device... if you can get your hands on it, especially in your house or garage for a matter of months, it's as good as hacked. Other, non-tech savvy people may think otherwise about it though.
  • Great Idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Laivincolmo ( 778355 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:42PM (#9932937)
    I would gladly install one of these in my car. It would provide hard evidence in the case of an accident or unlawful speeding ticket.
    Hey... maybe they should make them mandatory in police cars to stop all those speeding cops... Anyone else notice how cops are immune to the speed limit?
    • Re:Great Idea! (Score:5, Informative)

      by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:56PM (#9933132)
      Anyone else notice how cops are immune to DUI laws? We used to own a restaurant in Vancouver. When the cops came in, it was friggin' christmas for us. Fifty drunk cops acting like asses. Then when it came time to leave you'd get the response "I'm a cop, I don't lose my license if I get stopped at a road block; they just follow me home"

      Friggin' crock of shit if you ask me.
    • Yup (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:13PM (#9933366) Homepage Journal
      One explained that to me once. If you ticket a cop speeding through your zone, they'll ticket you for speeding through their zone. Even if you weren't particularly speeding. So everone exercises a quid-pro-quo and no one tickets anyone else who's a cop. That means as a cop you could habitually do 110 in school zones and you'll never get ticketed for it.

      If you donate to their pension fund and put that little sticker they send you on your car, they'll be more inclined to let you go. It's not the get out of ticket free card that being a cop is, but unless you were doing something radical or they're WAY under quota, you'll likely just get off with a warning.

  • Not for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ack154 ( 591432 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:42PM (#9932938)
    The customer would then plug the device into the on-board diagnostic port under the dashboard. The port is on all models sold in the USA since 1996.
    Looks like I'm out, I have a '94. I don't have Progressive anyways, but it's not even compatible with my car.
    In Minnesota, where the highway speed limit is 70 mph, drivers who go over 75 less than 0.1% of the time get an extra 5% discount.
    Less than 0.1% of the time and it's only 5%?! Now I don't live in Minnesota, but I don't think I'd get much discount at all. The highway speedlimit here in NY is either 55 or 65 (depending) and my avg speed would probably be 65+ and 75+ (respectively) for a lot more than 0.1% of the time. Maybe that would get me 0.1% discount?

    IMO, I think they'd have to offer a little bit more of a discount for the masses to really consider it. I'd slow down a bit if it were worth it. But for someone who may be paying $500/yr for insurance and getting MAYBE 5% off, that's only $25, or maybe $2/month. Just doesn't sound too enticing to me, though some people may jump at the opportunity to save a little. But your results may vary.
  • by holden caufield ( 111364 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:42PM (#9932939)
    Does anyone even remotely believe that children (let's say those under 25 still covered uner their parent's insurance) drive as responsibly as they might tell their parents?
    • I did. My dad lets me drive his vette because he trusts me implicitly.
      But then again, some parents are morons whose sweet little angel could NEVER do ANYTHING wrong...
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:42PM (#9932941) Homepage
    Because that truck is trying to merge and the assholes next to you and behind you are crowding too close to make slowing down or changing lanes an option that doesn't result in an accident?
    Or how about the dumbass who goes slow as hell on the highway, causing more of a danger to others than the guy who goes slightly over the speed limit?
    Hell, what about the number of morons I've had to avoid becuase they can't figure out which fucking lane to turn into in a double left turn?
    My point is speed isn't the only deciding factor in accidents, and if you have a device that measures only speed, well, it's like asking a blind man to describe the mountain vista to you. He can only say so much about it, in a non-contextual way, in a situation where context is of the utmost importance. It's the reason we don't have automatic pilot on cars yet... context is too important.
  • Because once its in there and shows positive statistics, the government might mandate it.

    And once THAT happens, it becomes information they could subpoena.

    So you get into an accident that you *know* was the other guys fault, but your little black box says you were speeding slightly at the time, and the courts could quickly decide that you really were partially at fault and force your insurance company to pony up (and thus increase your rates) where now the other guys insurance would have to pick it up.

    Information you are not in control of will be used to control you. Better it simply not exist at all.
    • there's one flaw in your reasoning : your little black box says you were speeding slightly.

      Now, let's start with the assumption that the device works properly. (if you start to question that, you can't have any reasonable discussion anymore) So you were speeding. So you were breaking the law. So you were at fault. So you do deserve to be considered part of the problem.

      I do agree that this device is bad because of privacy issues, but the argument you're bringing up is a dead argument used by many : But
      • by yabos ( 719499 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:13PM (#9933368)
        Who says that speeding would have any fault in the accident? The accident could very well happen no matter what speed you were going.

        You can't say that just because you were speeding that it was partially your fault. What if someone was speeding up behind you really fast and you punched the gas to lessen the impact? Your speed would probably be over the limit but you actually saved yourself some possible injury.

        Again, what if you are on a 4 lane(2 either way) highway and you were passing someone and they chaned lanes and side swiped you? How is that any of your fault because you were going 5 or 10 or more over the limit? They should be able to judge your speed and know when it's safe to change lanes.

        This box is nothing but another way for insurance companies to get out of paying you. They would no doubt have a clause in their agreement stating that if you were speeding according to their box that they wouldn't have to pay you squat which is BS.
      • thing is, there's over the speed limit, and then there's driving faster than the flow of traffic.

        I could easily have been over the speed limit, along with everybody else who drives 70mph on 28 near dulles airport outside DC. so yeah, i'm speeding, but i'm not the traffic risk. the guy doing 90 and changing lanes like he's in Le Mans IS, and if he hits me, its his fault no matter what speed i was doing.

        in fact, in that circumstance (VERY common near DC) if I was doing the 55 speed limit, i would be presenting even MORE of a risk to getting hit by mr. 90mph.

        so i'm not saying i wasn't speeding, i'm saying i was not a threat to the flow of traffic which the other individual was. should i be penalized because I was trying NOT to be a threat to traffic?

        speeding is, in spite of everything they try to do with their fucking cameras and crap, a relative crime, not an absolute, and any attempt to make it an absolute simply causes traffic to STOP at the places they do it at, or penalizes the poor and middle class while the rich pay the fines (without point penalty or chance of losing their license) as if it was just a "tax in order to have the right to speed".

        its a cheap tax to them.

        i'm bitter about this because I got a camera-ticket a few weeks back because I 1) was driving the same speed as everybody else, but 2) had backed off just enough so that I was effectively driving "alone" (nobody near me at the time). I do this because I can't trust the other drivers to not change lanes without looking (i've had dozens of near-misses because people suck) so i match speeds with the "packs" but considerably behind them.

        This means, of course, that I can get picked off like any prey not hiding among the herd. I get penalized because I was trying to remain in a safe situation where i wasn't getting swallowed up in a pack of cars full of drivers who can't drive for shit.
        • by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:37PM (#9933692) Journal
          I know that in the USA, speed limits are different from europe. Where I live (Belgium), speed limit is 120km/h on highways. Practically everyone goes over that by a margin of 10km/h. Which is tolerated by cameras. I used to do it too, until we bought a new car, a renault traffic, which is a LOT bigger than our previous car, an opel tigra. The renault can do 150km/h easily, as did the tigra (shitcar BTW), but since you have a completely different view of traffic (it's a van), you feel speed diferently. Nowadays I drive 120km/h tops, and found out a few things :

          - I consume 15% to 25% less fuel. Amazing isn't it ? This is mainly due to not constantly accelerating to 130-140 just to break again 1 minute later. My speed remains far more constant
          - I get everywhere at the same time as i did when i drove faster. There is ZERO difference on average. I do Brussels-Ostend (150km) every week, and there's really no difference since i started driving slower.
          - I feel safer, calmer and less stressed. I never thought that this 10km/h speed difference would make such a mental difference. I 've started listening to music again, since at 130-140km/h, i had to focus on traffic instead of music.
          - the whole 'you have to drive along with the flow' thing is complete and utter bollocks. Traffic flows in blocks, that group themselves around a group of trucks who can't bypass eachother since they have speed limiters. Cars just move from block to block. The speeders wiggle their way thru these blocks a few % faster than the rest, and then pull up to 150km/h untill they reach the next block 10secs later. I just reach that block 12seconds later.

          Honestly : just give it a try and drive slower. you'll notice that most of your prejudices are balooney.

          Note : driving slower has one explicit effect : middle fingers from freaks who think their lives are so filled up, they really need those 10% they think they can shave off in traffic. Usually types who wash their car every week and thereby lose hours of time :-)
      • Interesting. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hanna's Goblin Toys ( 635700 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:29PM (#9933579) Homepage Journal
        So if you're going 16 in a 15mph zone, and I drive into the side of your car by running a stop sign while going 15mph, you're at fault?

        Awesome. Where do you live?

  • by SpiritOfGrandeur ( 686449 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:44PM (#9932963)
    Report -- You traveled 4 hours this month at speeds of over 100 miles per hour...
    -- You traveled 1.2 hours this month at speeds of over 120 miles per hours...
    -- It is estimated that you traveled 0.0 hours below the speed limit this month...
    -- You traveled 3432 miles this month...
    -- You spent 60.4 hours in the car this month...
    -- You need a life...
    -- You have had 0 girls in the car this month...
    -- You have had your laptop in the car for a total of 60.4 hours...
    -- LOSER

    Nothing like helping the self-esteem and getting a 0$ discount
  • by morcheeba ( 260908 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:45PM (#9932990) Journal
    I wonder how well Progressive's device will corralate with actual accident rates. It can't tell the difference between going 55 on a highway and going 55 in a preschool parking lot. Or, for that matter, 20 mph in the lot, and 20 on the highway.

    Hopefully they'll do more than just histogram your speeds -- maybe they'll try to categorize your driving -- local, stop-and-go, freeway -- and then maybe check to see how often you suddenly decellerate. Jazz it up right, and you could detect cell phone usage, too.
  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:46PM (#9932997) Homepage Journal
    The only standard way this data is available on vehicles is via OBD-II. Such dataloggers are already commonly available and used by mechanics to diagnose problems, but here is the real problem -- you could dupe them VERY esily. It would take any sensible programmer with a copy of the (free) standards less than a day to create some kind of simulator that you plug the device into instead of your car.

    The only real benefit I see to this problem is that if you call them out on it, you'll probably be able to get the 'safe' rate without having to plug the thing into your own car.
  • Nothing new... (Score:3, Informative)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:46PM (#9933001) Journal
    ...about this kind of technology. European lorry drivers have had to use tachographs [wikipedia.org] for long time to assist law enforcement in ensuring that driving hours regulations are adhered to. As time has gone on they have become more difficult for drivers to tamper with, so the days are gone when a driver can just 'pull the fuse' on the tachograph when his hours are up and keep on driving.
  • by gnat_x ( 713079 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:46PM (#9933007)
    any person who has an ez-pass [ezpass.com] which is the new trend at least on the east coast is already having their travels through toll booths recorded in a database.

    if you enter the NJ turnpike at the south end and drive to the north end, its a simple equation to figure out if your average speed was higher than the speed limit.

    there are ez-pass scanners everywhere, including buildings all over manhatten. but everyone in the NYC area has them because it makes their lives and their commutes easier (as the name would suggest) and cheaper.

    people don't seem to have a problem with those things being recorded if it means they don't have to pay more/ wait in line.
  • Yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HawkinsD ( 267367 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:46PM (#9933010)
    Auto insurance is an extremely competitive industry. They employ armies of actuaries to allow them to tinker with rates constantly.

    The actuaries tell them that could make substantial rate cuts, and advertise them like crazy (in ads even funnier than Geico's "I just saved a bundle...") if they could only make their process of weeding out relatively dangerous drivers more precise.

    I wear a pretty fancy tinfoil hat most of the time, but I'm a safe driver, goddammit, and I can prove it, by my behavior. So: yes, please. I'll take it.

  • by shirai ( 42309 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:52PM (#9933083) Homepage
    Wow... This is brilliant on the part of the insurance company.

    1. They allow drivers to voluntarily put this device in their cars for reduced insurance rates.

    2. Drivers get used to having these devices in their cars.

    3. Now that everybody is used to it, it is much easier to require it for insurance. So, they require it for insurance. With a few insurance companies doing it, it becomes the norm.

    Of course, the caveat to the insurance companies is that fast driving does not mean dangerous driving. Many drive slower and (seemingly) safer but have more accidents.

    Unfortunately, those boxes can't measure driver skill or the situations under which good/bad driving occurs. For example, 100 km/h is safe on the highway unless there is a lot of traffic with heavy rain and/or snow. Also, I drive a van at a fraction of the speed of my sports car. Driving at any speed in a van is much scarier than burning rubber in a sports car.
  • by Trurl's Machine ( 651488 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:55PM (#9933106) Journal
    Big Brother In Your Front Seat (...) "Would you give up your privacy in your car to save a few bucks on your auto insurance?

    Give up privacy of my back seat? Never. No way. Okay, okay, certainly not for just few bucks, but serious offers will be considered. Oh, you said "front seat"? No problem then.
  • Boycott Progressive (Score:5, Informative)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at. .ivoss.com.> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @03:59PM (#9933166) Homepage Journal
    The best way to deal with blatant violations of privacy by a large corporation is a strong negative consumer reaction.
    1. If your a progressive customer call up your agent and complain, tell them you won't be doing any further business with the company.
    2. If your not a progressive customer use their contact form [progressive.com] and let them know what you think.
  • by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:00PM (#9933181) Homepage
    The progressive device doesn't include a GPS. So how's the device know if I'm doing 55 down a highway, or 55 down the adjacent local road blowing through red lights?

  • Data Context? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slackerboy ( 73121 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:01PM (#9933197)
    According to the article: In Minnesota, where the highway speed limit is 70 mph, drivers who go over 75 less than 0.1% of the time get an extra 5% discount.

    So what happens with the guy that always drives 60, but only drives in the 25MPH school zones? Data without context is worthless!

    Plus, on a $1200 annual insurance bill, you'd only save $60 by giving up your privacy...
  • by Moooo Cow ( 79655 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:01PM (#9933203)
    I'm an independent computer consultant, probably like a lot of other Slashdot readers. So, put your business hat on and consider this from that perspective.

    Suppose you're bidding on a contract to upgrade/replace a computer system for a potential customer. In order to give a proper cost estimate, you'll need to know as much detail as possible about the requirements. Perhaps this would include something like the average number of transactions per day performed. If all the customer can do is say that there is "a bunch" of transactions, your estimate will be very approximate, and you'll have to pad it accordingly or add a large contingency factor.

    However, if the customer could produce for you an automated log of all daily transaction counts for the last month, you would have a precise understanding of what to expect, and could estimate accordingly. This may result in a lower estimated cost, and increase your chances of winning the bid.

    Essentially, this is what Progressive is doing - they are asking for more detailed information in an effort to win your continuing business. If you don't provide that information, that's fine... but then they will have to rely on a more approximate estimate of risk, and the quote they provide you with will likely be higher based on less precise information. If you're a prudent businessperson, you'd be trying to do the same thing whereever you can.
  • Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by splerdu ( 187709 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:09PM (#9933309)
    I've always maintained that there's a big difference between driving fast and driving dangerously.
  • Ahead of the curve (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maximilln ( 654768 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:09PM (#9933315) Homepage Journal
    I'm already ahead of the curve. I ditched my car and started using public transportation and the ankle express because the automotive and insurance industries had already squeezed the last drop out of this turnip.

    Sure, I walk more, and get derided by my coworkers, and have to put up with horrible commuting hours, and have to carry an umbrella every time I go somewhere (just in case), and get demeaning looks from everyone in society...

    But it has nothing to do with social classes, or social engineering, or rich vs. poor, because ultimately it's my choice. No one is forcing me not to have a car. No one's forcing me to walk everywhere. I still get the same opportunities that everyone else gets. I have yet to be turned down by any hot chick who has subsequently been picked up by a "responsible citizen" who owns their own transportation. There are no hidden systems at play.
  • by Billy the Mountain ( 225541 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:09PM (#9933316) Journal
    It's just like grocery store member cards, you start using them, you save right? Wrong, initially, maybe, but now, by using them, you're paying what you would have paid before the program existed and if you don't use the card you're hosed.

    Same thing with this: You start out saving money, prices creep back up to normal. Those that refuse to submit to the program are hosed.

  • Fasle Sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:11PM (#9933340)
    What are they thinking?

    Not only is there obviously possible entrapment but what data exists that driving at the exact speed limit makes you a safer driver?

    There are many other situations this will not cover: changing lanes without a turn signal, running lights, tail gaiting, driving *under* the speed limit (which can be just as unsafe), and drive-by shooting?

    All of these could be more unsafe than going 10 MPH over the limit. Are they going to start monitoring that too? Will they forward high speeds to the police to fine you? What I would like to know is who will be monitoring the insurance agents' cars ... or will their devices be rigged?
  • by harpoon ( 12639 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:12PM (#9933352)
    Sure, just give the box registered in your name to your mother, or grandmother.

    Alternatively, turn the box on only for "safe days", i.e. when you're driving slow because of traffic or alcohol consumption.
  • by Armchair Dissident ( 557503 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @04:13PM (#9933371) Homepage
    How does it know you're breaking the law, and where's my right of appeal? There's no mention as to the accuracy of the program. If - for example - I'm driving from a 40mph limit into a 30mph limit, and I hit 30 just before or just after the 30 sign post, do I take a hit on my premium?

    What if they get it wrong? Do I have a right to appeal?

    I complain regularly about speeding drivers [armchairdissident.com], but this is not a good solution!

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.