While lawmakers continue to explore pointless laws and increased surveillance as means of improving road safety, one insurance company is experimenting with a new approach to get people to drive better. When the company sells insurance for teen drivers, it's offering to install a camera inside the car that parents can watch to monitor their kids' driving skills. The camera doesn't record everything, rather it only captures 10 seconds before and after a major event, such as a rapid deceleration. The point isn't to catch teens driving badly, rather it's to deter them from driving badly in the first place. And according to those who have participated in a study, the camera does have a deterrent effect. This of course raises all sorts of other issues. Will the insurance company watch the video or use its content to set rates? They say no, but it's conceivable that down the road, the company might be able to offer lower rates to those drivers that agree to have a camera installed. It's also the kind of thing that teen drivers aren't going to like very much, although the fact that it's not recording everything they do in the car might make it a bit more palatable. And if the driver gets the bright idea of taking down the camera, or covering it up, the parents will find out rather quickly. Still, even if this particular form of surveillance is less offensive than others, because it's voluntary, it still fits in with a broader societal theme, whereby safety, or the perception of it, trumps any other considerations.
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