In-Car Surveillance Cam Gives Parents Peek Into Teen Driving Habits

from the they're-watching dept

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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Comments on “In-Car Surveillance Cam Gives Parents Peek Into Teen Driving Habits”

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Brad says:

Re: How it Captures BEFORE

It’s always recording, it just saves the last ten seconds of data when it experiences a rapid deceleration…

Many cars already have this kind of technology embedded in them (think corvettes) that store the last 20 seconds of data (I think that’s right).

With cheap GPS chip sets and plenty of computing power available within a car it won’t be long before your entire driving history (accleration, deceleration, orgination and destination and time) can/will be stored. All in the name of “lower” rates — but when was the last time anything got cheaper? It’ll just allow them to punish “bad” drivers and increase their margins through fewer (or dispute more) claims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Lets say it records sixty seconds. So at any time, you could go back sixty seconds. It is not knowing the future, just simply not dumping the data after it has been recorded, instead using an accelerometer to know when to save the video, and thus it will go back and save 10 seconds before the incident. (Again which has already been recorded)

Disgusted says:

Are we kidding here?

Does anyone honestly believe that the God Damned Insurance companies aren’t going to watch all they can to raise our rates? I for one will boycott this shit.
Another ploy to violate our privacy and catch me doing 90 on the way home. Screw you Insurance companies, eh. nothing a BB gun cant fix… I’ll tell you one thing anytime I see one of those things I will shoot it out… TRY ME.

shane says:


this does help bigger companies with insurance. Everybody knows a labeled truck is good for some neck injury money. The company i work for has them in their truck, forward and rear facing. It helps in court. count twenty once in a while while you are driving, that is a lot of info.

i don’t personaly enjoy having the camera in the truck with me, but it has saved my butt a twice now.
Person pulling out on me once and another time while the truck was parked another car with a faulty e brake rolled into my truck… it looked like my fault but video showed otherwise.

James says:

I'm ok with this..

.. that is of course, assuming its optional, and how it works is CLEARLY spelled out. The lack of privacy is very disturbing when its hidden, but if you know about it up front at least you can make informed choices.

Also, the insurance companies might be able to offer some younger drivers an added discount for adding the camera if it shows it makes them safer. That could be a big bonus for some of them who pay very high rates by being lumped into a category of potentially higher-risk drivers.

misanthropic humanist says:

half the picture

I can really only comment on this from a psychological and logical position.

Cameras with recording devices can only establish visible facts after the event. Those facts are limited to the field of view and the timeframe of sampling, nothing more.

The false assumption is that surveillance can prevent accidents or crimes. It cannot. You are no safer on an urban street covered by 10 cameras than on an empty country trail. You may enjoy an illusion of safety, but that is all you have. Sure, the camera may be of use to a detective in apprehending a criminal after the fact. That’s no use to the victim if the crime is robbery, assualt, rape or murder. All that a recording does is ensure that the victim and their family can now suffer the indignity of having the crime shown to complete strangers on YouTube or Crimewatch television for their voyeuristic titillation.

When it comes to road safety the same truths hold. The camera will not improve driving or reduce the occurance of dangerous events in the environment. It merely enables a person to later observe a very partial and subjective representation of what happened.

Of course I agree with James and others that this might actually be rather useful. If admissable it is a useful witness in an accident.

However, we should remember that insurance companies are not courts of law. They have no mandate to pass any kind of judgement based soley on the evidence of an installed camera. In a disputed RTA the insurance company can only base its settlement on the decision of a legal court or tribunal. Therefore it is only useful to the driver if the courts accept this footage as admissable evidence.

Which leads to an interesting question. Who owns that footage? If two vehicles are involved in a RTA can the court sopeana the footage from one of the parties?

Essentially the video footage obtained must remain the property of the driver who must be able to take a copy whenever they so wish. Having a “closed” system where the insurance company install a black box into the vehicle which only they can access is not an acceptable proposal, while one which serves the driver is acceptable and would provide a good motive for them to install the device.

The folly is to believe that any video footage gives a complete picture of events. It may give an impartial picture, but not a complete one.
Ultimately the evidence of real human beings at the scene must always trump what is captured on a camera with a limited field of view.

Tyshaun says:

I used to work with a lot of security experts and I remember all of them saying the same thing about surveillance, primarily it’s decent at detterance as long as people remember (or even know) they are under it, but it’s primary role is to serve as proof for incidents that have already happened.

While this technology may result in marginal savings for those who volunteer for it (more than likely, however, all rates will go up and the “discount” will be the currnt rate), the major winner of this technology will be insurance companies and the legal system which has another data point for when accidents happen. Guess what, since the video camera will probably be pointed at the drivers it will be lousy at proving your innocense but very good at pointing out when it’s your fault.

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