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Rental Car + GPS = Speeding Ticket 748

Posted by michael
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
Heem writes: "In an interesting use of GPS technology, it appears that ACME Rent-A-Car is fining customers that exceed the speed limit. Raises a lot of questions about accuracy and margin of error..." GPS is a double-edged sword. Ah, sonny, I remember the days when it was possible to go over 55 mph...
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Rental Car + GPS = Speeding Ticket

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Imagine if you will a drive down an empty highway at 95 mph. The GPS picks up the fact that you are speeding and calls the police and alerts them to your location... You get pulled over and get a ticket...

    Now imagine that your are driving 55 mph down the same empty highway and GPS is not functioning properly... The GPS still calls the police and you get a ticket... You are now going to have to prove that the GPS is not functioning properly.

    This seems that there is a lot of potential for abuse with this...

    Here are some other things to ponder...
    Can you use a GPS as evidence in court as evidence that you are not speeding in rural areas where you are more likely to get caught in a speed trap?

    How long until there are used in accident investigations and reconstruction?

    -Just because you does not mean that you should...

  • Heh, We've got one down here that won't trigger on my truck. I remember I was wanting to make a right turn, and for some reason the intersection has a no turn on red sign (for no reason that I can see either, you can see about a mile down the road in every direction from the intersection, and the speed limit is only 35). Anyway, I ended up waiting through 3 cycles of the light before finally running right on the red. It's doubly frustrating that the police station is about half a block from that light.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Kind of ironic this comment coming from somebody with the Slashdot id of "mp3car". Last time I looked, those car MP3 players required a lot more eyes-down time than monitoring your speedo with their fancy id3 tag displays and graphical eq and all that distracting crap.

    If you can't watch the road and the speedo at the same time, I suggest you take your driver's license, go the nearest police station, and say "please take this away from me, I'm too stupid to drive".

    While you're at it, you might enquire about their .38 caliber "I'm too stupid to live" plan too.


    --
  • This would be a good candidate for RISKS. This month's issue of "GPS World" has an article from a research team in Adelaide (Oz), which is working on an urban tracking system for vehicles. Small problem: in urban areas, GPS coverage tends to be spotty. The article described how it was necessary to include inertial tracking hardware and accelerometers in the system, with all three components working together to figure out when the others were providing bad information. Otherwise, the GPS would tend to show things like the vehicle going from 0-120 km/hr in 10 meters.

    Not bad for a minivan.

    sPh
  • Has to be somewhere in the inside the coach part of the car or on the top of the vehicle in a relatively unobstructed place.

    RF is blocked by metal of any kind- if they don't put this thing in some place that could be relatively easy for someone clever to find it's not going to work well- if at all.

    Furthermore, since this uses Cell/PCS tech to communicate back to home, one could come up with a gadget that sourced about a microwatt or so of broadband RF power intended to be clipped to the antenna of the cell link that it uses. The little gadget's signal shouldn't be powerful enough to block most cell setups, but would swamp the targeted cell unit for the AirIQ system so that it'd be effectively deaf and dumb. (NOTE: I did not say that this was a good idea or that someone should set out to do this- it's just that it's very possible.)
  • 1) This is not law enforcement stuff. This is a rental company setting up a GPS/Speed Monitoring system tied to a central computer via mobile phone.

    2) DMCA only applies to circumvention in the sense of copyright infringement. Blocking a signal isn't copyright infringement.

    The most that this could be deemed is breach of contract- but I'll bet they can't/won't put language in there in that regard as hitting someone for the system never checking in because the mobile phone system was dead during the duration of the rental (which CAN happen) would cost them more than they lose in the form of a counter suit.
  • Someone even provided knowlege of the toys that you can use to do this. (Again, I am NOT advocating this! It's merely pointing out that someone clever could think of it and do it as easily as not.)
  • Speeding is defined in most jurisdictions as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the amount of violation of the regulation in question. You have to enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, no contest when dealing with a speeding ticket. Guilty is obvious. No contest means you don't agree with the citation but you're not going to bother with the presentation of a case regarding the violation. Not guilty results in a court case being heard by a judge. In Texas, if you're doing something like 40 or so over the speed limit, it's deemed a felony and they'll haul you off to the clink- same story for Oklahoma and quite a few other states.
  • Contracts are invalid if they make stipulations that are not legal (civil or criminal law) or require/involve illegal acts- PERIOD. It remains to be seen if the contract is legal- it matters little if it's their property if what they're stipulating can't be done by them.
  • It's my understanding that legally they can't immediately charge his card for things not explicitly ennumerated up front on the transaction. Even though they claim that there will be a $150 per incident fine for excessive speed, since it's not ennumerated for each instance until they occur. They have to tell him up-front that they're going to charge him for the extra before EVER doing it.

    Technically, the rental company can't charge for those- it's analogous to a Wal-Mart discovering that they undercharged you for something, taking your credit card number and charging the difference to your account.
  • give the rest of motorcyclists a bad name. You are a street pizza waiting to happen. Jerks like you are almost always wearing a tanktop, shorts, and sandals. Can you say goodbye to 95% of your skin? I thought you could.



    Vermifax

  • The answer is obvious: the device will allow you to exceed the speed limit for short periods of time in order to get out of emergency situations. Even if it is a minute or so this is pretty useless for people who want to speed but does not affect safety at all.

    This argument against such devices is totally bogus. However it still does not mean they are a good idea.

  • Either way, I think it's a great idea, and a leap forward to the day when we can detect aggressive driving on the fly and deactivate the vehicle remotely.

    There is a considerable difference between driving faster than a posted speed limit and aggressive driving.

    Driving at the posted 55 (say) in pissing rain or 20feet visibility fog is theoretically legal, but most likely far more dangerous to all concerned than someone doing 70 on a clear day on the same road with good visibility.

    I propose that organisations promoting these types of device for general use (not just for rentals), and similar radar/camera combos like we have in the UK should develop more useful detectors (stupid ass weaving between lanes without signalling cameras, stopping to pick up a lottery ticket in an already double-parked street cameras, and no-rear-view-mirrors cameras). Penalties should be education-oriented rather than entirely financial. That, or admit that it's really a fund-raiser, and not actually directly linked to road safety.

    What the world needs is better, more alert drivers, aware of their surrounding and the limits of their vehicles, not another gadget to allow them to talk on their cellphone, or hold a conversation without worrying about speeding.
    --
    the telephone rings / problem between screen and chair / thoughts of homocide
  • I read some time ago that the police do look at these things on at least some sections of the French autoroute system. I wish I knew where though - just another unsubstantiated /. post :)
    --
    the telephone rings / problem between screen and chair / thoughts of homocide
  • Frightening. If my best course of action is to floor it and accelerate to avoid an accident, I can not and will not accept a system that prevents me from exceeding a set speed. Car companies are sick of frivolous "unbuckled child in front seat dies when drunk father drives wrong way down steep one-way hill" lawsuits now. Imagine the carnage when a "big brother device prevents accident avoidance" suit hits.

    <rant tone='disgruntled'>
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Drivers' Exams in the United States suck. Pennsylvania's exam, at least in the late '80s, consisted of rote memorization of parking rules and high-beam etiquette. The road test was a trivial slalom, a three-point turn, and parallel parking. Not once was I taught about the traction circle, or the difference between front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive, especially at the handling limits. I learned more about driving from the manual that came with Gran Turismo than I did from PennDOT. Maybe if we quit entitling morons to propel 3500 lbs of steel and aluminum over 60 mph, the temptation to impose such Orwellian intrusions would go away.
    </rant>

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
  • All other things aside, people seem to be missing the fact that these things are not realtime.. There is no big board back at Acme with your locatrion on it.. The download it all out after you get back.. So basically, you're agreeing to let them know where you've taken their van, and how fast it was going..

    This is exactly the same stuff semi drivers have had for years..
  • by Moonwick (6444) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:16AM (#140242) Homepage
    GPS is accurate enough. I've actually found that it's more accurate than the speedometer in my car at high speeds.
  • Screw the speeding ding which by the way is totally arbitrary. Why do they collect for this and how did they arrive at this figure?

    The big problem is that they went and paid themselves with his money w/o asking him.
  • So, can anyone tell me whether the US police (california even) can send you a speeding ticket through the post? And when this is legal?

    I mean in the UK we have speed/radar cameras which clock you, take a photo of your license plate then you get a ticket in the mail. On the other hand, if you encounter a police car and they don't actually pull you over then you're not going to get a ticket.

    I mean, it would seem in these days that the police can just take down you details and mail you a ticket - that's what information society is bringing us.
  • by astrashe (7452) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:27AM (#140247) Journal
    What kind of a moron would rent a car from ACME when they have this kind of policy in place?

  • Only because the law doesn't have the balls to make the owner of the car (the insurer of the car) liable for the car when he willingly lends it out.

    My opinion is that if you're enough of a jackass to lend your car to someone that drives drunk, speeds, is untrained, has no license, whatever -- well, then, you deserve to be held as an accomplice when that vehicle is used to break the law.

    Lending the car out is a *choice* and if you don't want to be liable for other drivers, then don't lend the damn thing out.

    (Note that we're already partially there: if you lend it out and it gets wrecked, the insurance company is going to raise *your* rates.)

    --
  • I believe all good trucking companies are using the GPS-equipped trucks to ensure that their drivers are complying with the law: that they aren't speeding excessively, that they are taking rest-breaks regularly, that they are checking brakes before big hills, and that they are on-route and not picking up hitchhikers.

    This reduces the company's costs: maintenance and insurance costs are reduced, and they can reliably predict delivery times.

    Why else would they bother with the GPS? It'd be a waste of investment otherwise.

    --
  • Sure, there'd be a revolt...

    ...but can you imagine how much safer it would be to drive? The reduction in insurance costs would be pretty damn dramatic, too.

    If only someone had the balls to implement something like this, *plus* mandatory driver training and regular re-testing.

    My god! It'd damn near put hospitals and morgues out of business!


    --
  • by FFFish (7567)
    So what? Since when has ignorance been any sort of acceptable excuse?

    By your thinking, I should be able to stop paying my mortgage, and yet retain the house, because I didn't read the contract, and therefore it doesn't apply to me.


    --
  • If the major rental agencies ever come to realize that this will increase their bottom-line profitability, by reducing their insurance rates, car-theft rates, and accident rates, you can be damn sure they will immplement it.

    And all you fruggin whiners who figure you've got some sort of G.D. right to speed will be screwed to the wall. And thank goodness, too.


    --
  • As speed doubles, impact force quadruples.

    An impact of 75 vs 55, is an impact with nearly twice the energy.

    Speed is quite obviously a major factor in the severity of an accident.

    An impact where both drivers are speeding at 75 will have *seven* times the energy of a single-vehicle accident at 55. And that'd have to be a single vehicle hitting an immovable object, not a fencepost.

    Of course speeding isn't the (common) *cause* of accidents. But it's an *extremely significant* factor in their outcome.

    And the fact is that most of the arseholes who are speeding are just plain incompetent drivers. When they're forced to maintain pace with traffic, they put everyone at less risk, because they're not weaving in and out of traffic, nor passing.

    That's the whole point: to minimize the chances of them fucking up, and to minimize the destruction when they do.



    --
  • Oh, hey, and speaking of blind spots:

    You can minimize your blind spots, and possibly even eliminate them, by correctly adjusting your mirrors.

    Place your head against the drivers' side window, and adjust the left mirror to where it just barely doesn't show your car at all. Repeat for the right mirror, with your head positioned toward the middle of the car (ie. above the center console/parking brake).

    True, you can't see your car in the mirrors any more. But, then, that's okay: you know where your car is. Give it a week or two, and it won't seem so unnerving.

    You'll see a *lot* more of the traffic on either side of you, and your rearview covers the traffic behind you.

    In some cars, you will have *no* blind spots.


    --

  • Kinetic Energy = (1/2)*(mass)*(velocity)^2

    The mass can be disregarded, as it's constant in this case (the car is not going to become appreciably lighter as it goes faster).

    That leaves velocity-squared. Double the speed equals four times the damage when that car collides with something.

    You're free to quibble about my casual use of "impact force," but I'm not much interested in arguing cheezy-ass semantics. The original point still stands: 75kmh is nearly *twice* the collision of 55kmh, even though the speed is less than half-again as fast.


    --
  • In Massachusetts we use a version of the EZ-Pass system called FastLane. You pass through the sensors on entry and then again at the normal tollbooths and it debits your account. Both transactions have a timestamp and the distance between them is fixed so, doing the math means they can get an average speed on your trip. I've been wondering when they'll catch on to my commute being shorter than expected.
  • What inevitably happens? Going a little overboard, aren't we?

    While I'm sure a rational case can be made for maintaining or strengthening the drunk-driving laws, or how a slippery-slope argument is not particularly persuasive, you're obviously not going to bother making it. It's so much easier to just brand someone as "paranoid" than it is to actually counter their position, isn't it? That way, you don't have to worry about any of that bullshit like reason, logic, or facts. How convenient.

    Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.
  • I take issue with comparing going over the speed limit to running red lights: While going over the speed limit has only mildly been correlated with accidents (though the British government, in its campaign to reduce car speeds, brought up some bogus stats to try to make the case for that), going through red lights is absolutely dangerous and is the result of many injuries and deaths. Here in the greater Toronto area (GTA) there has been a huge push to install red-light cameras and there is little or no public opposition (it's very unlike a GPS planted in your car anyways: Your own property is not giving you up, but rather an external unit is). Quite contrary though there was a huge public outroar about a previous initiative that saw them parking radar vans on the side of highways and racking up hundreds of fines for people marginally over the speed limit.

  • Actually, there's hard evidence to support your position.

    Just before the USDOT lifted the limits on interstate speeds, results from a study on traffic accidents and fatalities revealed that the likelihood of being in an accident correlated with only one number - the amount of time spent driving.

    Speed, geography, road type, age, sex none of that correlated well with increased accident rates. The only thing that correlated strongly was time on the road.

    Now, fatalities on the other hand, are different. Fatality rates do correlate with speed, up to a certain point. Once you get above 60, they start to level off.

    So, the logical conclusion is, if you're going to drive freeway speeds, then you might as well drive over the limit and get there sooner!

  • They could make it work if they wanted to. Heck, in Boulder, CO, they have sensors that work for bicycles.
  • ...and how is it the rental company's responsibility to enforce it? If I drive 45 on a 35mph street, is the GPS system going to have data on every street in the city? Unlikely. And if I'm speeding, it should be the police's job to enforce the limit by issuing tickets accordingly, not the rental company's.

    If it's just a matter of people driving the cars too fast, then the rental company should install speed throttlers to ensure the car won't go over a certain top speed.

    I dunno. It all seems quite stupid to me.

  • I got a ticket in the mail with a nice picture showing my car, license plate prominent, going through a red light in Brooklyn.
    It's damn hard to contest when you actually did it and they have you on film doing it. D'Oh!
    In France, they use photo-radar, but they had to be re-engineered extensively. The reason is that they showed a picture of the front of the car, with the driver and passenger's face.
    The system had to be redone so the passenger's face wouldn't show-up, because it seems a lot of husbands getting back home would be greeted with an angry wive brandishing the speeding ticket with photo, and shouting "who was that woman with you"????

    --

  • by VValdo (10446) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:49AM (#140271)
    of course IANAL, but if you have knowlege that a crime is committed and don't report it to the authorities, doesn't that make you an accessory? Especially if you provided the tool that made the crime possible?

    Moreover, if you begin to charge the transgressor money as a result of your special knowelege of the crime, could that constitute blackmail?

    Just wondering,
    W

    -------------------
  • by jscott (11965) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:27AM (#140277) Homepage
    Well, I really like their rapid shipping.


  • The software can tell the difference between
    random GPS errs and continuous speeding.
    No need to make up sophmoric excuses for bad
    behavior.
  • Some rental locations, particluarly big urban
    centers with high accident and default problems
    have experimented with driving record and credit
    rating denials of service. A number of people
    have been peeved to fly into an airport and
    find their rental denied because they had more
    than one moving violation. The rental companies
    wont tell you in advance because it costs several
    dollars to run these searches and many reservations
    are vapor. They feel it is worth irritating a
    few percent of their customers rather than lose
    thousands on high risks.

  • talking on a cell phone while driving *should* be illegal.

    Really? I read recently that TEN TIMES as many accidents are caused by drivers being distracted by adjusting the RADIO than are caused by drivers distracted by cell phones. Shouldn't we ban car radios first, then?

    Of course, even MORE people people were distracted by "something outside of the car" than the radio. Face it, distracted drivers are dangerous, no matter what the distraction. But don't single out cell phones to blame when they're only implicated in about 1% of accidents. Just because you can see the cell phone in the driver's hand doesn't mean you know he's distracted. One could easily be more distracted by a conversation with a passenger. Shall we ban passengers in all cars as well?

    This is ridiculous.
  • nope - Montana's highway fatality rate DOUBLED after reimposing speed limits. hhttp://www.hwysafety.com/hwy_montana_2001.htm [hwysafety.com]
  • by Silver A (13776) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:36AM (#140286)
    Everytime you speed, you run the risk of killing someone.

    Not speeding is risky, too, especially on wide-open freeways designed to be travelled at 75 mph in cars which didn't handle as well as cars do today. I don't get too incensed about red-light monitors, but the speed laws in most of the US are incredibly irrational, and designed to raise revenue or facilitate police harrassment. If the speed limit on California freeways defaulted to 90, with lower speed limits (like 70 to 85) on the older ones with tighter turns, etc., I could respect them; but right now, the only thing which keeps me at the speed limit on a freeway is heavy traffic.

  • The technical term for a debit card is "dumbass card". The risks of using these cards is so vast is isn't even funny. I can't believe that they are even legal. It's is exactly as bad as including a book of blank pre-signed checks with every payment you make.

    If he had used a credit card, he could have just refused to pay. Then, it would be ACME that has to go to court and justify the $450.00. But, since he used a debit card he is probably SOL. Even if he gets his $450 back, he'll have to give it to his lawyer. Also, notice that it says his account was "drained". It's quite possible that ACME just took as much money as it could. If he had had $4500 in his account, they probably would be claiming that they clocked him speeding 30 times instead of three.

    "Yes, your honor. He was speeding at 4:13, again at 4:17-4:18, 4:20-4:23, etc. etc. It's all here in the logs."

    Bah. I have no sympathy for the rental company, and hope the guy gets his money back. But, he is a dope for using a debit card.
  • No, they are not the same thing at all. Getting a bill for $450 dollars is not the same thing as having all the money taken out of your checking account without your knowledge or consent. I think what you mean is that, in theory, they are the same. In fact, they are not the same at all. In one case, you are in the very strong barganing position of requiring the other party to sue you if they want to force you to give up the money. In the other case, you are in the very weak position of being A) broke, and B) having to convince either them or your bank to give the money back.

    If you still are not convinced, compare these two scenarios:
    1) I send you a bogus bill for $500 dollars.
    2) I steal $500 dollars in cash from you.

    If you think these are the same, you live in a fantasy land. Debit cards are just a way for Visa et al. to get the benefit of credit cards (a tax on all purchases) without any of the risk (fraudulent use and bad debt.) They are not for the consumers benefit at all.
  • by sharkey (16670) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @02:53PM (#140301)
    I agree. Unfortunately, *every* time I tell a police officer this, I get slapped with a ticket.

    Really. What ELSE do you say to the cop? I just get handed a ticket if I get pulled over, no hitting involved.

    --
  • GPS used to have a 'feature' called select availability which could mess up your location readings by miles in some cases. In 2000 Mr. Clinton signed a bill that got rid of that 'feature' and enabled all of us to use our GPS devices with a great amount of stability.

    I use my gps a lot when I go on Geocaching [geocaching.com] excursions. I have noticed that when traveling long distances my location jumps a lot on the screen. Sometimes my car manages to lose a signal and then, BANG, I'm going 120 when my GPS is trying to catch back up with where my car really is.

    I don't understand how any company can reasonably believe that they can accurately track a persons SPEED with GPS. The locations are typically accurate to a matter of feet. Sometimes the accuracy can get up to a matter of yards or miles. It all depends on the terrain you are in (Trees, etc), as well as how many of those GOVERNMENT OWNED satellites are within sight range of your GPS.

    Somehow I doubt that this car rental agency has their own ring of satellites up in orbit that have an accuracy of mere inches. Furthermore, if this system does exist, it would have to be not only accurate but absolutely fool proof. There could be no error at all in any measurements.

    If they had that, they would quickly be out of the car rental business and have a lot of people knocking on their door for service.

    -S

    Scott Ruttencutter
  • I sure as hell won't rent from them.
  • Then you'd get a ticket or even arrested for tamering with law enforcment equipment. Or worse yet, get busted under the DCMA for circumventing encrypted copyrighted data (since I'm sure they've copyrighted the GPS streams from the satalites..)
  • by Pope (17780) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:41AM (#140308)
    Ban Arby's!
  • No, I'm sorry. That's not good enough.
    Ever rented a car? They explain each detail to you, and ask for initials in several spots to indicate that they've explained the contract to you, including what happens when you encounter photo-radar (if it's in your jurisdiction), what happens when you get tickets, etc...

    Suddenly adding a line to the contract about speed monitoring by gps and not TELLING anyone is tantamount to fraud.

    Besides, for what reason do they collect monetary damages for this?
  • Yes. The gas thing is standard. Any time I rent a car, from Hertz, or Budget, they explained this to me very clearly, intial here to indicate that you understand that if you do not fill the car up before bringing it back, we chareg $3.50/gallon or whatever. It was *clearly and explicitly explained to me*

    I've never had my rate changed, sorry. I get it very clearly from them what it will cost in the end. The troubles you have with this are no different than troubles at any other computer-drive powerless-clerk type agency.
  • I see a world of difference between this and mandatory speeding checks. This is not about speed limits; it is about a contractual limit beyond which you are not supposed to drive the car. I agree it's stupid, and I wouldn't rent from them, however...

    Again, this isn't about posted speed limits, this is about the company saying 'you are not to drive this car faster than 55mph, or we'll fine you each time'.

    As for your 'blind' ticket... what's that? Like photo-radar? Unfortunately.... the speed limit is still the speed limit pal. Yes, going with the flow can be used as a defense, but I doubt you were in a huge pack of cars when this happened. And if you were saving a life? You were *still* speeding.

    I have so little sympathy for photo-radar whiners; no, I don't like photo radar, but I've seen so many people grumble about how it's 'wrong' while they speed to work at 20kph over the posted limit. Whee... it's like 'Goddamn bank security cameras! They interefere with my robbing the place!'

  • This is a hot topic right now in the UK and Europe. Under current laws in both Scotland and England (different legal systems, incidentally), it's a offence to refuse to tell the police if you were driving a car at a given time.

    So just use the Ronald Reagan defense when asked that sort of question.

    Officer: "Were you driving your vehicle at 8:52 AM on April 19, 2001?"

    You: "I don't remember."

  • I feel completely justified when I run the red light by my house at 3AM and here's why:

    That light *only* switches with sensors - it doesn't have a scheduled change pattern. It's also a "No Turn on Red" intersection. Problem is, it sometimes doesn't detect my little Miata.

    The first couple months that I lived there, I would wait at the light until it changed. I once waited for 15 minutes until somebody in a truck pulled up behind me.

    AFAIK, that's perfectly legal. The laws in all the states I know of make an exception for people running red lights when it is apparent that the light is malfunctioning. I think the rule is that if the light stays red for more than two minutes, you can treat the light as a stop sign and go after looking to make sure the way is clear.

  • In some small towns (the ones that make traffic fines a main revenue source,) the lights going through the main drag would be synchronized and timed so they change in sequence, ostensibly for giving drivers a nice series of greens. Then they would set the yellow durations to 5 seconds on all the lights, except the last one, which would have a 2 second yellow duration. Of course, a cop would be waiting to nail the person who made it through all the 5 second yellows, but didn't make that last yellow.

  • You must have a blast at Blockbuster when you return movies late.

    That reminds me of a friend of mine who got unjustly fired by Blockbuster. How did he get back at them? Some people collect stamps or antique cars or computers. My friend collects Blockbuster late-fees. He rents from a Blockbuster and deliberately keeps the movie late a few days (or months.) He keeps doing this until the Blockbuster stops allowing him to rent. He then moves on to another Blockbuster doing the same thing (the various stores don't share their late fee lists.) He won't pay the late fees until the collection agencies call and threaten to break his kneecaps. So far he's accumulated hundreds of dollars of late fees, hasn't paid a cent of them yet, and is working hard on increasing his collection. :)

  • The way ACME set the box up, when they do a remote shutdown of a vehicle, the box lets the driver keep driving until he parks & shuts off the ignition. Then it won't start up again.

    Talk about Big Brother. I don't care what justification a company has about using this kind of technology. I deeply resent the idea of having every move of mine monitored. As long as I return the car in the same condition as it was before I rented it, where I drive or how fast I go is none of their damn business.

  • If you have a series of positions measured at discrete times, it's very very easy to get velocity. V=ds/dt where s is position and t is time. Take your change in s (your last two position fixes) and the time interval of the measurements, divide, and you've got an excellent approximation of your instantaneous velocity.

    Making a microprocessor do this is trivial. Sending that number over a radio is also trivial. Your thought that the costs of implementing such a system would be prohibitive is incorrect, since the article says that it HAS been implemented, and rather widely.
  • If they were to do that, then nobody would use FastLane.


    What I have thought would be an interesting use of FastLane data is real-time traffic monitoring. Assuming that FastLane users are a representative sample of all drivers (which may or may not be the case), a system like MapQuest could know what the true current average and dev. speeds were on major roads and give predictions accordingly, etc... There are dozens of good ways the data could be used.

    --Ben

  • Even without EZ-Pass or FastLane, the ticket you get when you enter a toll road is time-stamped so the same issues exist with the ``old way''

    --Ben
  • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:42AM (#140330) Homepage
    "Someday we'll be able to just switch off those retarded SUV drivers on the freeway with the push of a button!"

    If more than X people in a certain time period type in your plate number to some little keypad, then your car is alerted that it has recieved a "Time Out". You have 5 minutes to pull over and turn your car off. After giving you a few minutes to think about what a naughty boy you've been (or load an AK), you can start driving again. You could get the system sponsored by "Survivor". It would be huge.

    -B
  • by Goody (23843) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:14AM (#140333) Journal
    A big piece of aluminum foil wrapped over the GPS unit. Problem solved. Big Brother has been been 'foiled' again.... :)

  • Red Light cameras are very popular in the UK, most intersections in London have red light cameras. There are also bus lane cameras (UK doesn't have car pool lanes yet).

    When I moved to California I was shocked to see the number of people who jump red lights (and I'm not talking about right turn on red - these are mainly left over busy intersections) and I quickly realised it is because of the lack or red light cameras.

    I understand that some states in the US belive these aren't legal - I don't understand why that can be the case you were clearly breaking the law and in many cases intentionally doing it. What is unconstitutional about getting caught by a device rather than a policeman ?
  • texas has that law, double the fine if it's a work zone, but i've noticed that recently they've been adding a sign to the bottom of the warnings that says "when work crews are present".
  • Come on guys. The guy was going 90 MPH. Unless he was the only person on the road, he was endangering countless lives other than his own. He was also endangering ACME's minivan. I would feel for the guy if he was boned for going 56 mph three times. But I will never feel sorry for a guy who was flagerently violating the law. He was also flagerently violating his rental agreement.

    Also note, the article in no ways indicates the guy is disputing the fact that he was going 90 MPH. His only complaint is that he didn't know it would cost him so dearly.

    If I owned the rental car company, I would look into this system. Not to track every car going 5 mph over the limit, but to prevent people from going 30 mph over the limit.

    quack
  • by AntiFreeze (31247) <antifreeze42@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:17AM (#140353) Homepage Journal
    What I'm wonderring is really quite simple.

    When they fine you, will they also notify the police that you were speeding?

    Eh? Just seems shady to me. No speeding ticket, the police don't get notified, and the rental company gets paid. And as a bonus, if you get pulled over by the cops, you get to pay both the police and the rental company. What an amazing business plan guys!

    ---
  • The police do something similiar to this in New York. At random street corners throughout parts of the city, there's a hidden camera in a lamppost and a pressure trigger on the ground. When the light is red and your car goes over the trigger on the ground, the camera snaps a picture of your license plate.

    I got a ticket in the mail with a nice picture showing my car, license plate prominent, going through a red light in Brooklyn.

    It's damn hard to contest when you actually did it and they have you on film doing it. D'Oh!

    Of course, there are ways to fool the system. I know people who started shalacking [sic] their license plates with some reflective coating, so that when a picture was taken, all that one could see was a bright blur.

    So the question is how would one get around the GPS sytem if it were imposed? Because even if you could somehow keep the GPS system from telling the central station that you were speeding, you'd now be the only person on the road going above the speed limit, making it very easy for a cop to spot you and pull you over. I guess the trick would be to have the GPS system tell the station that you were a different car, and then you could go marginally above the speed limit without being stopped. I don't know. And I'm really rambling nonsensically now. So I'll stop.

    ---

  • by coyote-san (38515) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @12:18PM (#140373)
    You say that the contract doesn't need any way to appeal a charge, since it's not a court of law?

    Guess what? YOU WILL END UP IN A COURT OF LAW with that attitude. All the vict... customer has to do is sign an document claiming that the $150 "surcharge" was fradulent and very few (read: no) bank won't take it seriously. The charge will be reversed and it will be up to YOU to prove to a court, not the bank, that the charge is valid and enforceable under the contract.

    Once you're in a real court you'll have to deal with real issues. E.g., the last time I hit 90 on an interstate it was because some asshole in a SUV was busy chewing out his children... and his foot pressed down on the accelerator as he twisted around in his seat. I was in front of him, and blocked by traffic and the K-bar from changing lanes. I had floored the accelerator, and was literally bracing for impact, when the wife (I believe) finally let the driver know that he was about to kill them all.

    To this day I think I made a mistake by not immediately calling the *DUI on my celphone. Maybe he wasn't drunk, but he was just as dangerous as he drive down I-5 in heavy traffic with no attention to what was in front of him.

    Let's say this gets to court. On the one hand is ACME saying that the contract requires a $150 fine for excessive speed. No exceptions. Technologie uber alles.

    On the other hand is a breathing human being with a clean driving record. He testisfies that he felt the choice was simple: speed, or be rear-ended on a busy interstate at 65+ MPH. At best, the rental car would be totalled. (And it would NOT be chargeable against the vehicle renter since he was rear-ended while driving in a safe and legal manner.) But there was enough traffic that this would probably trigger a chain reaction and many people would be seriously injured or killed.

    That's an absolute no-brainer, and if ACME's lawyers were stupid enough to actually take the case to court a judge might decide that the ENTIRE contract is unenforceable because it shocks the sensibility. You can't claim that the fine is "for safety" while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge that in rare conditions (this was the first time I've experienced this in over 20 years of driving) it's critical to avoid a deadly collision.

    The author of a contract might try to ignore this, but a court of law deciding enforceability of a contract will not. And if the contract is invalidated, the company has much more to lose. (E.g., do all current renters suddenly become de facto owners of their cars? They paid money for the car, after all...)
  • by xtal (49134) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:36AM (#140403)

    Don't worry about it. I used to develop GIS applications, and we did a lot of projects with GPS recievers. They're touchy as all hell, and you always lose connections here and there. It would be EXTREMELY EASY to disable the (requrired) antenna, either with a switch or via electronic means (coupling noise, etc). This makes it unfeasible. You could even get slicker than that and spoof your signal, anyhow.

    I don't think it'll ever happen. I wouldn't stand for it, that infringes on my freedom to the point where I'm willing to stand up in front of a judge, and I think a lot of other people (in North America) feel the same way. Safe speeds on freeways are often 20-30km/h above posted in traffic.

  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:35AM (#140404)
    Or, if your speed decreases from, say 50 mph, to 0 mph within 1 second, (and perhaps the same happened to another car very close to you) perhaps they can automatically dispatch an ambulance or something.
  • by tentac1e (62936) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:05AM (#140427) Journal
    Good. And neither does this device.

    This device judges speeding based on a dealer defined limit. Why dealer defined? Because it would cost too much to have the system automatically detect when the driver has broken the speed limit for each particular speed zone. The positive part of this is that you're welcome to speed 55 miles per hour in a school zone, if you wish, and this system won't detect it.

    Don't you think it's a little suspicious that they only cite the times the individual sped over 90 mph? Does this mean he only sped 3 times? No. This means that these were the only times he went so far above the speed limit that it triggered the built in snitching device.

    Chances are, the only reason this device uses a GPS is to make sure that these incidents of speeding were so spaced apart that there could be no doubt that these were 3 seperate occasions.

  • by tentac1e (62936) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:41AM (#140428) Journal
    The highlight of the article is the statement: "Fine, that's where locator types of GPS come in. But why does Acme use speed tracking?"

    This article is laughable. One only look at the facts that surround the situation to understand how badly ACME is being skewed.

    We have a man who was informed on the contract that he signed that he would be fined $150 for each incident of speeding with their vehicle. He was informed that there was a tracking system installed on the van. What's his excuse? He glossed over the statements.

    You might, possibly, argue the statement of a GPS being located on the van does not necessarily imply that he would be autonomously monitored. It doesn't matter. What we have here is a private institution being told they can't monitor when their property is placed in danger. This safety device only goes off after the vehicle has broken its speed limit. This device does not monitor a driver's habits, despite what I'm sure someone will soon scream despite not having read the article. This device only kicks in after the vehicle breaks the pre-determined speed limit, as decided upon by the rental agency.

    Since we're major advocates of consumer privacy, even at the cost of private property, how about we remove smoke detectors in hotels?

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @11:34AM (#140433)
    > Everytime you speed, you run the risk of killing someone.

    Bullshit.

    You can run the risk of killing someone while driving BELOW the speed limit. (i.e. rainy or winter driving conditions, etc.)

    Speeding != driving reckless.

    Speeding is a VICTIMLESS crime, which should NOT be illegal.

    Now, reckless driving IS indangering someone else's life, which SHOULD be illegal (and it is.)
  • by technos (73414) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @11:08AM (#140453) Homepage Journal
    7,500 gallons?!?! Are you smoking crack? That's 0.4 miles per gallon. Take a real belcher, like the Ford Excursion. It gets 24 highway.. That's 125 gallons.

    Even my old 1979 Camaro, which got 10 mpg highway on premium because of a variety of 'enhancements' would only need 300 gallons..
  • by rkent (73434) <rkent@@@post...harvard...edu> on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:39AM (#140454)
    Taking into consideration that the standard formula for driving is 20 over Posted...

    Exactly! In some ways, I wouldn't mind if speed limits were -consistently- enforced. The way it is now, it's tacitly accepted that you go 10 over. But it's definitely illegal, so basically cops have the right to pull you over whenever they want because, hey, you WERE speeding.

    It happened to me the other day. I was driving down the road and apparently I looked like a teenager who was "Cruising," so the cop, who started off very gruff and confrontational, relaxed substantially when he discovered that I was over 21 and NOT drunk. None of that changed the fact that I was going 10 over, but that's not the real reason he stopped me; I was getting passed by people who were clearly older than me.

    Maybe it's naive to think that consistent speed limit enforcement would lead police to stop pullovers in which there was no probable cause. But at least, if speeding tickets were automatic no-brainers, it would be painfully obvious when a cop made a bullshit pullover, like DWB ("driving while black" in chicago) for instance.

    ---

  • by JEDi_ERiAN (79402) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:49AM (#140461) Homepage
    speed doesn't kill but stupid drivers do.



    how true.

    i had an experience w/ a stupid driver about 2 months ago, i was out picking up some grub at my local arby's, anyway, i was making a left hand turn (w/ my turn signal on) at a DEAD stop, and some dumb-bitch-with-an-suv-talking-on-a-cell-phone-and -not-paying-attention slams into my car doing about 50. me and my passenger were alright, only having minor injuries, the car was totaled...etc. anyway, stupid drivers are the real problem out there, and if there are any senators listening, talking on a cell phone while driving *should* be illegal.

    thnx for listening.

    E.


    -

  • by cheezus (95036) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:14AM (#140509) Homepage
    "How come you're going so slow? Can't this car go any faster?"

    "Not exactly...."

    ---

  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:12AM (#140539) Homepage
    I have a GPS in one of my cars.. And sometimes when it gets a new sat or something strange happens I might "jump" on the map as to where my location is.. That would totally screw up the stats.. Or one would think.


    --

  • by SirWhoopass (108232) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:25AM (#140551)
    I work for a transportation research laboratory. One of our scientists just came from England, where there's a project to limit the speed of vehicles. Here's a link [detr.gov.uk] to information on the project.
  • We've got an electronic toll highway here in Toronto (or, for the natives, Toe-rannah) which notes when you get onto the highway, notes when you get off of it, and calculates toll based on distance. Seeing as how they also have a timestamp, I've wondered why they don't auto-fine speeders.
    Distance travelled: 50 km. Time taken: 15 minutes. Speed limit: 100 kph. Speeding fine attached.
  • by msaulters (130992) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:21AM (#140588) Homepage
    Once again, someone fails to realize that just because we CAN do a thing, it doesn't necessarily follow that we MUST do this thing.

    This article is so full of horseshit, it makes me want to laugh... The rental agent claiming that it's about public safety, and not money? Is $150 what most people would call a mild deterrent?

    Then there's the fact that it tracks you across state lines. Even a state trooper doesn't have the right to ticket you for speeding violations just across the state line.

    Also, the article mentions that the system allows the agent to set a particular 'safe' speed on each car. Suppose the agent decides 55 is the safe speed... Do they fine you for going 65 in a 70? No mention is made of whether ACTUAL speed zones are linked to the GPS data to determine if you were ACTUALLY breking the law. That could be even scarier, since speed zones change and data in geographic systems can sometimes be incorrect... How many times a week does a site like MapQuest [mapquest.com] steer someone wrong?

    Yes, we're that much closer to big brother, and once again, we see that it is the corporate world who will bring him to life. Even if we disregard, for a moment, the threat to the constitutional right to privacy and the issues of contract law, the government by rights SHOULD step in NOW in a BIG WAY to put a stop to this. It usurps power from a countless number of state and municipal authorities. Then, supposing you DO get a 'real' ticket from the local PD, you get home and you're fined by the rental car agency? Can we say 'double jeopardy'?
  • My '97 Ford Escort has a speed regulator that won't let me get over 107Mph or so. I understand that a lot of cars have similar things these days.

    This is typically done for safety (and liability) reasons, and is specifically aimed at tire problems. Street tires have a maximum speed rating that is related to their ability to handle heat. Some common ratings are, IIRC, 107, 130, and 155 MPH (which I assume are really 170, 210, and 250 KMPH). Manufacturers will select a tire that gives an acceptable tradeoff between cost, handling, comfort, treadlife, and speed for the design of the car. If it turns out that the car's enginge and aerodynamics would let it go faster than the safe rating for the tires, they'll put in a speed limiter. That gives them some legal protection against claims that they put tires onto the car that were unsuitable for its speed capability.

    This has actually led to an aftermarket in engine control computers. Hotrodders will reprogram the engine computer to adjust the fuel injectors and the like (often as part of a more comprehensive reworking of the engine) and take out the speed limiter at the same time. Of course the people who do that will usually put on higher performance tires at the same time, so it's not a big deal, and by messing with the car that way they obviously give the manufacturer a legal defense if something bad happens.

  • by The Breeze (140484) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:29AM (#140610) Homepage
    and...it works.

    Several points have been brought up, which need to be addressed:

    1. There's "no appeals process". Wah. This is not a court of law, this is a contract. We agree to let you use a car. If you use it in a means against our contract, you owe us more $$$. Don't like it? Pay the higher rates to rent from some other agency that is busy paying high overhead because all of their cars are getting stolen.
    We get sued, every day, by people who have been injured by people who have rented cars from us, and that's WITH our stringent qualifications. Think the machine goofed? Sue us. We'll bring the records to court. People wreck our cars, EVERY SINGLE DAY, people try to steal our cars and take them to Mexico, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    2. We are a private business, protecting our interest. However, I would vehemently fight any government effort to use this technology to keep track of citizens. For those people who have been getting "red light traffic tickets", I don't know about other states, but here in Arizona we have a bunch of those monitoring things (photo radar, etc). A lot of people throw the mailed tickets into the trash. Why? They have a lot of threatening language on them, saying "you are subject to arrest if you don't respond, blah blah blah", but they don't tell you that superior/civil & city court rules here mandate that certified mail, regular mail, etc, DO NOT CONSTITUTE service of the complaint - to be valid, the ticket must be given to you by a police officer, officer of the court, process server, etc, within 120 days of the date of the incident. Consequently, in Maricopa County you can throw those tickets away because they can't afford to send process servers after everyone (although Mesa has tried it a few times). Don't believe me? Fine. Go read the court rules on what constitutes service of the complaint yourself.

    3. Back to AirIQ - on several occasions, we've had cars stolen, turned off the ignition remotely (rather, we set it so that the car can't be started again once stopped - it would be a Bad Thing(tm) to shut off a speeding vehicle with the requisite loss of power steering confusing an already drug-addled car thief), called the cops, had them circle the car, and take them away. We get our car back, the bad guys don't know what happened, and dozens of innocent pedestrians are happy instead of being smashed to pulp during a car chase. More boring for the TV news copters, but oh well.

    4. We get reports when these things cross into Mexico. We then stop renting to these people, who try to cram 20 illegal aliens into a minivan and drive them across the desert.

    5. There's a lot more to this system than the GPS crap. As stated previously, we can also shut the car off remotely.

    6. Have you READ our contracts? There's tons of stuff in there, but it boils down to:
    a. don't drive it drunk
    b. don't loan it out to other people
    c. don't drive incredibly recklessly
    d. don't take it off road or to Mexico
    e. don't rob any banks
    f. you are responsible for the car (if it gets wrecked, damaged,etc). if you have insurance, great. but, we're gonna bill ya if anything happens, or if we have good evidence that you violated the above terms.

    Don't like these terms? Fine. Show us a way to make money without them. We can't. Unlike other products, we're not just giving you something, we lay our asses on the line, liability wise, every time we do a rental.

    AirIQ is wonderful for protecting our assets, and if you don't like it, rent from some other company. I say this as someone who works occasionally with a rental car company. As a private citizen, I believe that this level of detailed monitoring would be inappropiate for privately owned property that you own - i.e., the government should not be allowed to do this.
    We routinely send notices out (we don't actually bill $$$) to people who exceed 90 MPH for 60 seconds (we understand that sometimes people have to speed a LOT to pass) saying, "do it again and we won't rent to you anymore".
    We don't bill them, it's not worth the trouble for us, we just put them on the do not rent list. We do, however, have the right to put charges on the credit card, i.e., cleaning fees.
    A company can put any charge they want on your cc if you sign a contract allowing them to.

    7. Someone mentioned "this would make the rental car company an accessory" - not true. Speeding is generally a CIVIL violation, although there is also criminal speeding; however, the rental car company in this case is not enforcing a law, but rather collecting a penalty for violating our contract. The action may have violated a civil law, but an entity is not obligated to report civil violations. And, there is not enough evidence to file a criminal charge! You see, when you sign our contract, YOU are agreeing to be responsible for OUR card! WHATEVER our car does, you are legally responsible, TO US, for...however, from a legal standpoint of CRIMINAL charges, it would be very difficult to prove that YOU were driving at the time of the criminal violation. We know our car was speeding, we know you signed a paper agreeing to ensure that you would take care of the car. Thus, you owe us money. We cannot, however, go to law enforcement and say, "this person was speeding" because we have no evidence of WHO was driving the car and you can't file criminal charges against a car, only a driver.
    As a practical matter, the cops would laugh at us if we tried.

    Hope this clarifies some things.

  • I've often thought it would be beneficial to have unmarked cars roving around with trained observers from the local motor vehicle authority doing real time grading of current driver's license holders.

    Ooh, you're onto something. Moderated driving:

    Score: -1 Off-Road

    Would it be a good thing to have a high Driving Karma, if it were all due to +1 Funny scores, though?

  • by Lizard_King (149713) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:22AM (#140628) Journal
    Taking into consideration that the standard formula for driving is 20 over Posted

    I agree. Unfortunately, *every* time I tell a police officer this, I get slapped with a ticket.

    Jeez
  • by SnapShot (171582) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:01AM (#140653)
    Or, if your speed decreases from, say 50 mph, to 0 mph within 1 second, (and perhaps the same happened to another car very close to you) perhaps they can automatically dispatch an ambulance or something.

    Better idea that doesn't invade privacy... Put a GPS on every telephone pole. Send an ambulance if the telephone pole accelerates from 0 mph to 50 mph within a second.

  • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:28AM (#140670)
    So Acme wants to tell you how you can use their car. What's the problem with this? Now, the contract clearly states there is a $150 fee per speeding incursion. If you don't those terms, don't rent.

    There's a number of problems:

    • (as explicitly enumerated in the article) inadequate disclosure
    • (as explicitly enumerated in the article) no appeals process
    • (as mentioned in other comments) problems with GPS "jumping" as you switch satelites
    • no notification before the money is withdrawn from your account
    • how much should be withdrawn is solely up to the judgement of the rental agency

    Plus, there's the obvious issue that, in order to effectively vote with their money, consumers need to be informed. This story is helping to serve that purpose.

    I do agree that it's Acme's car and they may stipulate how you use it. But that doesn't mean I'm particularly happy with the manner that they went about it. Furthermore, it's possible for them to be engaging in legal business practices that're still considered deceptive in nature.

  • I have a couple of issues with your post. The first is the tone. While I'm going to guess this was an attempt to provide a defence, it seems to echo a unsettling sentiment being shared by more and more companies: We assume all of our customers are crooks.

    Of course, this bothers me. I rent cars on a pretty frequent basis. When I was under 25 I was deeply frustrated in trying to find a company to rent to me. I don't excessivly speed, I don't drive recklessly... and I try to take care of rental cars as if they were my own. I would think that the majority of people share my views. Yes, there are a few bad apples, and yes I would agree that a company should take reasonable efforts to protect their assests against loss and damage by those people.

    But I would submit the actions taken by ACME rental company goes to far. This seems less of an effort protect assests then to make quick cash. When the rental company sells it's vechicles at the end of thier useful life as a rental, do they disclose items like average speed or how many times and how often they bring the vehicle above 90? Somehow I doubt this. Do you suppose they send monthly reports to their insurance provider stating 'Our fleet was brought over 90mph 393 times this past month. We collected over $58,000. Please raise our rates accordingly'?

    But what really scares me is this: As a private citizen, I believe that this level of detailed monitoring would be inappropiate for privately owned property that you own - i.e., the government should not be allowed to do this.

    I don't own my car outright. A finance company owns it. By your logic, until I make the last payment, the finance company is in the right to install monitoring devices to 'protect' it's assests. Or, taking it a step further, a mortgage company (or in my case, the property management company I currently rent from) is perfectly justified to install cameras in my home to make sure I don't smoke in bed, throw wild partys, or do anything else that might damage 'their' property.

    Don't get me wrong. From a purly contractual viewpoint, I don't see this man as having any recourse; he signed a contract, and is therefore bound by it. My problem is that something like this should'nt be legally allowed into a contract in the first place.

    On a side note, I do quite a bit of business in the state of Arizona. I typically make my rental car reservation at the same time I book my flight. I don't suppose you'd be willing to let me know what company you work for...I'd hate to waste time at the airport trying to find another company after landing.

  • by robbway (200983) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:14AM (#140698) Journal
    Doesn't this agreement violate state laws about police powers? If you don't get a speeding ticket, regardless of GPS reading, how can you prove he was speeding? (if a tree falls in a forest...) And lastly, I know enough about GPS that there are occasional errors that could send your readings flying at an impossible rate. I wonder how much in excess of 90mph he was going? 3372mph?

    ----------------------
  • by Deanasc (201050) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @12:17PM (#140699) Homepage Journal
    I got a ticket in Montanna for going 99 MPH in a car with Massachusetts plates. I was not the fastest car on the road then but I was in the top 3. The other two had Montanna plates. It took the cop 20 minutes to catch up to me (from a dead stop.) The trooper apoligised for having to pull me over, took my AAA bail card and sent me on my way. It was kind of chickenshit of them to set the court date a week away. There was no way I was going to ruin my vacation waiting around Billings for that.

    This was back in 1998 when the posted limit was 65 night, 55 trucks, Reasonable and Prudent day. I've heard they've changed it back to posted daytime limits since then.

    Oh well. The trooper was a nice guy. If it was a Mass State trooper I'd have had my ass handed to me in jail for going 99 MPH.

    If it makes any difference to the story I was in a Mitsubishi Mirage trying to see it pinout at 120. We don't have roads straight enough in New England to get up that speed and then slow down before the curve.

    In any event, you can bet I'm never going to get a car with GPS or OnStar. In fact I'm kind of suspicious of Fuel Injection. Give me Dual Carbs any day.

  • by B00yah (213676) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:12AM (#140713) Homepage
    my friend and I were actually discussing something like this...if GPS becomes accurate enough, will the government begin to make auto manufacturers integrate these in to every vehicle, making it so they can just mail you a ticket any time you exceed the speed limit?
    Just a thought
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:46PM (#140716) Journal
    Try driving at the speed limit in highway traffic sometime. Really. Even in the slow lane. Go 55 while everyone around you is going 70, 75, 80. That 55 driver is FAR more dangerous to the situation than the 80 driver is. The key is NOT speed, it control and sense.

    There is NOTHING more inherently dangerous to driving along at 80+ MPH just as long as you're not weaving in and out of traffic and you can keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.

    -S

  • by deebaine (218719) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @11:01AM (#140721) Journal
    Everytime you run a redlight, you run the risk of killing someone.

    I could not agree more on the red light issue. There is no promise, ever, in running a red light. My friends laugh at me when I stop at lights that have been yellow for a while. I continue to do it.

    Everytime you speed, you run the risk of killing someone.

    To the extent that every time you get in a car, you run the risk of killing someone, this is true. But increasing speed does not necessarily increase the risk of accident. The death rates on the unlimited stretches of the Autobahnen in Germany have almost identical death rates to American highways. Death rates on surface roads are generally higher than on highways. When the federal speed limit was dropped, the 41 states that raised their limits saw an aggregate decrease in deaths; the nine that didn't saw an aggregate increase. This is certainly not black and white; there are statistics to back both sides, but the trite "speed kills" argument statistically doesn't wash. There's more to it than that.

    Speed doesn't kill, bad driving does. And don't tell me that because you parallel parked on the test, you know how to drive.

    -db

  • by Auckerman (223266) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:25AM (#140727)
    "Should the government or an organization be allowed to monitor your location simply because they own the means of transportation? If so, where does it end? Do they also have the right to monitor everything you say while in their vehicle?"

    The govt current does NOT have the right to "monitor your location simply because they own the means of transportation".

    But to answer a modified version of you question, "should individuals or companies have the right to monitor what you do with their car, including but not limited to 1. location 2. speed 3. what was in it 4. what you did in the car..?" I would answer yes. You have no expectation of privacy once you enter my property, especially if I notify you how I expect you to treat my car. End of story.

    If you don't like those terms, use a different car. Welcome to a free country where you can make choices.

  • by Auckerman (223266) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:34AM (#140728)
    "I never heard of it, have you?" Keyes asks. (I hadn't). She believes Acme should explain GPS (and AirIQ in particular) to customers. She believes it discriminates against technological have-nots and especially poorer people.

    "More important is the issue of due process," says Keyes. "There's no system for challenging this fine. At least when you get a ticket, the court system allows you to contest it." She claims the speeding charges are constitutionally invalid and go against public policy

    Riiiight.....I got news for this fellow, in the US, individuals are constitutional protectioned is exactly zero ways from companies. Zero. This is a clear cut case of contract law, nothing more nothing less.

    The only civil rights laws I know of that deal with companies have to do with equal treatment and access based on Race, Sex and Disabilities. Last time I checked, lack of technological prowness was not considered a and technogical access is not a basic human right. [satirewire.com]

    The fees were in the contract, he signed it. The only arguement is whether the contract was valid or invalid. This has nothing to do with rights.

  • by Auckerman (223266) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:00AM (#140729)
    The simplest solution to getting around these technological advances that allow you to get caught breaking traffice laws is to....

    Stop breaking them! Everytime you run a redlight, you run the risk of killing someone. Everytime you speed, you run the risk of killing someone. I personally have been hit by a car that ran a stop sign while riding my bicycle. I lost a friend who ran a stop sign and got side swiped.

    You would think you had a right to break traffic laws or something by the way you people bitch.

  • by chaboud (231590) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:20AM (#140756) Homepage Journal
    Coming out of a tunnel on the Penna turnpike, my eMap [garmin.com] jumped (pretty far), and I now have a top speed in its odometer of 976mph. Given that my car is only capable of travelling 145 miles in an hour, I'd have to say that I wasn't going that fast.

    Andy Green [thrustssc.com] would probably have something to say about me smashing his record though.

  • by Aztech (240868) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:25AM (#140774)
    "The following ticket has been automatically issued because of speeding uses, your hire car was tracked going from NY to San Francisco in the space of 2 minutes, your car hit a peak speed of 2200mph during this journey, with an average speed of 2000mph, please note the maximum speed limit is 70mph.

    Thank you for your time, this fine of $2200 is due in 21 Days."
  • by dachshund (300733) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:42AM (#140842)
    will the government begin to make auto manufacturers integrate these in to every vehicle, making it so they can just mail you a ticket any time you exceed the speed limit?

    There's been a certain amount of talk about adapting EZPass technology (automatic toll-paying tags in NY/NJ/DE) to catch speeders. Implementing this would be a snap; just measure the time a car takes between two tollbooths and mail out a ticket. Practically, it would be a political nightmare, and would very likely result in the speed limit rapidly being raised to 75MPH+.

    I've driven the NJ Turnpike a few times (speed limit=55MPH), and I can assure you that only a very small minority of the state's drivers actually pay attention to the posted limits. If an automatic system like this were implemented, half the drivers in the state could rack up enough points for a license suspension, all inside a week. I'd hate to be the politician who authorized that particular course of action; you can guarantee there would be some changes made, and fast.

  • It violates no laws about police powers because the police are not involved, just a contract between the rental agency and the customer. The issue involved here is that there was apparently no understanding on the part of the customer about the meaning of this brand-new contract language, which means (if I understand civil law correctly, which I probably don't because IANAL) that the contract was not valid.

    The hokey explanations on the part of the ACME rep about the "need" to use GPS to track speed (not just location, which is all they require for their vehicle retrieval needs) indicate that ACME may have written that contract in less than good faith. If so, they're just begging for a judicial spanking.

    (And as #18 says, a bit of aluminum foil over the GPS antenna and the problem goes away... at least in this incarnation of the system.)
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