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Ford Exec: 'We Know Everyone Who Breaks the Law' Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car (businessinsider.com)
126 points by ozh 1259 days ago | hide | past | web | 153 comments | favorite

I just bought a ford taurus. It immediately connects my cell phone to my car and I sorta get the feeling like the cops that sit on the eway have access to the computer in my car and also the cell phone connected to that computer. But hey thats just my paranoia.

On another note, it was very clear checking off do not track in the vehicle. The only reason they say they want to track is for data like the exec gives the example for, traffic analysis etc. not like daily tracking. But it is creepy and really I dont know if all the benefits balance out the potential drawbacks.

There is also this notification in the myfordsync system that is "911 Assist".. now this is a fine option, but literally the car will remind you everytime you start it that it is off and unless you select otherwise, it won't just alert you, but will give you the option to turn it on.

>On another note, it was very clear checking off do not track in the vehicle.

I cannot see it remaining this way. It is just a matter of time before the OEMs buckle and sell your data to an enterprising third party in exchange for the ability to lower costs. The auto supply chain is notorious for being a bloodbath of cost-cutting. It's a perfect cultural fit.

Not saying that you won't retain the option to turn off tracking as these systems become more widespread, but it's just an illegible TOS away from being opt-in by default with a buried opt-out.

> It is just a matter of time before the OEMs buckle and sell your data to an enterprising third party in exchange for the ability to lower costs.

Is anyone else getting sick of this trend? Especially with stuff that you pay full-price for. I can understand why gmail / facebook / etc do it - but for other traditional models to jump in on it seems like they're all too eager to destroy any traditional transactions.

I agree, but I also understand why it happens. For a lot of people the only thing better then paying what something is worth is paying nothing for something of worth. That you paid a value for a product doesn't mean you don't want to pay less money for that purchase.

Everybody complains about airlines cutting legroom, but no one seems willing to stop buying the airline ticket that comes to the top when you click 'sort by price, lowest to highest.

People say they value things--privacy, comfort, freedom, health, etc.--one way, then they act in a way that shows they value money more. It's enough to make you stop believing what people tell you and instead just looking at what they do.

Or maybe I'm just old and cynical.

It's possible you're just cynical... I think many people would do more than simply complain. If the travel aggregators listed legroom as a descriptor, you can absolutely bet I would be comparing it along with price, durations, and stops.

If my auto manufacturer made it clear that there was a hidden GPS in my car constantly reporting my position (hilarious that, for a GPS that I can see, I have to pay a ridiculous extra amount for the "option") I would definitely ask them how to turn it off.

You supposedly value legroom, but you're not willing to spend the two minutes it takes to do the research yourself? I don't think you actually value legroom.

In case you just thought it was much harder to discover than it actually is, check out seatguru.com.

You might be able to research leg-room when you buy a ticket, but there is no way to guarantee you get the same plane or same seating configuration when you show up at the airport.

Over New Years my wife and I flew United from IAD to SFO. Checked in the night before the flight and was assigned row 38 seats E and F. Got to the airport the next morning and our seats were separate because the plane that actually showed up to fly us only had 37 rows.

If an airline can't even assign the correct seats the night before a flight there is no way they can do that months in advance when you are buying the ticket.

There's no guarantee, but the odds are very good just the same. Based on my experience, you have probably a 95% chance of getting the airplane they say you'll get.

And of course you can enhance this by explicitly paying for more room. Lots of airlines these days are offering coach-class seating with more room. United has Economy Plus, and most other airlines let you pay a small premium for exit row seating, bulkhead seating, or similar.

If you don't want to pay extra and you don't want to do the research that gives you a good chance of getting what you want, well, that's absolutely fine, but I'm not going to believe that you care at all about legroom if you do.

Thanks for the tip. Seatguru looks awesome. Mike Ash improves both my Objective-C code and my traveling experience!

Well, I never fly Ryanair if a similar Easyjet flight is available, even if it's more expensive. There are limits.

If only airlines were rated by comfort, I'd be willing to understand why I ought to pay $100 more per seat to fly airline B rather than A.

>Is anyone else getting sick of this trend? Especially with stuff that you pay full-price for. I can understand why gmail / facebook / etc do it -

With connected devices, the line in the sand is fading extremely quickly.

Your car is a platform and a place where you are a captive audience for advertisers. Your movements and habits are valuable to any entity that can sell you something or has a financial stake in your behavior (auto insurance company).

This New Years Eve I watched a montage of the ball dropping in New York City's Time Square, from 1976 to the present. Time Square, from the beginning was a place defined by commerce, advertising, and media, yet it was quaint in a way. The buildings were slathered in neon; billboards were brightly lit. You could see the progression even from there though. When the montage ended in 2013 the TV screen was covered with media and even the crowds themselves where plastered with blue foam Nivea top hats and branded clothing, carefully doled out to those located in "in-camera" zones. Wherever we are, wherever we look, whatever we hear, they want to get closer and they must. As long as money incents this, they always must.

Not saying it's good or bad, it just is. If we don't like being products so much (in the aggregate), then we have to decide this together and craft protections into law. If we don't care so much, then we know where this is going.

I agree, but I also understand why it happens. For a lot of people the only thing better then money is more money. That you paid a value for a product doesn't mean they don't want to make more money from that sale.

My insurance company offered me a swell discount for a little GPS box that would verify I was driving safely, and also allow anyone to track my movements.

I would be unsurprised if the insurance companies gave a discount for the use of these devices in cars, especially if built in--and you can probably bet your ass that the contracts for these policies will include "we can do whatever we want with the data, share with whomever, etc."

Needless to say, I bike everywhere now.

Someone will write a guide to disabling it within a day.

And law enforcement will use your having disabled it to justify a presumption of guilt.

Like how when you refuse to speak to the police and ask for a lawyer, they cancel your trial and put you right in a cell.

(I'm sure someone can list lots of abuses of this process; the point is that they are still looked at as abuses)

And .00001% of car buyers will learn of this guide. An even smaller number of them will actually use it.

Well, at least the breaking of DRM will go a bit more mainstream.

Relax. You don't have to stress yourself out about these things, since you soon won't have much of a choice anyway.

The day will come when you can't get car insurance without active tracking. It is just too tempting for insurance companies to reduce their claim investigation overhead/cost with that technology.

Of course, strong privacy protection laws could keep this from happening.


Well, once autonomously driving vehicles come along, they'll obey the law without many exceptions.

Which will drastically cut into many municipalities revenue. How will they replace that revenue?

Ideally, they would just cut back their operations... probably they'll just raise taxes or start charging more user fees for other things.

Fire traffic cops.

Why would they refuse to take more money from people that are unwilling to use the trackers?

I can see a far future where the only people who want to refuse the trackers are reckless or awful drivers, but I can't imagine an insurance company refusing to write a contract with a driver that has a reasonable history.


> On another note, it was very clear checking off do not track in the vehicle.

That checkbox doesn't, and can't, mean anything. You don't get to opt out of law enforcement requesting a second-by-second stream of your location data, and neither does Ford.

I feel this is obligatory:


Also, if you think them knowing your location like this is scary, wait until we have self-driving cars, that will have built-in kill switches in them or some kind of remote control, you know, for "updates". Getting rid of people (journalists especially - Michael Hastings anyone?) in "accidents" will never be easier.

> On another note, it was very clear checking off do not track in the vehicle. The only reason they say they want to track is for data like the exec gives the example for, traffic analysis etc. not like daily tracking.

That reminds me of how phone calls to most companies are recorded nowadays.

"This call may be recorded for quality control purposes."

No one thinks twice about that but, while the "official" reason for recording it might be "for quality control purposes", that doesn't mean they can't or won't use it for any purpose they want.

Those calls are being recorded to cover their ass in case of disagreement or dispute.

> Those calls are being recorded to cover their ass in case of disagreement or dispute.

Actually, it usually means that an algorithm is listening in the conversation (see for ex. http://www.callminer.com/products/eurekalive/ ), and learning from your voice tone, use of words, grammar choice, etc ... to know what kind of personality you have and put you through the right agent or give them clues on how to most quickly and efficiently help you (or get rid of you)

Why would the police bother with your car's GPS when your cell phone firehoses location data and oh so much more?

Because I can easily turn off my cell phone when I don't want to be tracked (e.g., if I'm on my way to rob a bank), but my car's GPS may be impossible to disable.

Developed capacity equals intent, as they say in our government.

You can turn the Assist notification off under Settings somewhere (under Phone, maybe?), for what it's worth.

That option will turn off the ability to turn on 911 assist upon starting the car. I haven't been able to turn off the pop-up notification that comes up for a second that says "911 Assist Off".. as soon as I hit reverse the backup cam takes over the screen and I don't see it again, but clearly someone wants you using it.

I think they're just covering their asses with that warning.

Ford VP Jim Farley: we don't supply that data to anyone

The only thing that remains to be seen is how long that stays true. Once the data exists, it's much easier for the state to appropriate it. It's far harder for the state to mandate collection of this data to begin with. Ford has already done the hard bit.

The UK's CleanFeed was similarly coopted in order to implement censorship of PirateBay. It's unlikely the courts could have forced ISPs to implement a censorship scheme. But the ISPs created one anyway, with the noble goal of reducing child porn commerce; and of course, it was only to be used for this purpose. But once the courts found out about the capability, they could force it to be used in much more ambiguous and less noble situations.

I want that changed to we don't COLLECT that data, much less supply it to anyone.

Don't think I'll be buying a Ford until then, and will check for other manufacturers pulling the same intrusive stunt.

I think perfect enforcement of laws would be great. Because traffic tickets are so random, nobody really changes their behavior to avoid them, and it becomes more of a reverse lottery than anything else. Meanwhile, children on their way to school also lose the reverse lottery, but instead of a $300 fine, they die.

Perfect enforcement also puts pressure on lawmakers to make reasonable laws. If it's just some guy that you don't relate to being burned by stupid laws, you're not going to care. If it's everyone, you are going to care.

Edit: op added his second paragraph after I, and several others, replied. While the second paragraph is more reasonable on it's own, I still highly disagree with the implied reasoning of the first paragraph.

I disagree vehemently.

People drive a speed they feel comfortable driving. Full Stop.

The only time a speed limit sign changes behavior in the vast majority of drivers (in the US anyway) is when a cop is present.

The smarter way to reduce speed in the sections of road that actually are more dangerous is to make them look more dangerous, for example by painting lines on the road that make you think you're travelling faster than you are.

There are major roads where, except for rush hour, 100% of cars on the road are travelling well above the speed limit because it is set far too low for a modern vehicle driving on a multi-lane, fairly straight highway.

This causes a fairly similar attitude toward speed limits that a large percentage of the population has toward pot: you scaremonger about something that obviously isn't dangerous in 95% of cases (pot / 35 MPH, 6 lane roads), which makes the remaining 5% of cases that are actually dangerous (Heroin / sharp turn with low visibility) seem less dangerous because you spent so much effort to conflate the two.

Meanwhile, we're unable to have a sober conversation about the subject that results in speed limits and road laws that make sense because of think of the children! scaremongering, e.g., "children on their way to school also lose the reverse lottery, but instead of a $300 fine, they die."

So the idiot who drives 50mph on my street, which is 1/4 mile long, and has children under the age of 12 in all ten houses on this road should be allowed to drive whatever speed he feels comfortable? There's a lot of externalities to his behavior. My intuition tells me that in your world where people drive a speed they feel comfortable is why we have so many traffic accidents. I don't give a rats ass about how comfortable a driver is.

This is exactly what I'm talking about.

You're conflating all instances of speeding with "the idiot who drives 50mph on my street, which is 1/4 mile long, and has children under the age of 12 in all ten houses on this road."

Instead of being able to have a measured conversation about what speed is safe in a given street or area, we get hysterical fear mongering that does two things:

1. It causes the speed limit on a majority of roads to be set to a level that is well below a safe speed to drive, instead of setting reasonable limits in most places and then carving out exceptions in places that are more dangerous.

2. Your tone, both when talking about behavior you'd like to see changed and when referring to the other people whose comfort/time/opinion you "don't give a rats (sic) ass about", is alienating and all too common in these kind of conversations.

Both of these factors contribute to people, en mass, deciding speed limits (on their own) are never actually meaningful, and so they must use other factors to decide how quickly they should drive.

Maybe Traffic Calming should be implemented on your street, instead of posting a small sign that people will ignore?

No, I was simply providing an example of how your thinking is flawed. People simply ignore externalities when it comes to driving safety.

I'm sorry you feel alienated because I'm not sympathetic to unsafe drivers. I feel correspondingly alienated by your lack of concern regarding pedestrians, and the dangers cars pose to small children.

Traffic calming would probably be unsuitable to my road; it's about 1/4 mile long, and only wide enough for two cars. When cars park on the street, it makes it a swerve event when two cars come from opposite directions. Speed bumps might help to some degree, but from what I've seen of the drivers behavior, they'd probably just enjoy that.

I think you're giving drivers far too much credit for making rational judgements regarding speed.

> It causes the speed limit on a majority of roads to be set to a level that is well below a safe speed to drive, instead of setting reasonable limits in most places and then carving out exceptions in places that are more dangerous.

OK, I'll bite.

I'm assuming you're talking about the US. Do you really think that a "majority" are set to a level "well below" a "safe speed"?

You think 25 mph on a residential street is too low? There's a British video of how even low-speed collisions can be fatal for pedestrians.

I've personally found the speeds in the USA to be eminently reasonable. 25 mph: residental, 30 mph on undivided business streets, 40/45 for multilane main streets. 50 mph for minor highways, and 65+ for interstates and major highways.

Edit: And my actual main point is: A) Speed limits are currently set politically, not scientifically, and B) Yes! let's have this conversation rather than shouting down anyone who wants to change the status quo and painting them as a child-killer.

I'm mostly talking about the US, although I've since moved to the UK, but I still do most of my driving when I come back to visit the US.

As a point of reference, I'm most familiar with Chicago/Illinois & St. Louis/Missouri speed limits, and I think Illinois speed limits tend to be set unreasonably low (lower than almost anyone on the road is actually driving), while Missouri speed limits are generally more reasonable, if a little cautious.

"You think 25 mph on a residential street is too low? There's a British video of how even low-speed collisions can be fatal for pedestrians."

And places where pedestrians are regularly crossing the middle of the street are perfect spots to implement Traffic Calming, and to be honest, 99% of my complaint is regarding non-residential streets.

"25 mph: residental, 30 mph on undivided business streets, 40/45 for multilane main streets. 50 mph for minor highways, and 65+ for interstates and major highways."

I would say this is generally what they are set to in St. Louis, but they're systemically 5 to 10 MPH lower in Chicago and most of the surrounding suburbs.

Missouri has recently also instituted variable speed limits that change based on weather and time of day. This to me speaks mountains about the true intention being closer to safety than either revenue or giving cops the ability to pull basically anyone over.

Fair enough. I now see that speed limits are set differently in different parts of the US. My driving has been mostly in the western and southwestern states.

Should be 60+ for minor highways, 75+ for interstates, and 85+++ for interstates and major highways outside of metro areas.

The flaw in your argument is, "I trust myself driving, but I don't trust anyone else."

I am a great driver and people had been present when I got myself out of 'sticky' situations--avoided red-light runner t-bones, people merging into me, parking lot fender benders who don't check their rear, etc.

Problem is, there are plenty of bad drivers out there who would happily go 80-90 and drive recklessly in their parents' BMW (Palm Beach teenagers, anyone?). The deaths due to traffic accidents are staggering and it's a huge public health issue. If speeding is not illegal, then it could be difficult to show wrecklessness or other mitigating circumstances should there be a manslaughter case. IMNAL, but I think it could have wider and unexpected implications.

I agree that many speed limits are somewhat arbitrary, but I disagree with 'smart' means of reducing people's speed. People need to learn how to follow the rules or they don't belong in society... it's as simple as that.

The flaw in my argument is that I'm calling for reasonable and evidence based traffic laws and road planning, rather than making it a political fiasco that's more about revenue generation than safety?

Whereas your argument is, the status quo is fine, people just need to follow the current rules better, even though all evidence says people aren't going to do so?

I agree with the revenue generation/political issue... I think those unfairly influence traffic safety laws.

I think there are certainly some areas where speed limits should be much higher, but my point is that you need to balance your desire to drive faster with the risks of people who are not as responible as you causing major accidents.

Your counter case of reckless teenagers is a strawman -- traffic deaths have dropped over the last few decades. Previous Poster didn't say there shouldn't be speed limits, but was arguing against imagining that lowering a speed limit would generally do anything meaningful in reducing traffic speeds.

Speed limits, when using the textbook, are set by running a study of car speeds on a particular stretch of road, then setting the limit where something like 80% of drivers are at or under it. This survey is done with either cameras or those nearly invisible pressure strips they glue to the road surface, and most people drive through without noticing at their normal speeds.

If it's set slower for political reasons, obviously then many more people are going to naturally be driving faster than the limit. The primary function for this is to increase ticket revenues, not make people safer. Indeed, adding things to the road to make it feel like you need to slow down, and not just a speed sign, do more to control traffic speeds.

Alternatively, it's the one case where I'd consider arguments for speed cameras. Yes, they too only affect local traffic speeds (just before them and a little after). But if the concern is speed in a particular corner of a road, put one up. People will know they're there, slow down, and be safer.

It's not a strawman because eggregious accidents are the ones that generate excesive 'reactionary' changes to local roads. Particularly tragic accidents are the ones that can get political and media coverage necessary to cause 'knee-jerk' changes that are not necessarily evidence-based. The problem is drunks, immature drivers and seniors can and will continue to contribute to these issues regardless of the traffic laws.

Also, traffic deaths dropping is irrelevant because there is no causal relationship. It could be safer cars, more seatbelt use.... heck, changes in weather patterns or population densities could all contribute and it's going to be futile to argue laws may prevent traffic accidents. The point is that when an accident happens, laws need to be on the books so that people can be prosecuted for their mistakes.

So if egregious accidents will contribute to 'knee-jerk' changes regardless of traffic laws, it is indeed a non-argument and a strawman when considering the case of changing the way traffic laws are set.

I poorly supported that with the traffic deaths dropping bit, quite true.

Separately, it would be more apt to observe that traffic speed limits set not with respect to natural driving speeds are shown to increase traffic collisions, because speeds set too high will have some drivers naturally driving far too slow to be safe, and speeds too low will also have drivers driving too slow (the posted limit) versus the natural speed of the road which some will drive.

Maybe you should have read OP's comment until the end before posting your angry reply. He said, that if laws were perfectly enforced, it would basically mean that the set of laws would very quickly be trimmed down to the set of useful laws. In the examples you cite, pot would become legal, and we would get better traffic laws (i.e. "contextual" speeding laws, only when children are present on the pavement/only when the visibility is low).

I did read until the end. I quoted the end. He then added a second paragraph that is more reasonable.

In his initial post, Op didn't ask for 100% enforcement so that we would then get sane laws, he called for 100% enforcement because children are dying.

I do agree that full enforcement would likely lead to vey quick changes in the law.

"People drive a speed they feel comfortable driving. Full Stop."

Reminds me of this AutoBahn video:


The only time a speed limit sign changes behavior in the vast majority of drivers (in the US anyway) is when a cop is present.

And that would exactly be the case, if you were tracked and got a ticket the moment you crossed the limit.

In the same spirit, children should also wear a GPS which will bite them in the ass if they move outside the playground area. And their parents should also wear similar GPS in case they'd try to go to some nasty places to buy drugs instead of educating and feeding their children. To protect kids, everyone should wear a GPS.

Except for those who write and enforce the law, of course.

"Tough on crime" policies rarely change behavior. It just puts more people in jail and creates more public dissent in communities.

Perfect law enforcement is what exactly? Reducing incorrect stops and searches? Or trading everyone's privacy for accurate and efficient punishment?

Traffic violations are so common that I think perfect enforcement would almost instantaneously lead to changes in the law.

The first day of perfect enforcement in Northern Virginia, for example, would lead to about two million tickets being issued. After the entire legislature had been strung up by their thumbs, the new legislature would no doubt realign all speed limits and other laws to match how people actually drive, rather than some insane ideal of how they should.

I have friends working in traffic departments for various cities. They tell stories of sending out speed recommendations based on the design of the road, houses, intersections, etc. The speed limits come back from the politicians much reduced.

Roads are designed to be driven at a particular speed. This is the speed most drivers use.

Having a lower speed limit gives a false sense of safety. It's basically the "think of the children!" argument.

The politicians would simply carve out exemptions for themselves. I have seen no evidence that .gov has ever been this responsive to the impact of the laws they write.

It's never been tried on anything like this scale, though. Imagine literally 50% of the population getting a citation on the same day.

Police use judgment, not just about giving you a ticket, but when and where they will look for infractions, so it's not a reverse lottery. It's not random. The think of the children argument is often used to enhance laws and punishments. I don't really mind the GPS everywhere tracking, but what you're asking for is ridiculous even to me.

I've received a single speeding ticket in my life. It was from an automated camera set up on a section of freeway where the speed limit is 45 and the average speed of traffic is about 60. There's a speed camera set up there. The trick is that the camera can't be certain of which car it's tracking unless there's only one car in view. Given the density of traffic there, it's a total crapshoot as to whether you'll be alone in the camera's field of view as you go past. Given the speed of traffic there, it's difficult, and dangerous, to drive slow enough not to get a ticket if you are.

And this is hardly unique, of course. Cops operate under similar constraints (although they can tell cars apart better than a camera system) and their placement is unpredictable.

There are certainly non-random components, but there are substantial random components too.

I've received two speeding tickets in my life. One was a speed trap where a road went from a 50 mph limit to a 30 mph limit, and there was always a cop waiting there. It wasn't, however, random: everyone duly slowed down to 35 except me who drove through at 55. In retrospect, the speed trap itself is justified. It was positioned where the road transitioned from unincorporated county to an incorporated city, and the city didn't want cars zooming through its Main Street at 55.

The other time I received a ticket, I was also driving way faster than traffic. In my experience, that's mostly when people get tickets--not randomly for exceeding the speed limit when everyone else is also speeding, but when they're going above the speed of traffic. I used to commute from Atlanta to the suburbs on I-85, where the speed limit was 55 but the speed of traffic was 75+, and I never got a ticket. My friend who did was going 80+ in a BMW M3.

Unless they use their judgment in a very non-random way that doesn't improve anything. There are many places with photo radars, which are basically money collection places. The road is straight, the traffic is low, no buildings around, the speed limit is lower than anyone will expect and the local police will always wait there.

Abraham Lincoln — 'The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.'

The drug war could have fooled me.

Yeah, because the drug war is enforced strictly. I mean, look at all the well-off white people going to prison at the same rate as poor black people.

There's no evidence Lincoln said that. More importantly, I question the wisdom of increasing suffering as the best way to get a bad law repealed. Ulysses S. Grant[1]:

I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.

Note "effective", not "best".

[1] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/grant1.asp

"Reasonable laws" are not sufficient for total/exact enforcement - this would require "perfect" laws, which is an unrealistic expectation for imperfect legislative bodies.

Your turn signal lamp was not illuminated for one nanometer less than the legally required distance...

Please realize also that the laws need to protect that "some guy you don't relate to" as well as the "everyone" that you care about.

Perfect law enforcement is an interesting idea but probably scary (and unworkable) in practice. There are things people can do today that were once illegal (e.g being homosexual) and if we'd had perfect enforcement, they'd have been thrown in prison. Challenging rules by breaking them is what you're suggesting but perfect enforcement would just take away those people's voices.

I don't think we want perfect enforcement (for the tools to do that inevitably bring down democracy), but we need to bring laws up to par with the immense risk that driving poses.

There is ample evidence humans simply can't drive; they process information too slowly for the speeds they are driving, they are unable to make purely rational decisions, instead involving emotion, bad memories and a ton of cognitive dissonance, they are completely useless at estimating risk (or their own limitations), incapable of doing some monotonous task but staying alert, ...

Laws simply do not acknowledge that, for economical [1] or simply historical reasons. You pass the test once, and your "abilities" are never questioned again. You can crush somebody on a right-turn, and as long as you stay at the scene, are sober and repeat "I didn't see him" ad infinitum, you can drive again tomorrow.

[1]: Had we correctly considered the risks and negative externalities, this would be a non problem. We would instead have useful public transport.

Driving scales horribly. That's its first problem. If there are a few cars on the road, it's safe at reasonable speeds. At congestion, it becomes unsafe, slow, and miserable.

It's also a leaky abstraction. It's surprisingly safe for what it is-- humans moving at speeds no land animal, under its own power, can. The risk of death on the highway is about 0.5 micromorts per hour. That makes it safer than skydiving or scuba diving, and comparable to marathon running. Ultimately, those aren't bad odds. (By the way, running marathons is safer than a sedentary lifestyle by far. I'm doing a half-triathlon in October with no qualms about the risk.)

The real issue isn't speed (although that's a part of it) but complexity. Accidents don't usually happen when one thing goes wrong but when several things go wrong together. That's why they're more common on low-speed roads and in urban settings (where more random shit can pierce the abstraction of driving) than on the highway. Speed does mean, however, that the accidents that do occur will be a lot worse. Speeding on low-speed roads is actually a lot worse than on the highway. If you hit a pedestrian at 40 in a 25 zone, you'll probably kill him.

> It's also a leaky abstraction.

I'm not sure what word you meant here, but driving isn't an abstraction. It's a physical activity that occurs in the real world. It's not a simplified representation of anything else. If you die in your car, you die in real life too.

Abstraction is the wrong word, I agree. It's more of an abstraction of experience. On a freeway at 75mph, you're actually traveling extremely fast by a natural standard, but the experience is designed to feel more like a brisk walk in many ways.

Nothing is perfect.

Breaking the law sometime makes sense. Think of a person driving his pregnant wife or a injured person from an accident scene to the hospital.

Which isn't breaking the law, at least in Texas. You're allowed to speed for medical emergencies. That's why the police sometimes ask if everything's okay when pulling you over; if you're going to the hospital, they'll give you an escort.

Then that should be the law ("you can speed in such-and-such circumstances, potentially argued before a jury").

Agreed, but my point still remains, even that law would not be perfect.

You would always miss out something or leave something open for abusers, so, to some extent, common sense should prevail too.

Hence judicial discretion and jury nullification. But the idea of jury trials for traffic violations is economically laughable.

I agree vehemently. In my opinion, laws should be followed, and perfectly enforced. If that makes you feel uneasy, and if the majority of the population feels the same way, the law should be removed.

Perfect enforcement would rapidly reduce the number of stupid and nonsensical laws on the books, that only exist so that the police can jail people after they have done something wrong/after they were targeted by the police or another influential person.

"Perfect enforcement would rapidly reduce the number of stupid and nonsensical laws on the books"

And if that doesn't turn out to be correct, we end up in a totalitarian regime.

Some countries have found a third option: instead of a $300 fine, you pay a $100 bribe.

Except if you run the bribing scheme, but in the greater scheme of things, there are more people not running the scheme than people running the scheme.

(Good news: industrious cops won't miss any traffic violation when their bonuses depend on it!)

I think this is one of the standard arguments for automated traffic enforcement, which has been around for years. Around me they are expanding red light cameras and speed cameras to also be able to write tickets for blocking the box and not coming to a complete stop at stop signs.

Washington DC pervasively uses speed cameras and it certainly slows me down. People now drive the speed limit on a freeway where the speed limit is an absurdly low 45 mph.

Complaints about some wide boulevards where the city routinely ran speed traps probably played a role in spurring the mayor to increase the speed limits on some roads. Certainly that's better than having absurdly low speed limits that people ignore.

The police chief credits the widespread speed cameras for a reduction in traffic fatalities.

I have mixed feelings about some of the camera (e.g. I suspect many of the Red Light tickets are people who just missed a yellow light, which feels like it should not be as stiff a fine as an inattentive driver who blows right through an intersection.)

That said, I'm 100% for blocking-the-box cameras. It's a huge problem in DC that leads to cascading gridlock and pedestrians snaking through intersections.

I was just in Holland where there's a lot of traffic cameras. They also have this thing called "Trajectory Control" where they track your license plate at the beginning and at the end they calculate your average speed. If it's higher than the speed limit, BOOM, you can expect a fine in your mailbox.

All of this was originally intended to increase safety on the road but the funny thing is that instead of watching the road more, I'm busy watching my accelerometer.

Yes officer I was making sure to travel at 44 MPH unfortunately that meant I missed that kid running out into the road.

I would prefer to go the opposite route: don't write laws unless they can be enforced effectively. This prevents us from perfect or automated enforcement of terrible laws, and also cuts down on the amount of "nice to have" legislation. It's certainly a guideline for voting for a representative.

The problem with this idea is that it would basically make rape legal (as it cannot really be enforced fairly/effectively - it boils down to he said/she said).

I would support "perfect enforcement" if the laws were revised, at least with regard to highway speed.

Residential zones should be lowered to 20-25 MPH with traffic calming (which is far more effective than posted speed limits) and strictly enforced (e.g. 28 in 25 => ticket). 40/25 is actually much worse than 100/65 on the Interstate (in low traffic) although most people aren't aware of that.

Finally, speed limits should be dynamic. In non-residential areas, about +15 higher than they currently, but with a -10 to -20 modification for rain and even more for snow and ice.

Interstates should be raised to 80-90 MPH with points and insurance notification only happening if the officer can prove that the driver endangered others, such as by weaving, or exceeding the flow of traffic. (At +15 mph relative to average flow in the left lane, that would qualify.) Otherwise, the fine can stick but the points/insurance-hit vanish. 120 MPH on the highway, with the right car and a straight road, if there is no traffic on the road, is not that dangerous. It's still not worth it IMO-- I generally drive 75-80 when there is no traffic, because I don't see a point in high speed-- but the real danger is speed variance rather than raw speed.

Finally, people who drive in the left lane and are not passing should be ticketed (except when getting on or off a left exit). Lane inversion is dangerous. Passing on the right should generally be discouraged (but probably can't be outlawed given the number of slow cars in left lanes in the US). Warnings of left exits/entrances should be posted at least 3 miles out.

"Perfect enforcement also puts pressure on lawmakers to make reasonable laws"

That's where you made a mistake. a) They want eg money from tickets. They don't care about "reasonable". b) In a meta level, rules don't work. How much AI did we get by rule based systems? Rules (laws) are strict. Reality is "fluid".

Your car isn't the only person who knows where you are. Your cellular phone service, your smartphone manufacturer, all the apps that have GPS access, license plate scanners, people who upload pictures with your face in it with GPS coordinates. This is the inevitable future in developed countries. It's probably going to be a long time before this saturation reaches under-developed countries so you can probably make a nice life for yourself there if you really hate this.

Does that mean they know the cop who wrote you the ticket and the judge who found you guilty, both went faster than the speed limit that morning when you all appeared in court?

This is kind of like how the NSA knows about every crooked cop in America based on financial and voice/data traffic but decides not to tell anyone because it might upset people they know this.

This quote was taken out of context and generalized, I assume purposely, to unjustly raise the alarm level. According to the Business Insider article, he was specifically referring to speeding violations.

From http://www.businessinsider.com/ford-exec-gps-2014-1:

"Because of the GPS units installed in Ford vehicles, Ford knows when many of its drivers are speeding, and where they are while they're doing it." He also said "I absolutely left the wrong impression about how Ford operates. We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or consent."

The iPhone in your pocket can do much more damage to you in terms of incriminating evidence than Ford can.

You are quoting the article, but the headline is from his quoted statement a paragraph later (later retracted saying it was hypothetical):

"We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone," he told attendees. http://www.businessinsider.com/ford-exec-gps-2014-1

If it wasn't slanted, it'd be |.

"This quote was taken out of context and generalized"

It doesn't matter on HN. This gives us an excuse to continue the ongoing privacy debate for hours. #NSA #CRIME #POLITICS #CONSPIRACYTHEORY

It's not that there's GPS in my car and me breaking the law is knowable that concerns me... it's that this exec implies that the data is being uploaded without my consent.

My thoughts exactly.

I get the sinking feeling that this trend is gaining momentum, rather than reversing course. If the trend continues, government standards may soon require tracking technology "For Your Safety (TM)".

I think a bigger threat is from insurance companies[1]. "Want insurance? Sure but first you just need to install this black box in your car!"

[1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/car-tracking-devices-spark-pri...

Agreed, the concerning theme is the required usage of tracking software, without the opportunity to opt-out in an effective way.

Okay, this wasn't Denis Rodman or some other mindless crackhead speaking; it was high exec of Ford.

Think for a moment; why would he come on the record to state this and then back it down? Obviously, to protect the company! Its a PR stunt. Just like IRS learnt to scoop people's swimming pools that haven't been taxed via Google Earth, my bet is that the same way state/federalies are looking for extra places to milk you.

Everyone is speeding or sped at some point; the amount of money waiting to be collected must be humongous. Its just a matter of how they go retroactively with it. My bet is that they will make it "good news" that even if you speed 40 miles above, your license won't be suspended, we just gonna fine you $1,000. Can't pay? we leave it up to the IRS (the best mob to collect dues on the face of Earth).

But him coming out to say that is just introduction to "don't tell us later we haven't told u + you could opt out anytime by clicking some checkbox + we have to comply with Feds" combination.

Prepare for more.

I drive a Ford (No GPS) and I'm not sure if any ford car here in India has GPS which uploads the data.

I'm curious: How does the upload happen - In-built SIM? Who pays for the Data?

Radio waves. There are GPS jammers. Many truck drivers use them:


GPS is receive-only. The article to which you linked involves a man with a GPS jammer that prevented reception of GPS signals in the local area and hence prevented derivation of location.

What the parent poster was asking is how Ford upload the derived location.

Ah, I misunderstood the question. Thanks for the clarification.

Ford pays for a cell data link. Edge, 2G and analog equipment is still out there and cheap for things like this.

Privacy issues aside, a more interesting analysis would be to determine what percentage of car drivers do not break the law. Assuming analysis is purely on breaking speed limits, then further analysis could be done based on type of road (residential, motorway, etc), % above speed limit, number of miles spent breaking the law etc.

Correlate this data with accident black spots (insurance claims, type of accident, time of day etc).

You could even do route analysis and focus resources (e.g. a particular area has a large number of cars driving to schools and back, could a cycle/foot path help alleviate this).

This would be a fantastic set of data to get your hands on.

Sadly there is more business incentive for this data to be misused than used for good like you mention. While we are there we need to fix speed limits so they are valid.

I propose a >2 std deviations = ticket rule. Instead of the current "we all know it's illegal but were only be a little illegal so it's ok", that defeats the point of having laws I think.

I'm sure TomTom would be happy to sell it to you - see http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/licensing/products/traffic/real-...

I think there is another interesting angle here: while a death of a person from a car driving too fast is a horrible tragedy; for the society as a whole, it might be better to accept X deaths to get Y people to their destinations faster. This is a common mistake in the modern political practice to use one-time/rare events to justify stricter laws for everyone. Most obvious and well known recent example, of course, is the establishment of TSA after 9/11. But the same applies to the speed limits on the road: a one-time car crash is usually used to justify lower speed limits.

You make a good point, but let's not pretend that crashes due to speed are "one-time" events. There is a certain roadway near where I live that frequently has these types of crashes. Lowering the speed limit doesn't help of course (these people are interested in obeying any posted limit).

I was talking about situations when a single crash on in a particular place of the road causes the speed limit to be dropped. I have no problem with lowering speed limits or doing other changes to the road when there is a history of incidents. E.g. I think police & other agencies did a fantastic job on hwy 17 a few years back to make it much safer and more pleasant to drive.

This guy should be indicted immediately, as an accessory to all of the crimes he knows about and hasn't reported.

Why not link to the original source instead of slashdot? You might as well be linking to blogspam.

how come no one linked the eula like on slashdot ? https://support.ford.com/tools/account/sync-terms

"Ford may use the vehicle information it collects, as well as information regarding individual access to Vehicle Health Reports at www.syncmyride.com for any purpose"

What's concerning about that is that you can't opt out. It's part of a service that is supposedly optional, but the linked document repeatedly emphasizes that the terms apply upon any use of the service, even by someone who's never seen the terms.

Hopefully that's not enforceable, but the judicial history with software licensing suggests that it would be.

well if you have enough money than no it's not enforceable. as it stands it's basically a you're giving me everything and i'm letting you know officially, sue me if you can.

We're linking to Slashdot now? Why not a link to the original article?

Universal tracking built into cars isn't the solution, but remember that speeding, especially in urban neighborhoods full of pedestrians, isn't a victimless crime: cars at 20mph have 5% odds of killing pedestrians in a crash, cars at 30mph kill ~40% of the time, and cars at 40mph kill 85% of the time[0]. So please stop speeding, and I'll keep advocating for automated traffic enforcement to protect my life.


Your use FUD to justify unwarranted spying and data collection for the use of prosecution is stunning. Not to mention it's a violation of the constitution.

It's a violation of the constitution for a private company to collect data on a product that they sell you, when they tell you ahead of time they'll be collecting that data?

Wow, those framers thought of everything.

> So please stop speeding, and I'll keep advocating for automated traffic enforcement to protect my life.

Please pay attention. Things move fast around here.

What about automated traffic enforcement is unconstitutional again?

Aren't we discussing Ford privately collecting information and disseminating it to some company to send out violations? That is what this entire thread is about isn't?

Probability of death is not an interesting stastics. A relevant number is the percentage of traffic accident deaths caused by speeding.

>The contributory factor report in the official British road casualty statistics show for 2006, that "exceeding speed limit" was a contributory factor in 5% of all casualty crashes (14% of all fatal crashes)

I remember reading that about 10% of fatal crashes in Finland are caused by speeding.

It won't be long until the Feds have technology that grabs metadata from the tech in your car as you cruise down the road. I suspect their definition of "metadata" will be broad enough to include things like speed, rate of acceleration, latitude/longitude (if car is equipped with GPS, of course), etc. Seems crazy, except that most of us probably thought the idea of government backdoors in Google, Facebook, etc. to be "crazy" until very recently.

What makes you think they don't have the technology now?

My issue with stuff like this is this: I don't get paid for them using data that is tied to my behaviors and I don't know what they do with that data once they get it. I'd be down with selling them the data if they were willing to bid on it, as long as I know what they did with it later (and got paid if they shared it with others).

The traffic analysis case seems to be a lot like the way Google aggregates smartphone GPS data to do real-time traffic for Google Maps [0] [0] http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/bright-side-of-sittin...

I'm not saying I'm ok with this but since OnStar was released I assumed someone was tracking vehicles. Especially when they announced the theft deterrent systems such as tracking and remotely disabling a vehicle.

They got themselves into some shit when they announced their plans to continue tracking vehicles that were capable of OnStar even if the owner wasn't a subscriber. Since making this announcement, they backtracked on this plan ... but makes you wonder whether they really did since it's clearly possible for them to continue collecting vehicle data unless you disable with with the correct jumpers.


The other way to look at it is they also know when you aren't breaking the law so maybe you could subpeona Ford's records to prove that cop was lying when he said you were speeding at 25 over.

I'd love to see large penalties for cops who could be proven to have lied about situations.

I wonder what are legal implications of running GPS jammer constantly.

The legal implications of jamming are that it is illegal. You would be better off clipping the wires to the GPS antenna, or if it is a separate component, disconnecting and removing the GPS module entirely. It was actually very easy to disable the Onstar module in my vehicle this way.

Reference for jamming legality in the United States: http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/jammer-enforcement

None if you jam your car and you car only. REALLY ILLEGAL if your jamming affect anything else than your car. I should be able to put my phone on your hood and still be able to get an accurate GPS reading.

The traditional solution is to unplug the cell phone antennas.

I have no idea how accessible they are on recent vehicles.

Here in the UK OFCOM would come down on you like a ton of bricks, if they noticed.

Should be none, at least in the U.S. It's your car.

I'm pretty sure GPS jammers are illegal in the US, though. I guess if you wanted to wrap the antenna in aluminium foil, that wouldn't be a problem.

Right, and you could also just disconnect the antenna. But GPS is useful for applications that have nothing to do with tracking, so it'd be nice to have access to devices which include strong, legally enforceable guarantees against location tracking (aside from targeted, judicially sanctioned tracking by law enforcement, since making life difficult for cops with warrants does little more than waste taxpayer money).

it probably would be much better to disable the wireless transmitter

Looks like they are fishing for a government contract.

"The Hyperion grinder lottery is almost upon us! Mandatory tickets will be sent to each household next month."

The telematics system, especially the radio, is probably on a separate fuse.

"...everyone who breaks the law..." Everyone? Hardly.

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