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Rental Car + GPS = Speeding Ticket

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the eye-in-the-sky dept.

Technology 748

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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Slashdot condones illegal actions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#140204)

As if backing intellectual property theft weren't enough, now Slashdot seems to be condoning breaking public safety laws.

Ever heard the saying "Speed kills?" Remember that next time you barrel down a highway 30 over the posted limit "because that's the normal way." Remember that next time you complain about an officer of the law catching you and ticketing you for your flouting of the law. Remember that next time you read about a child killed by a speeder who just couldn't wait that much longer to get somewhere.

I think Slashdot's support of "the other side" has gone too far this time. A rental car agency takes an interest in ensuring their vehicles aren't used in traffic infractions, possibly negligent deaths...and the group thinks this is a bad thing?

I think it's about time Slashdot editors and readers took a moment to think about what they're advocating, and perhaps realize that the law isn't always wrong, and it isn't always wrong when a private interest tries to support that law.

Re:Hrm (1)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 13 years ago | (#140213)

And sometimes when it gets a new sat or something strange happens I might "jump" on the map as to where my location is

You need a better GPS. My Garmin GPSMAP-195 never does that and I've driven over 12,000 miles with it, and flown another couple of thousand. Do you have one of the old ones that looked at each satellite in turn rather than in parallel?


Re:Eyes on the road (2)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 13 years ago | (#140214)

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.


Re:Proof beyond a reasonable doubt (1)

Scott Wood (1415) | more than 13 years ago | (#140215)

They probably could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, since the margin of error was probably insignificant compared to the amount in excess of the limit. However, they don't need to. He isn't being charged with the crime of speeding. He is simply being held to the terms of a contract he signed, which is a civil matter and does not require proof "beyond a reasonable doubt", just that there be more evidence in the rental company's favor than in the renter's.

The only "disturbing development" is that people seem to think they can sign things and then use the claim that they didn't read them as a way to get out of it.

Good one for RISKS (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 13 years ago | (#140225)

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.


Re:Ghost writer? (2)

Howie (4244) | more than 13 years ago | (#140235)

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

Re:outside of rental cars... (3)

Moonwick (6444) | more than 13 years ago | (#140242)

GPS is accurate enough. I've actually found that it's more accurate than the speedometer in my car at high speeds.

Speeding Tickets in The US (2)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 13 years ago | (#140246)

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.

sounds like a good way for acme to lose customers (4)

astrashe (7452) | more than 13 years ago | (#140247)

What kind of a moron would rent a car from ACME when they have this kind of policy in place?

So... (1)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 13 years ago | (#140258)

...this bozo got caught speeding, and doesnt like it. I feel no sympathy for him, same as the idiots that run through a tollbooth without paying and whine when a camera has a photo of their plate. He gambled, and he lost. Get over it.

Re:Automated toll paying (2)

coreman (8656) | more than 13 years ago | (#140259)

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.

How does it know the speed limit... (2)

tuffy (10202) | more than 13 years ago | (#140269)

...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.

Re:Taking the Law into Their Own Hands (rhetorical (1)

dgp (11045) | more than 13 years ago | (#140272)

hahahaha. so true. GPS can easily give wild readings when there is signal loss. I was shocked to see that the gps speeding system seemed to be automatically linked to his checking account because the funds had been withdrawn before he even reached his destination! I can see the safty reasons for tracking speed - the result should be a warning to the driver and a record of the speeding in the customer record. The result would be something along the lines of making the next rental more expensive.

Too bad (1)

jscott (11965) | more than 13 years ago | (#140276)


Guess I'll have goto National instead of ACME next time I need to rent

ACME products (3)

jscott (11965) | more than 13 years ago | (#140277)

Well, I really like their rapid shipping.

Can you jam GPS? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#140291)

Can you jam GPS? Could you bring along a pocket-sized low power transmitter that would prevent them from getting any info or false info (I never went above 20!)?

GPS Jumping. (2)

viper21 (16860) | more than 13 years ago | (#140304)

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 [] 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.


Scott Ruttencutter

There's an easy way to fix this. (3)

Goody (23843) | more than 13 years ago | (#140333)

A big piece of aluminum foil wrapped over the GPS unit. Problem solved. Big Brother has been been 'foiled' again.... :)

You don't do donuts with Dad's car. (1)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 13 years ago | (#140345)

When you borrow someone else's car, you agree to abide by their rules. The rental agency, as the owner of the vehicle, has every right to know where you take their car and how hazardously you've been driving it. And they even have the right to check whether you're obeying their rules and to charge you the penalty stated in the rental agreement if you break them. They're not talking about monitoring your car, just their own.

They're obviously using GPS because it's the simplest way to handle different types of vehicles with almost no installation/maintenance hassles but it does give rise to some privacy concerns. They should not be allowed to make commercial use of, nor publish, logged GPS information. Whether that information could be subpoena'd for use in court... well, I dunno.

In general though, I like this idea, since it will likely translate into lower insurance rates.

The real catch? (3)

AntiFreeze (31247) | more than 13 years ago | (#140353)

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!


Re:outside of rental cars... (4)

AntiFreeze (31247) | more than 13 years ago | (#140354)

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.


Re:Ghost writer? (1)

StenD (34260) | more than 13 years ago | (#140365)

The question does arise, however, as to how it really works. The GPS signal IS received from a satellite, however a transmitter that could send back to a satellite from a moving car would require a directional dish antenna and... ya, stupid.
Since two-way pagers work from moving vehicles, having a transmitter that can return data to AirIQ wouldn't be difficult or obvious.

Intermittent signal a definite problem (1)

dlakelan (43245) | more than 13 years ago | (#140379)

This is just a stupid idea. what happens when you merge onto a fast moving freeway at 55 MPH? You get REAR ENDED. If everyone is going 70, you had BETTER be going 70 +- 10% too.

Besides, if they're just recording the "max speed" I've seen that jump around if you go through an area of poor reception. The receiver thinks you've jumped from location A to location B really quickly, result, extremely short lived spike in speed of 20% or more. Sometimes when walking around, I look down and see that my max walking speed was actually 15 MPH... Not likely.

Unless they're using this to do something like fine customers whose sustained speed was over 90 MPH for 2 minutes or more, this is just a stupid way to get short term money, and lose long term customers.

Get a vacation... (1)

krypton (47671) | more than 13 years ago | (#140392)

... to Germany. Here is still no general speed limit on Autobahnen. Boy, had I fun this evening breaking down from 170 km/h (dunno what this is in mph, but over 100 for sure) to 80 because a truck was overtaking.

If you have no speed limit, you have more variation in speeds driven, so it gets more dangerous. If you drive the same style on the Autobahn as Californains on the Freeways (I was only visiting Cal twice, I cant speak for anything else), it would be deadly.

Just my 2 European Cent,

Re:Can you jam GPS? (1)

Potent (47920) | more than 13 years ago | (#140394)

Find the antenna and wrap a piece of aluminum foil around it, or find any connectors to the antenna and unplug them. Either will prevent it from receiving a signal at all.

GPS is too easy to jam, stop, or spoof (5)

xtal (49134) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

Re:outside of rental cars... (5)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

It's Not Necessary (1)

volpe (58112) | more than 13 years ago | (#140419)

Speeding may be a crime from the government's perspective, but it's a violation of a contract from the company's perspective. You are not at risk, currently in the situation under discussion, of being thrown in jail or charged with a criminal violation because of this technology. You are being charged a fee for using their property beyond specifications.

Re:Crossing the line (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#140439)

One reason that they might do this is that speeders could be more expensive customers, in terms of a greater risk of accidents.

55mph... (2)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 13 years ago | (#140451)

Move to a state where the speed limit is over 70mph. :)

Taking into consideration that the standard formula for driving is 20 over Posted... I typically get away with between 90 and 100, and people are still passing me.

"Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt (2)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 13 years ago | (#140455)

Can they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was indeed speeding? Speeding is technically a crime, so therefore would ACME have to prove to the courts that he was speeding, and if so, would it not be the State that collects the fine?

What a disturbing development.

Re:Slashdot condones illegal actions (1)

TheShadow (76709) | more than 13 years ago | (#140459)

I don't buy the fact that the act of speeding alone kills people. It's speeding paired with driving recklessly (like tailgating, weaving, etc.) that gets people killed. But, it's typical in our society to place the blame where it's easiest. Such as guns, violence on TV, and cholesterol, and "Big Oil/Media/Tobacco" (whatever those stupid terms mean)

Slashdot doesn't condone anything other than doing away with stupidity.


Re:55mph... (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 13 years ago | (#140464)

I believe the standard formula is actually only 10 mph over the Posted limit. At least in IL.

---- Sigs are bad for your health ----

ACME, you say? (1)

epeus (84683) | more than 13 years ago | (#140472)

How is Wiley Coyote ever going to catch Road Runner now - and he's ACMEs best customer.

Re:really? (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 13 years ago | (#140493)

I go over 55 all the time . . .
Really? How do you park?

He doesn't. He's driving a bus with Sandra Bullock sitting on his lap.


Re:Privacy? (2)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 13 years ago | (#140494)

Does anyone else worry about a rental company tracking everywhere you go?
No. If you are worried about your privacy, don't rent a car. It's their car, their investment, what's wrong with them knowing where their assets are?


Re:outside of rental cars... (1)

PeteEMT (92003) | more than 13 years ago | (#140503)

Some states have photo-radar traps that work on a similar principal When the radar gun shows you exceeding the preset limit, it pops a picture. They send you the summons, picture with time/date/speed stamp on it and your sunk. I beleive this isn't considered legal tho in some states. That's why it's not wide spread Pete

new Hertz commercial (5)

cheezus (95036) | more than 13 years ago | (#140509)

"How come you're going so slow? Can't this car go any faster?"

"Not exactly...."


Re:Hrm (2)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#140537)

It is an older one (first Alpine nav unit) but it happens when I go under a bridge and the gyros take over for a bit. Or if I'm somehwere that the sats can't reach.

It doesn't happen often, perhaps once every few months or so, but when it does I can go a mile or two in just a second, and in that case would I be speeding?


Ohhhh (2)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#140538)

"When Turner signed Acme's rental agreement last October, he didn't notice the warning at the top of the contract that read: "Vehicles in excess of posted speed limit will be charged $150 fee per occurrence. All our vehicles are GPS equipped." "

He should have known about this before hand. He didn't read his contract. It's his own damn fault.


Hrm (5)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#140539)

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.


It's being studied in England (4)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 13 years ago | (#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 [] to information on the project.

Corporate Laws (1)

flipper9 (109877) | more than 13 years ago | (#140552)

Just goes to show that corporations believe they are above the public law. They can impose fines just like the government, without any due process or respect for your rights as a citizen because they are a corporation.

The government lets this go on since it is private business, but the corporations have us over a barrel. They control our credit, howe we work, a great deal of our lives without regard to the protections that our laws give us that the government has had to follow.

Now that corporations take over more and more the daily part of our lives, the very existence of our ability to live, our freedoms and protections will decrease since they are free from these messy due process, constitutions, and the like.

Nuff rant...

Re:It's being studied in England (1)

yorgasor (109984) | more than 13 years ago | (#140553)

Actually, this is old news in America. 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.

BTW - It's pretty scary when you're going that fast and the speed regulator kicks in. I think the gas doesn't reach the engine evenly and the car kind of lurches a bit. Lurching at that speed isn't pretty!

Privacy? (1)

mlfallon (110606) | more than 13 years ago | (#140555)

Does anyone else worry about a rental company tracking everywhere you go, or do they claim that they are only checking the rate you get there?

They got the money before he got home? (2)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 13 years ago | (#140560)

The hell "it isn't about the money". Add another risk to using a debit card to rent a car! If he had used a credit card, he could dispute the charge. Since he used a debit card, the rental agency was able to take the $450 without giving the renter a chance to dispute the charge. Sounds a bit like a scam to me. I'd want details - like a complete log of my speed and location during the period the car was in my posession. If they couldn't produce that, I doubt my credit card company would argue with my dispute. Oh, and about the "transmission to satellites" thing? GPS doesn't but the tracking device they use may very well uplink location information to a satellite. That's how they find those stolen trucks so fast.

Re:outside of rental cars... (1)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 13 years ago | (#140566)

Not if they put the gps inside your head...

The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

I just had another thought... (1)

msaulters (130992) | more than 13 years ago | (#140587)

This tracks separate incidents of excess speed.

Does that mean if you rev it up to 90 for ten minutes, then drop down to 55 for ten seconds and then back up to 90, you get fined twice?

If this *really* isn't about money, then there would be a single fee for exceeding the limit. That would add a lot of credibility the rental agent's story. I just fear what happens next... when they start reporting this information back to your insurance company!

Wow (5)

msaulters (130992) | more than 13 years ago | (#140588)

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 [] 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'?

Progessive Insurance does this too! (1)

displacer (136053) | more than 13 years ago | (#140602)

I got a letter a while back from Progessive Insurance promising a "FREE" GPS for my car as long they they get to "Monitor" it.

This is EXACTLY the situation I thought about when I saw this. Oh great! The insurance company will put this in my car and monitor it and know my every move. How fast I go. Where I go, when and how often.

Not only is this an invasion of privacy, I would suspect I would get worse insurance rates than I am getting now instead of better. It's just another form of insurance discrimination.

I just wonder how many suckers they got to sign up for this "DEAL"

speed doesn't kill (2)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 13 years ago | (#140606)

but stupid drivers do.

I'm not sure I like the fines for speeding; but if they could have one for failure to use a turn signal, I'd be all for it!

Good business plan? (1)

bool (144199) | more than 13 years ago | (#140623)

I don't think I know of anyone that doesn't exceed the speed limit at one point or another. If everyone that rents from these guys is going to start seeing fines for going 5mph over the limit they aren't going to be around to long.

do { Work(); PayTaxes(); Eat(); Sleep(); } while (alive)

Out of State (1)

bool (144199) | more than 13 years ago | (#140624)

What if you rent a car in a stat with a 55mph limit then drive it to a state with no speed limit. You aren't breaking the law. Will you still incure a fine? This could even allow car rental businesses to set personal limits. You sign something stating that you won't exceed 45mph.

do { Work(); PayTaxes(); Eat(); Sleep(); } while (alive)

read the contract (1)

josu (144992) | more than 13 years ago | (#140625)

Why would you sign something unless you agreed to it?

Re:55mph... (4)

Lizard_King (149713) | more than 13 years ago | (#140628)

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.


Re:So... (1)

cmat (152027) | more than 13 years ago | (#140634)

Unfortunately, while I agree with you, your comment "So this bozo got caught..." is wrong. He didn't get "caught" by authorities or those that are empowered to uphold the speed limit. Therefore to take what you're suggesting further, by your reasoning anybody that catches someone else speeding (and yes, building a radar gun is not that difficult if you want to do the legwork to find out how it works), can fine the offender. I don't think that makes a whole lot of sense. ;)

The biggest thing that we get from letting the police do their job is that no matter whether they do a good or bad job, it's one entity at work and not a bunch of people with different biases, values and objectiviness.

The tollbooth example is different, as again there's a central entity regulating the use and what can and can't be done. And there's also the matter of reconciliation, as in the offender has a chance to say his/her side of the story and contest what could be a possible error in the ticket.

Anyways, just my view of it. :)


Sammy Haggar (1)

blowhole (155935) | more than 13 years ago | (#140639)

"I can't drive..... FIFTY FIVE!"

Between that and "Mas Tequila," driving just ain't what it used to be.

Re:speed doesn't kill (2)

peccary (161168) | more than 13 years ago | (#140644)

I'm not sure I like the fines for speeding; but if they could have one for failure to use a turn signal, I'd be all for it!

When I took driver's ed, oh, a couple of decades ago now, I'm pretty sure they told us that you could be fined for failure to use a turn signal. I admit I was distracted by the hot blonde next to me, but I did pass, so I don't think I was hallucinating that part.

Re:So... (1)

richlb (168636) | more than 13 years ago | (#140648)

Ah, but that's not quite the same. He wasn't ticketed by the police, but by the company he rented from who was providing a service. Imagine if next time you bought a computer, you were "fined" every time you visited an "illegal" internet site.

Speed tracking using GPS? (1)

HobNob (177770) | more than 13 years ago | (#140662)

Does this AirQ device actually use the GPS signal to record the ground speed, or is it linked to the speedometer? Because I have a GPS with a 'maximum speed recorded' feature, and I sometimes find it's quite inaccurate. This is probably due to the tendency to the location to 'snap' instantenously when satellite visibility changes, making it look like I travelled half a block in 5 seconds.

If this sort of thing becomes widespread, I hope that whoever makes the in-car GPS units (Garmin?) has some good legal defense against being sued for innaccurately reporting speed.

-- Bob

Crossing the line (1)

pizen (178182) | more than 13 years ago | (#140663)

It's the local government's responsibility to deal with speeding. It's a crime and the car rental company doesn't have any jurisdiction in handing out citations. I think he probably has a case because it seems that the rental company is impersonating a police officer. On a related topic, in the Atlanta area recently I've seen DOT cars pulling over motorists for speeding. Doesn't the DOT have other things to worry about and isn't this, again, under local jurisdiction?

Eyes on the road (1)

mp3car (179460) | more than 13 years ago | (#140666)

Forcing customers to watch the speedometer rather than the road is always an ideal situation. Don't need to speed if cars crash into you.

Re:well (5)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

Re:So... (1)

gughunter (188183) | more than 13 years ago | (#140676)

The point the article raised was that the fine was imposed by a private company, not via the courts; and the private company did not disclose that it had rigged the car to monitor this. Legal, maybe, but in questionable taste.

Re:outside of rental cars... (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 13 years ago | (#140679)

If the auto industry were receptive to adding car features at the government's whim, and the government were interested in enforcing speed limit laws with a hammer of justice, then the cars we buy would already be mechanically stunted to prevent them from going any faster than 65 mph.
Yet, I can get above 90 mph in my cheapo economy car.

Re:Hrm (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 13 years ago | (#140689)

No, you would be flying.

Taking the Law into Their Own Hands (rhetorical) (4)

robbway (200983) | more than 13 years ago | (#140698)

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?


Re:55mph... (1)

dj28 (212815) | more than 13 years ago | (#140710)

WTF? My car wont even do over 80.

Re:Crossing the line (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 13 years ago | (#140712)

Another source of reelection income for Roy...

;^) (I hope)

outside of rental cars... (5)

B00yah (213676) | more than 13 years ago | (#140713)

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

Due Process Clause (1)

bearclaw (217359) | more than 13 years ago | (#140718)

I'd be interested to hear how this might violate his due process rights under his state's and the federal consitution. Also, how does the legality of red-light camera's carry over to the legality of GPS based "speed monitors"?

Also, does ACME have the right to impose different fines for a criminal violation (state speeding fines vs. ACME's new speeding fines)? Does this violate his due-process rights?

Very interesting.

well (2)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 13 years ago | (#140725)

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.

I don't see any "Big Brother" thing here, if everyone voted with your wallet, offensive companies would go out of business.

What? (4)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 13 years ago | (#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. []

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.

Why in the world would they use GPS! (1)

Microsift (223381) | more than 13 years ago | (#140730)

It seems like it would be a lot easier/ more accurate to track your speed with an onboard computer.

Re:Speed tracking using GPS? (1)

Drakantus (226374) | more than 13 years ago | (#140734)

>making it look like I travelled half
>a block in 5 seconds

That isn't very fast...

Re:speed doesn't kill (2)

Drakantus (226374) | more than 13 years ago | (#140736)

I agree totally. I'll stop speeding when people quit useing exits as 3rd lanes and then cutting back into the real lane. Or driving 10 under the limit in the left lane when the right lane is going faster. Or a million other things that cause more traffic and accidents than speeding ever does (cellphones).

Accuracy (1)

stapedium (228055) | more than 13 years ago | (#140738)

In SCCA road rally, where you try to drive a specified average speed over the course, GPS has been very accurate. I would say to within a couple MPH over a 3 mile leg at 35 MPH.

I'm not sure how accurate this will be for peak speeds or instanteneous speeds though. The onboard computers in most cars would likely be much better sources of finding exactly how fast a car has been driven over the past week.

my first question.... (1)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#140739)

is who cares? Why does the rental company care if the driver gets the speeding ticket? It's the renter's insurance that increases and their licence that gets affected.

And as for the "humanitarian reasons" for the GPS monitoring, I'll assume next that they will only rent out economy cars and not the gas guzzling sport utes or luxury cars because they have adverse effects on the environment. Perhaps they will only rent electric cars.


Murphy's Law of Copiers

Re:It's being studied in England (1)

cicadia (231571) | more than 13 years ago | (#140754)

Actually, there was an article on slashdot [] back in January about it.

What? I've had my car up to 976 mph (4)

chaboud (231590) | more than 13 years ago | (#140756)

Coming out of a tunnel on the Penna turnpike, my eMap [] 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 [] would probably have something to say about me smashing his record though.

Theme Song (2)

clinko (232501) | more than 13 years ago | (#140761)

I think they have a new theme song.

I can't drive Fifty-FIIIIVE!!!

Fun Way To Fight Back (1)

bdlinux13 (232862) | more than 13 years ago | (#140762)

Pay for the car in cash, but give them a new fresh credit card you just got(then call and cancel your credit card. Tell the credit card company you will NO accept or make any more charges on this card). From there take your car to a closed circuit track and go 80, then stop, go 80 then stop. keep doing this... do this b/c it seems to me they are charging you for stop and go speeding. If you drive 110 from GA To Cali they will charge you $150, but if you drive from Florida to South Carolina and stop 20 times while going 110 21 times, your fine will be outrageous.


I am the blob (239590) | more than 13 years ago | (#140772)

This is unbelievably short-sighted.

My state government isn't even this stupid. If you travel on the turnpike, you get a ticket, stamped with the current time/date, when you get on the highway. When you get off, they run your ticket through a machine which calculates your toll. It could trivially calculate your average speed and the nice person at the gate could hand you a speeding ticket with your change.

Fortunately, they don't. Because if they did, people would stop using the turnpike, and they'd lose income.

I'm not a fan of rental-car agencies in general, but I'll certainly never use this one.


Re:Hrm (5)

Aztech (240868) | more than 13 years ago | (#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."

2 points (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#140832)

The first point is that speeding is illegal and you ought not do it. Excessive speeding is dangerous to the speeding driver as well as others who are on the road. It's a bad thing to do in general.

The second point is that this kind of Big Brother-ism on the part of the rental car company can be quickly dealt with be actually posting the name of the company. Let's say it was Avis (I don't know, let's just pretend). If Avis decides to do this, Budget can then advertise that they don't "spy" on their customers. Customers then vote with their feet. Companies who may have previously had rental agreements with Avis would also back out because the extra expenses accrued by business travelers would be intimidating.

In a capitalistic society, voting with your feet effects the greatest change without having to resort to government involvement.

Dancin Santa

Re:Too bad (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#140833)

I've seen too many roadrunner cartoons to have any faith in ACME.

Dancin Santa

Re:Privacy? (1)

imaginate (305769) | more than 13 years ago | (#140859)

hell yeah - I wish I had some mod points right now...

Re:Ghost writer? (1)

SmallTooth (311064) | more than 13 years ago | (#140863)

I prefer the idea of the James Bond missle option to a push button. Much more dramatic.

It's contract law, just a wee bit different (3)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#140874)

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.)

I've Always Thought (2)

increduloidx (409461) | more than 13 years ago | (#140884)

That such a device, if accurate, would be an excellent deterrent to speeding, and perhaps goverors which would otherwise prevent exceeding the limit. However, the problem then becomes when the situation arises such that speeding is nessecary. What if you need to pass someone? Someone begins to threaten you on the road? Anything. I've always thought an "Override" button would be just the thing. You'd have to explain to the proper authorities why it was you needed to speed, and thus, by examining previous records, they would grant or deny the appeal.

the liberator who destroyed my property has realigned my perception

Ghost writer? (2)

sllort (442574) | more than 13 years ago | (#140894)

This article was obviously ghost written by a slashdot reader:

"The van was equipped with a Global Positioning System, or GPS, which transmits data via satellite."

Something that blatantly wrong could never come from a real reporter (could it?)

The question does arise, however, as to how it really works. The GPS signal IS received from a satellite, however a transmitter that could send back to a satellite from a moving car would require a directional dish antenna and... ya, stupid.

So how ARE they getting the data back? The easiest way would be to record it in flash and dump it after the car is returned. Another way would be to use burst-mode packets like 2-way pagers & LoJack.

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. Someday we'll be able to just switch off those retarded SUV drivers on the freeway with the push of a button!

Re:well (1)

therealsludge (442772) | more than 13 years ago | (#140895)

Ahhh.... Don't you think that issuing fines for going "over" the speedlimit is a little ridiculous, especially when it is recorded by GPS? Couldn't they just put a governor on the vehicle to prohibit you from exceeding the maximum speedlimit in that state? Yes, I know that they could typically speed in a residential area that has a 30mph limit. You would think that if it could turn the car off, they could come up with a way to limit the speedlimit through GPS? It sounds like all they want is extra money for something that they could control. Shame on them!

sb bs bs bs (1)

tlizi (451562) | more than 13 years ago | (#140903)

speeding is bad, don't do speeding, if you go fast you're bad...

bs. i'm sooo happy I live in italy where the speed limit is subjective, the road police inexistent, and nobody will ever sue you because they'd have to spend 6x more money just to buy the judje and jury to get them to fine you. the only person I know who got fined for speeding got caught at 5:30 in the morning in the middle of august.

mod me down - like I care

Re:55mph... (1)

Blue Aardvark House (452974) | more than 13 years ago | (#140905)

True. In most states, it's 10 MPH over the limit, since fines for small speeding infractions are not very high. It's a case of "bigger fish to fry".

And for the parents... (2)

Blue Aardvark House (452974) | more than 13 years ago | (#140906)

...a model of AirIQ that can detect when your daughter is having sex in the back seat!

Instant peace-of-mind!

Hey, it's THEIR cars... (1)

Zooka (457908) | more than 13 years ago | (#140917)

The way I see it, if they don't want you to speed in THEIR car, it's their right. But since it seems that most people drive over the speed limit, they are sure to loose a lot of customers over this. (esp. return customers, after they've been slapped with fines...)

Re:Ghost writer? (1)

Zooka (457908) | more than 13 years ago | (#140918)

Something that blatantly wrong could never come from a real reporter (could it?)

Sure as heck could!
I expect as much (if not more) inaccuracy from "real" reporters as from /. readers...

Re:really? (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 13 years ago | (#140921)

I go over 55 all the time . . .

Really? How do you park?

In the lawyer's office (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 13 years ago | (#140922)

Lawyer: Well, sir, I'm afraid you don't have a leg to stand on. You signed the contract and ACME debited your account in accordance with the contract. It's a legal contract. We have no case.

Driver: But there must be something I can do about this! I can't go 55! My livelihood depends on being the fastest thing on the road!

Lawyer looks puzzled by this statement, then shrugs.

Lawyer: Well, sir, you could always go with another rental company.

Driver: Another...huh? What do you mean? There aren't any other companies. ACME is all there is!

Lawyer stops dead; he is completely at sea. A pause.

Lawyer: I beg your pardon, Mr. Coyote?

Varying Speed Limits (1)

MrR0p3r (460183) | more than 13 years ago | (#140942)

As far as I know, not all states are regulated (even on so-called "Interstates) to be 55mph at all points on Highways. I know, for instance, when travling west on I-70 from Ohio to Virginia, you run in to three different speed limits (Ohio:65mph, West Virginia:70mph, Virginia: back to 65mph), none of which are 55mph. So that raises the issue, what if I am driving in a state that has a speed limit that is higher than 55mph (or, nay even Montana, which doesn't even have a speed limit on various Highways). Will I still get the fine?

And of course, the obvious issue of jurisdiction. If Acme can charge a customer for going over 55mph in a car, what about an everyday citizen driving down the road? Can I pull them over, or track them down using their license plate and slap them with a fine at will? An everyday citizen could prove they were speeding by matching their speed, checking it on their own GPS and printing the result. (seems kind of lengthy and roundabout...but possible none-the-less) One of the duties of a traffic officer is to keep the roadways safe. I for one doesn't want to see my hard earned tax dollars wasted by a company that wants to regulate their customer's speed themselves. If that is the case...then how about a tax credit?

Just a thought...

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