Like with most other forms of GPS tracking, when it comes to vehicle tracking using GPS there are two main types: real-time tracking and passive, logging tracking. Depending on why you want to track a certain vehicle will determine which method of tracking you employ. However, it is important to note that GPS vehicle tracking is more viable today than it has ever been in the history of GPS or vehicle tracking so there are going to be a lot of different options for the person serious about finding an option that works best for them.
There is also going to be a distinction between those who want to track a vehicle with GPS for personal use and those that want to employ vehicle tracking for a business. The equipment and the systems used will differ in quality and design, but not necessarily in how they work – they will be using GPS tracking technology to find, record, and report the location of a vehicle to someone. As we will see, it is how these devices do this that matters.
Real Time GPS Vehicle Tracking
When most people think about GPS based vehicle tracking they think of tracking that occurs in real time. If a vehicle is at 101 North Main Street then a person is going to want to be able to look at a computer running some GPS tracking software and be able to tell that. If the vehicle then turns left down Michigan Street they want to be able to tell that this has occurred within a reasonable amount of time – say 5 seconds. This is the power of real time GPS tracking.
But there are several things that you have to realize if you are going to choose this type of GPS vehicle tracking system:
Tracking devices that offer updates in real time are often anything but cheap. It can run you hundreds of dollars just for the hardware that gets the tracking off the ground. On top of the hardware purchase there is going to be a service fee of some amount depending on the company that you choose to service your GPS tracking plan. Different companies will work with different hardware and some companies will charge you more than others for access to your real-time tracking information. Most companies are going to make your tracking data available through a GoogleMaps-like interface, so it should come down to who is going to offer you the best price for the services that you really need.
Not all GPS tracking devices are created equal. The more modern the device the more likely it is going to have the latest technology in terms of GPS receptiveness and communication technology. For example, the newer SiRFstarIII chipset is widely accepted as being superior to other previous GPS chips. It acquires a signal much faster and can even get a GPS signal where many other older GPS chipsets cannot. You are also going to want to make sure that your GPS has access to GPRS, a system that will allow your GPS tracking device to transmit the data it gathers on the vehicle to the software that will display it for you on your computer screen.
In addition to the paid services you can get some GPS tracking for free. Probably the best vehicle trackers are cell phones, especially since there are tons of free GPS tracking applications for them. While you won’t get a lot out of this type of free service, if you put some thought and work into you can use a free tracking program to do all sorts of cool stuff. It normally doesn’t scale too well, so this type of tracking is only really going to work for an individual, a family, or a small business that want to track their vehicles with GPS.
Most people who choose to use real time GPS vehicle tracking fall into one of two categories, they want to use it for GPS fleet tracking or they want to track a single person. The reasons that business would choose to track their vehicles with GPS are obvious. Most small businesses that employ some form of GPS tracking generally see an increase in the number of services orders that their fleet fulfills in just two years time. The average increase they see is around 25%, making GPS tracking a very useful tool in the chest of a business owner.
If used appropriately, real time fleet tracking can improve worker productivity, create a positive work environment, improve vehicle routing, streamline fleet maintenance, and encourage efficient work habits. This can be a win-win for employees and employers alike if deployed with tact.
Then there is using real time GPS tracking for personal use. Here is a list of some of the reasons that a person may choose to use a personal GPS vehicle tracking system:
Know when a spouse with an erratic schedule is on their way home.
Keep connected with family members while on a long road trip.
This list is by no means exhaustive and is simply supposed to be a small indication of the different things that a person can do with this type of technology. The possibilities are really limited by our imagination and ingenuity.
GPS Vehicle Tracking Loggers
Data loggers are a completely different beast. While they do work off the same basic GPS principles that real time trackers work off of, they do not have the all important real time capabilities that GPRS gives a real time tracker. Loggers are mostly used in covert GPS vehicle tracking done by police or by private parties to help them get a better understanding of a person’s activities. For example, there was a GPS vehicle tracking logger at the center of the warantless GPS tracking case. This device was used by police, who had a warrant by the way, to track down the activity of a suspected stalker. They installed it on his car and waited about two weeks. The evidence was then downloaded on the police computers where they were able to place the suspect at the scene of a stalking incident that happened during the time when the GPS tracking was active.
The GPS vehicle tracking equipment used in this type of tracking is often much cheaper than other their real time tracking counterparts. You can generally get one of these devices for under $200 and they can provide location information for months since they track vehicles passively. Also, you won’t have to worry about an expensive service fee because these devices have no such fee. They don’t use GPRS nor do they need to communicate with a third party. All GPS tracking software is going to be installed locally on one of your own computers so no one else has to know about the data that you gather.
Also, data loggers (like GPS tracking sticks) generally have a much longer active battery life than do real time GPS trackers. This is because transmitting data via GPRS can be very taxing on a units power supply. Without constant power it can be difficult to get real time information on a target that you want to track in secret and going back to the scene of the tracker could lead to having it found out by the person you want to track covertly.
This makes it great for covert GPS tracking or for tracking a person in secret. While real time tracking is certainly going to be more useful if you want to take action on data while something is actually happening, data logging can be just as useful for vehicle tracking.
Which GPS Tracking Solution Best Meets Your Needs?
When you come to the final analysis you will have to weigh your budget constraints with your tracking wishes. I don’t think that there are many people who would prefer a data logger over a real time tracker, but money is a serious limitation for some people and they simply cannot afford the cost associated with live tracking capabilities. No matter which option you go with you can be certain that there is a GPS vehicle tracking device out there for you, your needs, and your budget.
Before we jump into the ins and outs, ups and downs of GPS tracking for cars let’s take a second to put this type of GPS application into perspective. Let’s look at a real life example of how this technology is actually being used with great effectiveness today. This will help us better understand how we can use GPS tracking to better monitor the activity of our teen driver, our cheating spouse, a company vehicle, an employee, or even our own activity. This technology is here and is only going to become more pervasive as it continues to tumble in price and more and more companies get in on the car tracking action. The following is a brief excerpt from a news article that ran in the Washington Post:
Someone was attacking women in Fairfax County and Alexandria, grabbing them from behind and sometimes punching and molesting them before running away. After logging 11 cases in six months, police finally identified a suspect.
David Lee Foltz Jr., who had served 17 years in prison for rape, lived near the crime scenes. To figure out if Foltz was the assailant, police pulled out their secret weapon: They put a Global Positioning System device on Foltz’s van, which allowed them to track his movements.
Police said they soon caught Foltz dragging a woman into a wooded area in Falls Church. After his arrest on Feb. 6, the string of assaults suddenly stopped. The break in the case relied largely on a crime-fighting tool they would rather not discuss.
If GPS tracking can help the police get a felon off the streets, making them safer, what do you think it can do for you?
Teens are notoriously bad drivers. They speed; the perform jack rabbit starts and sudden stops; they take turns too quickly; they change lanes without signaling; they text while driving – this is all dangerous activity that could end up getting them and their fellow drivers killed.
The strange part about all this is that this is generally not how they drive when you are with them. When you are sitting in the car right next to them the last thing on their mind is answering a friends text message. Instead, they drive with both hands on the steering wheel, eyes are fixed on the road, and they are well within the speed limit. Teens drive recklessly and dangerously when parents are not around.
So how can parents concerned about their teen’s driving habits be with a teen, watching their driving habits, even when they are not in the vehicle with them – through GPS tracking for cars.
I am a firm proponent of telling your teen that you are tracking there car if you do decide to do so. My reasons for feeling this way are three fold: 1) the device will not act as a deterrent of bad driving practices if they don’t know it is there, 2) it is much easier and most effective to discipline your child when they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions, and 3) you won’t be violating the trust of your teen by doing something “sneaky” to them.
Tracking As Deterrent
Your teen won’t act like you are in the car with them if they think that you don’t know how they are driving. The whole point of the tracking device is to prevent your teen from getting into a car wreck because they were doing something stupid behind the wheel. The reasoning behind this will go something like this:
Premise 1: Your teen drives safely when you are in the car with them.
Premise 2: Your teen, at times, drives unsafely when you are not in the car with them.
Premise 3: Having GPS tracking for cars in your teen’s vehicle is like having you in the car.
Conclusion: Your teen will drive like you are in the car with them if they know that the GPS tracking device for cars in the vehicle.
This is a rather simple logic expression where the premises seem to be mostly true. The only one that will have any difficulty being true is Premise 3. Just because the teen knows that you are tracking their every move in the car does not mean that they are always going to act like you are tracking them in the car. They will forget about it, or get caught up in a moment, or take a risk that you won’t check the logs for that specific moment. It is in these instances where we as concerned parents must use discipline in conjunction with the car tracking device.
Tracking and Discipline
One hallmark of good parenting is laying an effective foundation for discipline by making sensible, enforceable, and fair rules. This one of the most important components of using GPS tracking to effectively monitor your teen’s driving behaviors.
Here’s why: you have installed your GPS tracking device in the car, set up good rules that are sensible and fair – the punishment is commensurate with the specific bad driving behavior, but your teen still ends up going 85 mph in a 65 mph zone. You see, they simply forgot that you know what they do when they drive. The music they were listening too or the conversation they were having on the phone overwhelmed their developing brain and they were unable to remember to keep the speed in check.
Luckily, nothing terrible happened to them or to another driver – but how can a teen realize that they are being tracked? One way to do so is to punish bad behavior. Because they broke the speed limit rules that your family put in place they are required to pay the penalty for doing so. Get creative in the rules that you have for certain offenses and only use the suspension of driving privileges for especially grievous offenses.
I think we all pretty much understand how to punish poor driving, but have you considered the other side of the coin? How are you rewarding your teen for safe driving? Rewards are often much better at motivating a teen toward right action than punishment, since punishment is primarily backward looking while reward is forward thinking.
In almost all cases, a mixture of reward and punishment is most effective at training a person to behave a certain way while driving. You can get creative with what you pick and be sure to spend time thinking about what is going to work best for you, your teen, and the safety of other drivers on the road.
Tracking and Trust
Here is a quick video about how the use of secret GPS tracking on your teens car can lead to bad reactions from teens (it is one of our the featured GPS tracking videos):
In my opinion, these parents were well within their responsibilities to attach a secret GPS tracking to their teen’s truck – it is their property (the truck, not the teen) and they do have a responsibility to raise their teen in a safe way – but I just don’t think it is a very effective way to be a responsible parent.
The reactions of this teenage boy are classic. He denies wrong doing, shows signs of anger, and generally feels that his parents violated his rights. They didn’t violate them, but he sure feels like they did. It is my opinion that he is really just upset that his parents tracked him without his knowledge. He was surprised when he found out that they knew his secret (driving over 95 mph!) when he didn’t know they had a way of knowing that. His expectations were wrong and he responded with anger.
Now imagine this situation if the parents had told their teenage son that they were going to track his car to ensure his safety, recover their vehicle if it was stolen, and help them enforce some of the family’s expected driving habits. Sure, he might have put up a fuss at having that conversation and expressed his desire not to have the device installed, but once it was installed he would have know that any unsafe driving practices would be recorded.
He probably would not have driven 95 mph in the first place, and if he did he would have know that his parents were going to find out and punish him according to the rules of the family. This might have been unpleasant, but at least he would have know it was coming!
Devices to Track A Teens Car
One device that will could be considered top of the line for this type of tracking is the LiveWire Unlimited™ Fleet/Car GPS Tracker. It is a permanent solution that is installed inside your car and can be customized to fit you needs.
Another avenue that you could try is tracking your teen’s cell phone. Since most teens carry their cell phone with them everywhere this can be a cheap and cost effective way to get a grasp on your teen’s driving habits.
Both of these option can be very effective at monitor your teens driving habits.
It is never okay to cheat on a significant other, never. So when you suspect your lover of cheating I am of the opinion that the one who is being cheated on has a lot of leverage when it comes to being able to verify if their suspicions are true or not. They can monitor all electronic communications (including cell phone call logs, text messages, emails, and instant messages), track their car with GPS, talk with their friends, make unannounced visits, inspect their clothes, and even install cameras around the house or in a vehicle to help monitor their activity.
Knowing where there car is is particularly important in catching a cheating spouse, but only if the cheating goes on at locations where the individual does not normally attend. If, for example, they are cheating at work while they should be at work then a spouse who is GPS tracking their car will have no way of using this information to catch them cheating.
But if they are going to a hotel, or their lover’s apartment, or they say that they are going one place to hang out with their buddies and then they go somewhere else and you have a GPS device installed in their car then you are going to know about their indiscretion and be able to catch them in their lying, cheating ways. And, since GPS technology is becoming even more reliable than it already was, you will have a very solid case when you go to confront them with the issue, divorce them or go to the location of their trysts.
With GPS tracking for cars you get back into the driver seat of your relationship and take back the power and the trust that your partner tried to steal from you by cheating on you.
A good way to improve the performance of a fleet of vehicles is to install some GPS tracking devices in them. This will have a positive impact on several of your fleet’s performance metrics over the course of 2 years, according to an Aberdeen group study on the impact of GPS fleet tracking on small businesses. Among the most impressive metrics to increase over the two year test period was the number of service calls logged by company employees and a marked increase in a drivers ability to make on time service calls and deliveries.
According to the study, small business (defined as vehicle fleets that consisted of 1 to 10 cars, trucks, or vans) increased the number of work orders that they were able to complete by an astonishing 25%. How would you like to make a $500 initial investment with some reoccurring fees to get 25% more out your work force? I think most employers would love this arrangement.
But how does GPS tracking for cars improve this critical fleet performance metric so drastically? I think the main two reasons that it works so well is that it keeps workers honest and it helps streamline transit times.
It should be obvious to everyone that workers do not really work for 8 full hours even when they punch that in on their time card. Sometimes they take breaks when they aren’t supposed to, push lunch 15 minutes longer than they should, or end work early because they “won’t” be able to finish a job before their shift is over. When all is said and done, most workers (according to a 2007 survey at Salary.com) waste around 20% of their day doing no work related activities while they are on the clock. That is a staggering statistic and seems to explain a lot of the increased productivity that GPS tracking devices engender in small fleets. Workers simply stop wasting time when they know that the boss is watching.
The additional 5% increase in worker productivity is probably related to the fact that workers are able to find the most efficient, time-effective route when traveling to work locations or delivery destinations.
Another use of GPS tracking for cars is for personal efficiency. This is probably not the most cost-effective thing for an individual to do, but if you want real-time GPS tracking of your own movement there are probably devices that will work out great for you.
One subset of people that might find this interesting are off-roaders and street racers – people whose activities take them off beaten paths or who want to be able to relive past experiences that they have had out on the road or off in the middle of nowhere. Real-time tracking is also useful for these individuals if something where to happen to them on a ride and they needed immediate medical attention – all it would take is a quick look at the GPS information provided by the tracking device and help would be on the way.
Again, this isn’t going to be a cost effective way of getting this information – but for some it might be appealing.
Update May 2009: It appears that the T Trac XS GPS Car Tracking System is not longer available from Brickhouse Security.
This GPS tracking system is very popular – with over 200,000 devices in use in 18 countries being serviced by Brickhouse security. The reason for this is because it is the #1 GPS tracking system utilized by the police and private investigators all over the country. Some of the reasons for its popularity with these individuals is the device has a 3 months battery life when you have 4 AA batteries installed. Another key feature is its small size – 5.78″ x 2.99″ x 1.44″ – and light weight – 7 ounces with 4 AA Alkaline Batteries – making it highly concealable on the outside or inside of a car. This device is excellent for covert GPS tracking, keeping tabs on a spouse suspected of cheating, or secretly monitoring an employees activity.
The service provided by Brickhouse Security is top notch and the device comes with a 1 year warranty. You can find out more about this device or make a purchase here: T-Trac XS Internet GPS Car Tracking System
LiveWire Unlimited™ Fleet/Car GPS Tracker
Unlike the T-Trac, the LiveWire tracker hooks directly into the vehicle. This means that as long as the car has power – so does your GPS tracking unit. You will never need to change the devices batteries, which is a great plus for long-term tracking applications like teen driver monitoring and company car tracking.
One particularly useful feature of the LiveWire is that it comes with Skype integration. This means that on the tracking interface on your web browser that lets you see vehicle activity all you need to do to call the driver of the vehicle through your Skype account is click on their vehicle – you will automatically be patched in to the driver’s cell phone. This is a very powerful for those who would use this device for business purposes.
To learn more about the LiveWire tracker or to make an inquiry about a purchase of the device, you should contact the manufacturer of the LiveWire Unlimited™ Fleet/Car GPS Tracker.
In May of 2009, two very important cases came before appellate courts in Wisconsin and New York that had a direct effect on the use of this type of GPS tracking by law enforcement officials. The first ruling to be issued came from Wisconsin where judges ruled unanimously that police could use GPS tracking on cars without a warrant.
The difference in the rulings by the two courts points to the fact that this new technology is making waves in the legal world and the courts and legislatures must create new guidelines to help protect the right of citizens while allowing police to make use of technology in a way that saves money and helps them put more criminals behind bars.
The use of GPS tracking for cars has a lot of potential both infringe on perceived rights and improve law enforcement – but making sure that later is accomplished while the former is avoided is a pretty tough task.