DriveCam in-car surveillance cameras spy on reckless teenage drivers

A US insurance company is helping parents keep an eye on young, inexperienced drivers by installing DriveCam in-car surveillance cameras in vehicles free of charge.

Automobiles

Earlier today we reported on how UK insurers were snooping on young drivers with GPS telematics systems, and now it appears a US insurance company is keeping an even closer eye on the youth with DriveCam in-car surveillance cameras.

The two-way camera is fitted just ahead of the rear-view mirror with twin lenses capturing footage both of the road ahead and of the cabin and its occupants, according to the Daily Mail.

Rather than continuously storing all footage, Big Brother-style, the device only permanently stores footage associated with incidents that could be interpreted as dangerous driving.

Built in accelerometers detect sudden movements, so should the driver crash, swerve violently, accelerate or brake too hard, footage of what preceded and followed that event is sent to the insurance company, which then forwards the footage to the teenager and their parents.

Sadly, the system isn't advanced enough to detect acts of stupidity that aren't associated with physically reckless driving. Speeding, driving while texting and taking your eyes off the road while you check out the red-head at the bus stop will all go unnoticed unless screeching tyres are involved.

Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at US car website Edmunds.com, said the DriveCam device isn't as intrusive as rival GPS-based telematics systems.

"There's that Big Brother sort of stereotype associated with this system," he told the Kansas City Star. "But once teenagers know the only way their parents are going to see any of the video is when they do something erratic in the car, then they become more open to using this."

The service isn't currently available in the UK, but US customers of American Family Insurance can get a DriveCam added to their service at no extra charge.

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