TomTom Oz to repeat Netherlands data sale
‘Sorry’ in Dutch means ‘do it’ in English
Hard on the heels of its apology for flogging customer data to police in The Netherlands, satnav maker Tom Tom is set for a repeat performance in Australia.
TomTom attracted universal flack last week for admitting that local and regional governments in the Netherlands had used TomTom’s GPS data to help police set speed traps.
TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn, emailed an apology to customers promising that the information would not be handed to the police in that way again. "It turns out the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit. We did not foresee this type of usage.”
He added: “TomTom fully understands some of our customers do not like this and we will amend the licensing conditions to stop this type of usage in near future.”
But on Friday an executive from TomTom Australia told The Australian Financial Review that although the company intends to never to sell data in that way, it could not rule out such activity in Australia.
TomTom Australia's VP of marketing, Chris Kearney, said that the company hopes to sell its data to organisations such as the Road Traffic Authority and VicRoads in the second half of this year, but has yet to seal a deal. He said that the data sold was anonymous and impossible to trace it back to individuals.
Kearney said the company would look at ways to prevent the data being used to set speed traps (in which case, why would the police be interested?).
"A vast majority of TomTom users grant TomTom the permission to collect road speed data. In doing this they allow TomTom to better understand road congestion and to deliver a better navigation solution back to users," he said. ®
speed limits are artificial
There was a 20+ year study made on a section of road in the USA, where speed limirts were raised and lowered.
What was found was that setting speed limits near the road's natural speed resulted in motorists obeying them. Setting them stupidly low OR high resulted in motorists ignoring them and driving at the road's natural speed.
Similar research also showed the motorists are far more affected by perceived obstructions, etc and excessive laning actually resulted in people driving FASTER.
If you really want to slow traffic down NOW, increase the perceived road hazards (extra parking helps a lot) and link a speed detector to a red light down the road. No camera needed. Everything else is revenue gathering.
I'd like to see a renewed emphasis on driver ability - including heavy fines for holding traffic up, middle lane hogging and even more severe punishnments for tailgating (SUV and Mercedes owners are particularly bad for intimidating with their vehicle's size) - and _anyone_ trying to use "I have my kids in the car" as an excuse for bad driving needs to have their license stripped on the spot until they resit.
Missing the point
We all know that you risk a ticket if you speed, I don't think that is what people are complaining about. I would prefer that the police to enforce safe driving, with speed being a part of that. What this story shows is that police around the world are more interested is raising as much revenue with as little effort as possible, rather than tackling more difficult safety issues.
If there are places where unusually high numbers of people speed but there are never any accidents, as others have said, the problem is probably that the limit is wrong. While the police are camped out there, it is the things they aren't doing instead which worry me.
I tend to obey the speed limit, and how am I rewarded? Quite often by some a***hole tailgating me. Often it is a van or large 4x4, so I would come off worse in a collision. Where are the police? Busy collecting money on some perfectly safe section of dual carriageway which has been randomly given a 50mph limit.
An easy fix?
A speed limit is not difficult to understand, it is just difficult for safe drivers to do. Your eyes should be on the road, looking out for little kids, footballs, the next junction, parked vehicles blocking your view, rain, oil etc etc etc.
Undue fixation on the speed limit does not somehow make you a safer driver. Every time you look down at the tachometer, you are taking your eyes off the road. Beyond a certain point, it is no longer a benefit and becomes a detriment. Of course, speed is easy to measure, so it gets held it up as the gold standard of safe driving.
You only have to go out on the roads to see that most people drive at or around the speed limit, yet because of some variability, occasionally get caught on "safety cameras". I very rarely see anybody driving stupidly fast. On the other hand, you see plenty of people talking on phones, screaming at kids in the back, turning to talk with passengers, checking out the mini-skirts, reading maps and generally not paying attention, yet as long as they stay below some nominal speed limit, they are strangely considered safe drivers. Sure there are laws against this behaviour, but they are impossible to measure automatically, so they take a second seat to speed in all the propaganda about safe driving.
Your speed is only a secondary concern and if you don't understand this, then you shouldn't be driving a motor vehicle.