A patent issued in August to Allstate Corp. talks about using sensors and cameras “to record potential sources of driver distraction within the vehicle (e.g. pets, phone usage, unsecured objects in the vehicle).”
It’s been titled “Traffic Based Analysis” and the patent was filed August 11 this year. It would allow Allstate access to monitors and cameras already installed on a variety of today’s vehicles – also known as spying. It also gives room for new methods Allstate could use to check up on drivers.
Ok, can we take a break here? Couldn’t this technology be used in a better way? Tapping in on my car’s on-board systems and telemetry seems pretty menial considering entire airplanes get lost or taken over (or have had attempts at being taken over). Maybe this particular technology is better used there and not in my car? Just a thought.
Back to what Allstate has listed it wants to measure in your vehicle. Here’s a short list:
- Who is riding in the car, including number and age of passengers
- Driver’s phone use while driving*
- Eating habits of the driver
- Potentially distracting objects in the car, including animals, trash, or bags**
- Seating position
- Driver’s eye line
- Stereo Volume
- Heart Rate***
- Blood Pressure***
*At least that’s something that actually matters
** Do children count?
***There are millions of people with untreated high blood pressure and there are those of us with anxiety issues. Who is Allstate – particularly if I’m not insured by them – to tell me I can’t drive my car because I’m not healthy, at least by their standards?!
Allstate company spokesperson Laura Strykowski said the technology would “provide drivers with broader information about traffic conditions and external factors that could better equip them to drive safe.” (Insert seeing-brain-matter-eye-roll here).
However, J. Robert Howard, former Texas insurance commissioner and current insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America, has defined the patent as “the invasion of the spy car.”
“So my car spies on me and on other drivers near me?” Hunter said to the Chicago Tribune. “Even if I give permission for this intrusive technology, my car spies on unsuspecting passengers and even on unsuspecting pedestrians or cars passing by?”
Hunter is also concerned about the “liability and intrusiveness” and potential to get sensitive information like ATM PIN numbers.
All this makes me wish I could work from home, walk to, or ride a bus to work. How far will the government let things like this go? And, back to Hunter’s concern about liability who exactly will be held liable when that unsuspecting passenger sues? Surely, not Allstate.
Does anyone else feel like George Orwell’s 1984 is upon us?