Big Brother is Watching: Good or Bad?

Whether we like it or not, cars and trucks that are truly "smart" are imminent. Employers will be challenged to decide how much they want to monitor and also control the behind-the-wheel behavior of their workers. Financially speaking, they won't have a choice -- they'll have to exert that control.

The PRAISE report issued last week by the European Transport Safety Council examines how 10 in-vehicle active and passive safety technologies are being used in Europe. These technologies limit vehicles' speed, automatically maintain a following distance from the vehicle ahead, record braking and speed data, warn that an object is too close, prevent skids, and can partially or fully brake the vehicle autonomously. Accident claims, injuries, deaths, and costs decline when these systems are used, according to ETSC, which founded PRAISE (Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees) in May 2009.

ETSC is taking its road safety message to several EU member states in Country Seminars that begin this week in Warsaw, Poland. Fleet safety managers, government leaders, and road safety experts will hear how the technologies are working elsewhere -- particularly in Sweden -- and surely will follow its lead, if they can afford it.

Last year, a former state trooper told me that most U.S. drivers don't realize how much data their vehicles already record -- data that accident investigators access routinely. If the European technology trend sweeps America in turn, speeding, drunken driving, tailgating, and other hazardous driver behaviors soon could be blocked by our very own vehicles.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Sep 23, 2009