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GPS Vehicle Tracking

Written By: Frank Hague

GPS monitors have a multitude of legitimate uses, but have also generated controversy as they further diminish privacy. Some customers of car rental companies have complained that their movements have been tracked without their consent by the installation of GPS vehicle tracking systems in rental vehicles. However, the positive uses of this technology have, at least so far, outweighed the negatives.

Fitness enthusiasts use GPS tracking devices to measure distances remaining in marathons, and back-country hikers use them to prevent themselves from getting lost (or to facilitate rescue if they already are). Police can enforce restraining orders and parole conditions by stopping criminals from stalking victims and being in neighborhoods (such as near playgrounds) where they are forbidden. Lost and stolen vehicles can be located with the touch of a button. Parents can use GPS vehicle tracking to check on teenagers’ driving habits to make sure these inexperienced drivers are not speeding or otherwise endangering themselves and their passengers. And GPS in-car navigation systems can guide drivers through unfamiliar terrain to their destination.

Information Loggers (Passive Tracking)

These basic systems are for companies or individuals who seeking a record of an asset’s or even person’s whereabouts during a given time period, without the ability or cost of real-time tracking. These are useful for fleet management.

GPS vehicle tracking eliminates moonlighting with company vehicles. It reduces accidents and lowers insurance premiums by promoting safe employee driving habits. GPS vehicle tracking creates reports of miles driven by each vehicle. Fleet management will reduce the company fuel bill and increase miles driven per gallon of fuel. Some GPS systems even have maintenance modules to inform the fleet manager when each vehicle is due for an oil change or tire rotation.

Real Time (Active Tracking)

This allows the user to watch the progress of the persons or assets travelling in real-time from their PC. This option is more expensive because of the costs of devices, programs and air-time charges for communication between the PC and the asset. It is used, for instance, by a taxi company to dispatch the closest available vehicle to a customer.

In Europe,some of the most popular in-car tracking systems are the Tom-Tom Navigator, Magellan Roadmate, Navman and Garvin. They range in price from five hundred to a thousand dollars, depending on what features are chosen by the user.

TomTom GO 300 offers the most easy-to use GPS system of travel planning throughout the UK. This award winning private navigation program is a portable, cable-less design that fits in any briefcase, handbag or even backpack. TomTom GO 300 is ideal for any car driver. It is easy to install, just plug in, switch on and drive away. There is no need for a PC link, in fact no technical knowledge is needed at all. It fits simply into the included car mounting kit, which is easily attached to the car dashboard or windshield. It is extremely easy to opertate: just turn it on and users can instantly access all the programs, maps and colour 3D navigation views, as well as voice-guided instructions in their chosen language. It has a touch screen interface to avoid fumbling with multiple buttons or extra devices while sitting in traffic. The touch screen is totally intuitive and the entire route can be planned with just a couple of screen taps. The features of this user-friendly system along with its relatively low price (around 700 dollars) has made it a hit with consumers.

Others, such as the Magellan Roadmate, are slightly more difficult to use but also come with a database of maps and local attractions such as restaurants.

In North American, the most popular brands are Garmin and Magellan.

Selecting the Right GPS Unit for Your Needs: Handheld vs Dash-Mounted

When selecting between a handheld unit versus a dash-mounted unit for your vehicle, consider whether you may want to use it for any other purpose, such as boating or camping.

Pros and Cons of Dash-Mounted GPS Units Advantages

Larger screens with better resolution which are simple to read at a glance even in poor lighting conditions More sophisticated models have features such route recalculation if the driver diverges from the planned route

Larger buttons for ease of operation while driving

Unit is securely attached to your vehicle to thwart theft

Some units have voice instructions that communicate distance, street names, and direction of the next turn thus keeping the driver’s eyes on the road instead of on the screen

No batteries needed, runs off car battery

Address lookup capabilities

Some units have a individual address book to store locations for quick and simple search

Advanced mapping capabilities

Better reception outside the city

Boosts car resale value

Disadvantages

Difficult to remove from vehicle if you decide to use it elsewhere

Larger footprint in/on dashboard

Too large for use by bikers, kayakers or hikers.

More expensive

Hopefully this advice will help you find the best unit for your needs among all the different GPS vehicle tracking units available.
About the Author

Frank Hague does not have a GPS vehicle tracking device yet. http://www.gps-vehicle-tracking.info

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