Vehicle trackers continue to evolve in their capabilities. The core function is transmitting a vehicle’s location. But can modern trackers also record other driving details? Yes, many in fact do capture and compile additional data to provide a more complete picture of how a car is driven.
Understanding what driving information car trackers can precisely record, how it’s collected and used, and your options to control it gives drivers confidence in balancing utility and privacy.
Table of Contents
- What Driving Data Can Trackers Record?
- How Driving Data is Recorded by Trackers?
- Cloud Storage of Recorded Vehicle Data
- Uses of Recorded Car Driving Data
- Who Can Access Recorded Car Driving History?
- Can You Delete Saved Driving Data?
- Is Driving Data Identifiable or Anonymous?
- Limiting Data Collection to Only Essentials
- Driving Data Ownership Concerns
- Weighing Driver Knowledge vs Privacy
What Driving Data Can Trackers Record?
In addition to basic GPS location, automotive trackers are able to record:
- Vehicle speed – via GPS data points or engine computer connection.
- Rapid acceleration – using internal accelerometers.
- Hard braking incidents – measured by deceleration forces.
- Impact alerts – triggered by abrupt acceleration changes.
- Engine RPM – connected to onboard diagnostics port.
- Check engine codes – pulled from OBD-II computer faults.
- Battery voltage – indicating battery and alternator health.
- Fuel level – through integration with existing fuel sensor.
- Engine run time – for maintenance and idling reports.
Multiple inputs allow extensive monitoring beyond just location.
How Driving Data is Recorded by Trackers?
This driving information is collected through several methods:
- GPS – Successive position fixes indicate speed between points.
- Accelerometers – Measure side/front back g-forces on device.
- OBD-II Ports – Interface with car computers for codes, data.
- Analog Sensors – Fuel float, voltage.
- Digital Sensors -Discrete on/off signals like door open.
- Wireless Interfaces – Bluetooth links to vehicle networks.
Integrating these sensors provides a rich driving profile.
Cloud Storage of Recorded Vehicle Data
Most dedicated tracking units transmit and record this driving data remotely in the cloud for convenience and security:
- Cellular networks rapidly relay sensor information to remote servers.
- Cloud databases archive details like locations, speeds, times.
- Data can be accessed and analyzed through online dashboards.
- Provides backup if vehicle tracker is damaged or disabled.
- Stolen vehicle data aids recovery.
For maximum flexibility, cloud storage is essential.
Uses of Recorded Car Driving Data
What are practical uses of collecting this breadth of data on a vehicle? Recorded details enable:
- Fleet Management – Monitor vehicle speeds, idling, acceleration for efficiency.
- Usage-Based Insurance – Base premiums partially on actual driving data.
- Teen Driver Feedback – Provide summary reports to parents.
- Stolen Vehicle Recovery – Pinpoint location, travel path.
- Accident Analysis – Reconstruct possible causes after a crash.
- Preventative Maintenance – Codes identify issues needing proactive service.
- Fuel Usage Reports – Track MPG, fuel level patterns.
Used responsibly, robust vehicle recordings provide useful insights for multiple applications.
Who Can Access Recorded Car Driving History?
While collected for legitimate purposes, access to a vehicle’s historical driving data raises privacy concerns. Typically access is limited to:
- The registered owner of the vehicle.
- Other authorized family members.
- A parent in the case of a teen’s vehicle.
- Fleet managers for company vehicles.
- Law enforcement with a formal inquiry warrant.
- Diagnostic repair shops when permitted.
- Insurance providers in some cases when the policyholder opts in.
However, be sure to vet tracking providers carefully and confirm their data access policies before installing trackers to capture driving details. Restricting access helps mitigate privacy risks.
Can You Delete Saved Driving Data?
Many tracking platforms make recorded vehicle data available for a set period before automatically deleting it:
- Storage duration ranges from weeks up to several years.
- Driving data is erased on a rolling basis after the retention period.
- Users cannot manually delete individual trips or events.
- Fully deleting your account removes associated vehicle data.
For maximum privacy, use trackers with short automatic deletion cycles and ability to purge your account.
Is Driving Data Identifiable or Anonymous?
How driving data is handled and identified depends on the tracking provider:
- Some platforms log all data under unique vehicle IDs making them fully identifiable.
- Others anonymize data, separating it from vehicle and owner identities.
- Law enforcement access often requires providing identifiable data.
- Aggregate analytics may only utilize anonymized data.
Seek companies using multi-stage data practices to keep personal driving details secure and protected.
Limiting Data Collection to Only Essentials
If you only require basic location tracking, look for units with ability to disable extraneous data recording:
- Configure device to ignore ancillary sensor inputs.
- Skip wiring into OBD-II ports and other vehicle systems.
- Utilize standalone battery-powered GPS units.
- Disable cloud sync and rely on local-only SD card logging.
- Specify needed data only like GPS trails and disable speed, accelerometer etc.
Choose trackers flexibly tailored to your specific needs rather than extensive pre-configured bundles.
Driving Data Ownership Concerns
Who owns the driving data recorded by your vehicle tracker? It varies:
- Installer owns data if you are not the account owner, as with company vehicles.
- Independent subscription providers likely maintain rights to distribute data.
- Automaker remote services retain data ownership for their usage.
- With your own standalone devices, you likely retain full control.
- Law enforcement can access some data without consent if warrants allow.
Seeking maximum control requires being the primary account owner of a third-party tracker lacking conflicting ties.
Weighing Driver Knowledge vs Privacy
Does the benefit of comprehensive driving details outweigh potential privacy concerns? Consider:
- Recorded insights provide valuable feedback for safety and efficiency.
- Parents gain peace of mind monitoring teen drivers.
- False insurance claims for speeding or accidents are disproven.
- Fleet costs are reduced through better driving habits.
- Vehicle diagnostics identify issues needing repair.
But also weigh:
- Potential unauthorized access or distribution.
- Travel details being pieced together violating expectations.
- Driver profiling based on usage patterns.
- Effects on insurance costs long term as data access grows.
Frequent re-evaluation ensures data collection remains balanced to needs.
Today’s vehicle trackers tap numerous sensors to assemble detailed records of how a car is driven – not only where it travels. This data powers useful insights but also risks privacy intrusions if mishandled. Responsibly minimizing collection only to required essentials, anonymizing data where possible, automatically deleting after retention periods, and confirming strong access controls allows drivers to balance the pros and cons of comprehensive car data recording according to their individual preferences and needs.