TomTom is watching you speed

Have you ever wondered if GPS companies clock your speed as you fly down the highway? Many GPS devices these days tell you how fast you're going based on calculations made by the satellites they link up with. This means that someone, somewhere, if they wanted to, could see how fast you're going. In the future, could this result in getting a ticket? It's unlikely, unless police start working directly with GPS manufacturers.

The bottom line is, GPS companies, like TomTom, know how fast you're going. Thankfully though, they're not really interested in you personally, but rather, people as a whole. To them, aggregating data to figure out driving habits, is what they do to help better their software and overall navigation experience.

TomTom has released some of the numbers that they've gathered, and the results may surprise you. According to their article, titled "U.S. Drivers Not The Speed Demons You May Think." TomTom gives average speeds of drivers around the country. Here are their findings in a nutshell:

"Even drivers in the fastest states tend to stay within the speed limit range."

  • Mississippi average is just over 70 MPH (speed limits are 65-70 MPH)
  • New Mexico average is 70 MPH (speed limits are 70-70 MPH)
  • Idaho average is 70 MPH (speed limits are 65-75 MPH)
  • Utah average is 70 MPH (speed limits are 65-75 MPH)
  • Alabama average is 70 MPH (speed limits are 60-70 MPH)

On Germany's Autobahn, which is a road network where no speed limit is enforced, drivers typically travel over 100 MPH. In comparrison, America's fastest road, I-15, sees speeds of 77.67 MPH, with some areas hitting 80 MPH. The average speed limit posted on that highway is 70 MPH. It was also noted that the average speed in the middle part of the US (where the fastest highways are located) exceeded 67 MPH, yet the average posted speed limit is 70. Washington D.C. was crowned the slowest state, averaging just 46 MPH (due to high congestion).

The findings are interesting, to say the least. Overall, TomTom found that "Data from GPS users show drivers stay within speed limit range on most major U.S. highways; the fastest highway, "America’s Autobahn," is on I-15 in Utah and Nevada, while the slowest road is in Washington D.C."

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"On Germany's Autobahn, which is a road network where no speed limit is enforced, drivers typically travel over 100 MPH"

If you ever drove in Germany, you know this isn't entirely true (at least to the point where you make it sound like there is no speed limit at all on the highways).
Whilst it is true that in general there is no speed limit, there are speed limits whenever there are roadworks, intersections, etc... on the "Autobahn". In these areas the limit is usually around 130km/hm, and there are many many of these. Don't kid yourself into thinking that you can drive from one town to the other with no speed limits in between.

I'd be less worried about a speeding ticket here in the US, and more with the Insurance companies using accurate speed info, along with GPS data, after a crash to get out of paying claims.

To quote Wikipedia...

"A traffic monitoring service that uses multiple sources to provide traffic information. The service does this by combining data from:

* traditional sources: Governmental/third party data such as induction loops in the roads, cameras and traffic surveillance
* new sources: traffic flow of 16.7 million anonymous mobile phone users

The information is merged by TomTom and algorithms are used to improve the data and filter out anomalous readings. The system sends updates to all HD Traffic users every three minutes. Users can receive the service through a connected navigation device, or through a specially designed antenna."
=================
So TomTom traffic information is NOT based on SatNav devices, but on MOBILE PHONE triangulation, and clever algo's, which is then broadcast on the FM radio network to subscripers of "TomTom Plus". My feeling is that they rely more on the roadside sensors, and traditional reporting!

So now we know why the law is happy for people to use mobile phone car kits. It provides enormous amounts of useful data regarding travel statistics.

This post is rubbish. GPS's have a one way communication with satellites. The later versions have subscription services for additional traffic information, but again I am not convinced that these systems use two way communication, instead they rely on roadside sensors monitoring the flow of traffic (ON MAJOR ROUTES). I would happily be corrected on this, if there is anyone here WHO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

As for speedo's, manufacturers all build in a 10% over reading, to allow for tyre wear / wheel diameter. From experience, most speedo's (even old ones) are pretty accurate when the +10% is factored in. The BS on this thread is astounding!

Hmm, I don't like the idea of being tracked and yes, I do know this is 2010 and some foil won't stop them from tracking me.

The 'Autobahn has no speed limit' quote is inaccurate. There are sections where there is no effective speed limit but ever increasingly long sections do. The key thing therefore for a driver on the Autobahn is how fast you can get from (the usual) 70mph limit to 100mph+ !

I don't see how this is an issue at all. My GPS has no data of mine installed into the device. So yes a satelite might be able to see 'im' speeding, but that's all it knows. It cannot pinpoint my car, exact color, shape etc.

So it cannot record my registration plate etc, so I'm not bothered.

I guess I'm different (and older)...I actually use my GPS to keep an eye on my speed when I'm not using the cruise control. The older I get, the slower I drive, although, if an open stretch of interstate comes along, and the right tune hits the sat radio, I've been known to cut loose the Mustang once in a while, but for the most part, I stay within 8 mph of the limit.

Don't kid yourself. Most governments are tied directly into all data networks, here in the U.S. the N.S.A. tied directly into internet backbones (Google AT&T NSA "rooms"), denied it, got caught, then had to admit it in the name of "safety". Law Enforcement can access any system when they deem it "necessary" and you and I don't get official acknowledgment until AFTER it's too late to complain if at all.
It's not used so much to give you tickets (yet) as it is for investigations and surveillance. Just watch any of the stupid CSI type cop shows and you get an idea of the capability, just without the ridiculously cool graphics I'm sure ;-)

I can't see how they can record your speed. A GPS doesn't transmit back unless TomTom is illegally taking that info off your GPS when you hook it up to the internet.

They have absolutely no excuse whatsoever to gather that data. There is also no excuse to have the GPS save that data.

If they ever did give this to law enforcement, it would totally destroy their own business. No one would ever buy it.

Also because some sat navs have speed camera locations on journey time decreases as you can speed between them :d, all ya got do is watch out for the coppers

psionicinversion said,
Also because some sat navs have speed camera locations on journey time decreases as you can speed between them :d, all ya got do is watch out for the coppers

Haha yes exactly. We god these damn undercover police cars these days, police driving in civilian cars with what I would say, have a darker tint than most cars. Shame really.

"Many GPS devices these days tell you how fast you're going based on calculations made by the satellites they link up with."
The GPS device makes these calculations, not the satellites. And a consumer GPS device doesn't link up with the GPS satellites, it just receives data from them. This data collection is probably made through the internet (through mobile networks), not the military GPS satellites.

So if you don't want your GPS receiver to send data about your speed, don't connect it to the internet.

Oh I would be screwed! My GPS says I did a few hundred MPH once...in my Cavalier.... so you can't say they are 100% reliable :P I'll try to remember to take a pic of it

spikey_richie said,
Using Frixo or the Highways agency site, you can view the average speed of any motorway in the UK.

Just looked at Frixo, looks good for traffic info - thanks (I usually use the Highways Agency site)

Tony. said,
So basically what your trying to tell us is that, if your planning on speeding, turn your SatNav off? :P

God I hope not. It's the only way really to find where exactly to slow down before the cameras. I like to drive fast.

Tony. said,
So basically what your trying to tell us is that, if your planning on speeding, turn your SatNav off? :P

There are some speed cameras in some states that they are watching your speed. No matter if you have GPS on or off.

my company does this. they track the company van drivers if to see if they go over 65. if they do, they suspend their license.

I'd actually prefer it if they tracked individuals. Especially, if they compare average speed for most drivers against your own speed. If you're less, you should get a large insurance break. If more, jack them up.

I used to be a speed demon until I got hit with a $150 ticket for going 85 in a 65. All it takes is a big ass fine and I now always stick within 10 mph of the limit. Not to mention the increased fuel efficiency.

Greenstein said,
Posted speed limits on I-80 in most parts of Nebraska is 75mph.

I remember that the posted speed limit in Colorado is 85 MPH back in '96. I don't know about now. It was on very straight hwy. I was on my way to Utah for Final Four. I was like "Wow, I wish I live here!" when I saw that posted speed limit. lol

I doubt this is real time information, more likely "google style spying" where you click the "send anonymous usage reports to tomtom" and tomtom get the information when you connect your device to the internet for an update.

pretty scary "big brother" stuff.

Its why I never allow "anonymous usage" stats or "help make my experience better" options to stay enabled when I install software.

spikey_richie said,
My satellite navigation system doesn't know my vehicle registration, so there's no chance a ticket will ever come from this.

No GPS systems require vehicle registration or any way to link a single GPS unit with a particular person/vehicle. At least this is the case in the US.

Edited by Xilo, Jan 25 2010, 8:51pm :

spikey_richie said,
My satellite navigation system doesn't know my vehicle registration, so there's no chance a ticket will ever come from this.

True, but that doesn't mean that a GPS company can't tip off the police of potential speeders at specific locations. It could happen one day (but I hope not).

Benjamin Rubenstein said,

True, but that doesn't mean that a GPS company can't tip off the police of potential speeders at specific locations. It could happen one day (but I hope not).

But by the time the police get there, I'lll be long gone...

Edited by spikey_richie, Jan 25 2010, 10:01pm :

spikey_richie said,
My satellite navigation system doesn't know my vehicle registration, so there's no chance a ticket will ever come from this.

No matter you have GPS on or off, there are speed cameras in some states that they are watching your speed.

shozilla said,

No matter you have GPS on or off, there are speed cameras in some states that they are watching your speed.

sorry say again??

The fact that they even record and collect this information makes me sick. Glad I never bought one of their devices... and now never will.

necrosis said,
The fact that they even record and collect this information makes me sick. Glad I never bought one of their devices... and now never will.

And what exactly is wrong with them collating this information - it can't be used to identify individuals (which if you've read the article, you already know).

I'm afraid I'll have to break it to you: you're a statistic whatever you do - every time you go grocery shopping, buy petrol, use the Internet to tell everyone you think it's a disgrace sat navs track us for statistics - you're becoming part of somebody's statistics for something.

This data is used for TomTom's IQ Routes. Basically will try and find the fastest route not just by posted speeds but other users actual reported speed when they drove the roads. Think it's quite clever myself.

necrosis said,
The fact that they even record and collect this information makes me sick. Glad I never bought one of their devices... and now never will.

Ha ha, why not?
I don't use them and probably never will. I have no need for one until I get into the city/town centre, but I usually guess my way.
However, your post is a little strange as the above poster has said, they don't really care about YOU as a person and when they do, watch their usage drop like a stone from an airplane.

Mr Spoon said,
It would be interesting to see what the UK averages are.
I suspect they are higher than the limit.

I don't think they'd be much over the limit - for example, I can hit the M20 at the weekend and do over 70 all the way, but during the week to and from work, my average speed is between 20-25mph for the journey because of traffic - so that affects my average. I'd guess this is the same for most people - at some point you get held up in traffic and the average drops very quickly.

Edited by stereopixels, Jan 26 2010, 8:19pm : Added quote

wow,that low... in the uk despite motorway limits it's rare to not have someone doing 90mph+ in view at any given time. From what I've seen as a passenger driving into London a couple of times if you aren't doing 90 you're disrupting the other traffic.

I would assume that this is just those units that can connect to the Internet and download extras like traffic info and petrol prices etc as the non-connected units don't actually send back anything? Unless it stores it for when you connect to your computer?

Are these just for major roads? For example the motorway is 70MPH but residential roads in the UK are 40 or below. If that is an average for all roads then it is in fact high.

McDave said,
Are these just for major roads? For example the motorway is 70MPH but residential roads in the UK are 40 or below. If that is an average for all roads then it is in fact high.

Residential roads are also very rarely 40 typically they are only 30mph in the UK. Anything above 30 in a "residential area" would be a main "through road", with few drives and roads entrances directly onto that road.

McDave said,
Are these just for major roads? For example the motorway is 70MPH but residential roads in the UK are 40 or below. If that is an average for all roads then it is in fact high.

Yeah, people are more likely to go significantly lower than 70 than people who go significantly higher, so it seems that the majority actually drive at over the speed limit.

Edited by Minimoose, Jan 25 2010, 9:54pm :

ccoltmanm said,
Come to Chicago, besides traffic (Which lowers the average speed) people are giong 70 when the speed limit is 55.

So many bad memories of traffic jams on I-88.

Are the reported speeds even accurate? There's generally a 5mph difference between the speed reported on my GPS and the car's speedometer.

Xilo said,
Are the reported speeds even accurate? There's generally a 5mph difference between the speed reported on my GPS and the car's speedometer.

I've heard that pretty much all cars sold in the US show a speed about 5mph faster than the car is actually traveling, so I would think the GPS speed is more realistic (depending on how quickly the chipset updates at any rate)

Xilo said,
Are the reported speeds even accurate? There's generally a 5mph difference between the speed reported on my GPS and the car's speedometer.

Your GPS will be more accurate. Analogue speedometers aren't very precise.

Edited by Examinus, Jan 25 2010, 8:30pm :

As soon as you change the tires on your car to anything other than the exact size it came with, you throw off your speedometer. Even if it still has the stock tires, it's likely that the speedo is a few MPH off. That's likely one reason that most cops won't bother with you unless you are going a significant amount over the posted limit.

BigBoobLover said,
As soon as you change the tires on your car to anything other than the exact size it came with, you throw off your speedometer. Even if it still has the stock tires, it's likely that the speedo is a few MPH off. That's likely one reason that most cops won't bother with you unless you are going a significant amount over the posted limit.

I think the tolerance is +/- 10% so 44mph in a 40mph zone is borderline.

spikey_richie said,

I think the tolerance is +/- 10% so 44mph in a 40mph zone is borderline.

The tolerance in the UK is 10% + 1mph, so this would be 45mph, 56mph etc.

I did hear somewhere that the speedo manufacturers had to make them "over-report" the actual speed. Dunno if that is true or not.

Pete

vaximily said,

I've heard that pretty much all cars sold in the US show a speed about 5mph faster than the car is actually traveling, so I would think the GPS speed is more realistic (depending on how quickly the chipset updates at any rate)

That's not true at all.

PeteWhite said,

The tolerance in the UK is 10% + 1mph, so this would be 45mph, 56mph etc.

I did hear somewhere that the speedo manufacturers had to make them "over-report" the actual speed. Dunno if that is true or not.

Pete

actuality , they have to error on the side of over reporting. Under reporting results in fines, over reporting is where the margin of error is allowed.

PeteWhite said,

The tolerance in the UK is 10% + 1mph, so this would be 45mph, 56mph etc.
I did hear somewhere that the speedo manufacturers had to make them "over-report" the actual speed. Dunno if that is true or not.

I have been past speed camera's 7/8 mph over and not been flashed. However, my old Ford Focus's speedo was out by about 5mph. I unlocked the LCD and had a digital as well as needle version. The digital one was always about 5mph less than the needle said.

In domestic cars, the speedometer tends to be more accurate. In my experience, Ford, Toyota and Pontiac were the most accurate. BMWs and Audis tended to be about 5 MPH too high.

There exists a nice article somewhere where in it it explained why that was the case. Something that dealt with low profile tries and the wearing of tread.

The GPS will always be the most accurate.

Edited by ObiWanToby, Jan 26 2010, 1:36am :

Xilo said,
Are the reported speeds even accurate? There's generally a 5mph difference between the speed reported on my GPS and the car's speedometer.

I would pick the GPS over your speedometer.