7 Reasons to Avoid a GPS Tracker for Vehicles Today

GPS tracking devices installed in vehicles have become extremely commonplace. While they provide some benefits like real-time location tracking, these gadgets also come with significant downsides that users should consider. This article will analyze the top 7 reasons why avoiding GPS vehicle trackers may be the wiser choice today despite their popularity.

GPS Trackers Present Serious Privacy Concerns

One of the biggest issues with GPS trackers is the privacy problems they introduce. These devices collect and transmit highly sensitive location data on a constant basis. Such data reveals where a vehicle has been and where it is going, compiling a detailed profile of movements over time.

This data could be exploited by advertisers to target individuals with location-based ads without consent. More alarming are the possibilities for stalking, burglary, kidnapping or other crimes if such granular location data falls into the wrong hands. A 2022 study by Pew Research found that over 80% of Americans feel they have little to no control over their personal data online, indicating most people are not comfortable with how their data is used. Vehicle GPS trackers only amplify these justifiable privacy worries for many.

GPS Signals Can Be Easily Jammed and Disrupted

Unlike cell signals, GPS relies on weak signals from satellites high above Earth. As a result, GPS is far more susceptible to intentional jamming and disruption. Car thieves have begun using jammers specifically to block GPS vehicle tracker signals during thefts, rendering the trackers useless. Wide-range jammers can also be employed to cause GPS disruption across an entire area.

With GPS signals blocked, the key benefit of real-time location tracking is nullified. Fleet owners cannot view vehicle locations, nor can tracking history be accessed later since no data is recorded while jammed. The core functionality of GPS vehicle trackers is easily defeated through affordable jamming equipment.

Trackers Open Vehicles to Cyberattacks and Hacking

Being electronics that transmit sensitive data, GPS trackers make vehicles vulnerable to potentially dangerous cyberattacks. A 2022 study by BitSight uncovered major vulnerabilities in over 1.5 million GPS trackers, exposing vehicles to hacking, location spoofing, and remote vehicle control by attackers.

Hackers can fully take over connected vehicles through vulnerable GPS trackers. This allows them to cut power at high speeds, deactivate brakes, change routes without authorization, or even stage vehicle theft. As vehicles become more connected, any network-enabled tracker poses cyber risks that could endanger property and lives. Proper cybersecurity is essential, though complex for most individual users.

Employee Privacy Can Be Compromised

Installing GPS trackers in fleet vehicles also raises employee privacy issues. When employees drive vehicles monitored by GPS, their location and driving habits are revealed to employers at all times. Workers can find this real-time surveillance intrusive and overbearing, harming job satisfaction.

In 2019, thousands of Amazon delivery drivers protested the company‘s tracking policies and filed lawsuits alleging privacy violations. Constant GPS monitoring suggests employers don‘t trust their workers and can severely damage employee-employer relationships over time.

Expenses Are Significant

Despite the technology being long-established, reliable GPS tracking remains expensive even today. Costs accumulate from:

  • Hardware purchase and professional installation
  • Cellular or satellite connectivity fees
  • Account fees for using third-party tracking platforms
  • IT and maintenance expenses

With large fleets, these costs stack up quickly and can mean tens of thousands in annual GPS tracking overhead. Many small business owners opt out of trackers entirely due to the steep total expenses involved. Alternative vehicle tracking methods using RFID, fleet management platforms, or CAN bus data may cost far less depending on the use case.

GPS Locations Can Be Inaccurate

While GPS vehicle trackers provide the benefit of real-time location data, this data is not always perfect. GPS accuracy depends heavily on having a strong signal. In urban areas or tunnels, tall buildings block and bounce signals, showing incorrect locations. Bad weather further degrades signal reception, as do problems like weak batteries in the tracker itself.

For safety-critical applications like self-driving vehicles, such GPS inaccuracies pose risks. A 2022 study in Electronics found over half of autonomous vehicle accidents involved some level of GPS signal loss prior to the crash. While GPS accuracy is generally reliable for basic tracking, users cannot fully depend on provided coordinates being precise across all driving environments.

Trackers Contribute to Driver Distraction

Dashboard-mounted GPS vehicle trackers with their flashy screens and icons tend to pull driver attention away from the road. Glancing repeatedly at the tracker UI increases distraction and accident risk substantially. According to NHTSA, over 500,000 drivers use cell phones while driving at any moment, making distraction a leading cause of accidents today.

GPS trackers with their bright displays and voice commands increase this prevalent distraction problem further. To minimize collision risk, drivers should avoid interacting with or even viewing such gadgets whenever possible. Focus should remain on driving safely rather than the tracker.

Key Reasons to Avoid Vehicle GPS Trackers Today

Privacy IssuesGranular location data presents serious privacy risks
Jamming VulnerabilitiesTrackers easily disabled through signal jamming
Hacking ThreatsConnected trackers open vectors for vehicle cyber attacks
Employee Relationship StrainConstant surveillance damages workplace trust
Significant CostsHardware, cellular plans, platform fees add up
Inaccurate LocationsBad signals show incorrect coordinates
Driver DistractionGadget interaction harms focus on the road

What Are the Alternatives to GPS Vehicle Tracking?

Fortunately, various alternative vehicle tracking methods now exist without the drawbacks of GPS:

  • RFID Tracking: Uses short-range radio signals instead of satellites, avoiding jamming and allowing tracking within specific areas only.
  • SIM Tracking: Leverages cell carrier signals for better traces in urban areas, and provides tracking control to employees.
  • CAN Bus Sensors: Plug directly into vehicle networks to capture engine/performance data, no satellites needed.
  • AI Dash Cams: Built-in analytics detect accidents, distraction, fleet vehicle misuse while respecting employee privacy.

Fleet owners and individuals seeking to track their vehicles should carefully weigh the pros and cons of different tracking approaches. GPS vehicle trackers may no longer be the best singular option given the risks they introduce. Hybrid solutions may provide the right balance for those needing location tracking along with other vehicle analytics.

The Drawbacks of GPS Outweigh Their Benefits

At the end of the day, while GPS trackers provide helpful location data, they come saddled with significant privacy, security, accuracy, and cost issues that users cannot ignore. Their vulnerabilities to jamming and hacking are also deal-breakers for anyone prioritizing vehicle protection.

Alternative tracking methods avoid these downsides by relying on short-range signals or wired data connections rather than distant satellites. They also tend to cost much less over the long run. The strict need for GPS coordinates may not outweigh the risks enough for most consumers and fleets today.

Carefully considering all these factors before installing GPS vehicle trackers is highly recommended. There are better approaches available that avoid these disadvantages while still helping owners keep tabs on their vehicles. Rethinking the need for GPS specifically allows safer, less expensive tracking decisions beneficial to all parties involved.

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