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GPS in cabs: Are they safe enough?

Published: April 02, 2015 

Following the report of sexual assault by a cab driver in New Delhi, the government has now made it mandatory to have a GPS tracking device in all the cabs plying on roads. This has been done in order to provide a safer travel option for women who have to take cabs for travelling. But are they safe enough to prevent any further mishap?

For a layman a GPS tracking device is the device that communicates directly with the satellite in order to transmit and receive signals about the location of any object. Original idea of the USA’s department of defence,it has been launched and is being successfully used in India and all over the world.In India many companies have launched their GPS tracking devices like GPS Integrated, hi-techpoint, Garmin, mapmyindia etc. Their products aim at precisely locating the vehicle by giving the detailed position according to the latitude and longitude of the place where the vehicle is, recording the distance covered within a specific time, fuel consumption etc.


The vital question is whether mere installation of GPS in taxies is enough to prevent the criminals from succeeding in their heinous crimes? A driver of an infamous cab company on condition of anonymity told the media that GPS devices can be very easily manhandled. The driver of the cab has to just switch off his mobile phone to which the GPS is generally connected in order to hide his position from his company’s control room. That is what the Delhi rape accused precisely did when he committed the crime. Most of the cab companies provide their drivers with a GPS device connected to a smartphone which is in turn connected to the control room of the company. The company monitors the actual location of the driver and the time he spends at a particular place (the minutes they charge as waiting time). In a recent survey many of the cab drivers have confessed to switching off their smartphone near their home or when they want to spend their time somewhere else as the cab companies won’t pay them their due if they take the taxi to any other place than that is allotted to them. This clearly shows that it is very easy for a driver to escape the prying eyes of his company by simply switching off their mobiles.

Union Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh has also asked all the states to ban the unregistered cab services across the country.

The cab companies need to take some stern steps in order to avoid such disastrous situations. Mere smartphone connected GPS devices won’t be enough. They need to install some hi-tech devices which don’t let the user escape the eyes of the controlling authority. This type of devices is being used in the USA, Europe and Russia, where camera, GPS devices and an alarm system are installed in a vehicle. The person has the complete information about the driver along with his photograph which he can share with his trusted people. The traveller also has an access to an inbuilt alarm that can be pressed in case of any emergency in order to attract the attention of other people nearby. Following the delhi rape case, the government has also made it mandatory for the cab companies to share the information of the driver with the customer prior to the commencement of the journey.

Some Indian companies also claim to have developed such devices which do not allow the driver to cross the prescribed area or over speed and allows the owner to contact the driver without the need of a mobile phone. Some devices even promise to immobilize the engine in case of theft(blackbox, a vehicle tracker by hi-techpoint claims this.) such devices might prove to be helpful in atleast intimidating the driver against the crimes. The owner or the company would be able to monitor and control the actions.

A GPS device usually checks if the vehicle is plying on the route planned for it or not. As soon as the vehicle deviates from the mapped position, it should be immediately taken into consideration and swift actions should be taken to avoid any unpleasant situation.

Sources: The Hindu, BBC News, HT

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