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“Big Brother” – GPS Log Book

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Most of us would agree that cars have never been safer.

Anti-lock brakes, stability control, air bags and crumple zones are saving lives every day of the year.

They are pieces of technology that don’t require driver intervention, and that’s what makes them an essential piece of kit.

While I’ve always been a fan of gadgets, I’m increasingly concerned about the distraction that some of them pose when people are driving, with mobile phones being at the very top of my list.

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen driving towards me who aren’t looking ahead at where they are going.

They all seem to be staring at their laps, and I’d wager that somewhere within view there is a smartphone involved.

Even more perturbing is the scene when I glance up in my rear-view mirror to see a driver staring down at their crotch.

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen who’ve been injured when struck from behind by a driver distracted by their phone.

I know that the police routinely check the driver’s mobile call history whenever they investigate any serious crash.

But there are great bits of technology that go about their work in the background and will never distract the driver.

One that I’m very impressed with is the GPS log book device.

It simply plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and uses global positioning to record a database of all the information related to where the vehicle has gone.

Within that data is the maximum speed of the vehicle on the trip, which might be handy for transport companies who don’t want their drivers to exceed any speed limits.

It also is a useful way for learner drivers to keep their log book.

Stalkers will probably have a field day with this device, and it might be useful for spousal surveillance or keeping an eye on the movements of teenagers.

But the most likely use of this technology is for producing an Australian Taxation Office-compliant log book of business-related travel.

The GPS device keeps track of where every trip started and stopped and, via Google maps, will also show which route was taken.

Once the data is downloaded via USB to a computer, each journey can be coded as either personal (such as to or from work) or business-related (like travel between surgeries, home visits, on-call and so on).

At the end of three months the software compiles the business travel percentage as a function of the total distance travelled.

A colleague has extensively evaluated the device, and so far the only glitch has been that it may not record the exact start location for a minute, as it takes the device a short time to sync with enough satellites to work out where it is once the ignition is turned on.

This did mean that in his log book his trips sometimes started from an address just down the road from where he lives.

Overall, I think that the GPS log book will save doctors a lot of time and effort compared with the paper-based approach, and at $149, plus postage, it’s a tax-deductible bargain.

Anyone interested can check it out at www.gpslogbook.com.au.

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser

PS The device is only $109 plus postage if ordered via your accountant.