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Drive Safely!For the last several years, one prominent car insurance firm has used a tracking device to help set rates, and other companies may follow suit.

Although the cheerful spokesperson tries to frame the Snapshot as a totally benign technology, the device actually tracks three different driving habits: number of miles driven, the times of day the customer drives and the number of "hard" brakes. Motorists who drive more than 15,000 miles per year, drive between midnight and 4:00 A.M. and have a significant number of hard brakes are considered high risk, and their rates are adjusted accordingly.

For now, the company only offers discounts through the Snapshot program, and does not raise rates based on the results.

Inspired by things like the Snapshot, a Tennessee company has developed a high-tech system that combines a radar gun with photo enforcement technology. Applied Technology Partner's Velocity Snap System is a combination LIDAR device, high-resolution camera and mobile recorder. The officer aims the radar beam at a car, and the in-device camera records what he sees. If the car is speeding, the driver receives a citation in the mail, much like a photo enforcement camera.

The device allows officers to bypass a 20-minute traffic stop, so they can theoretically write more tickets in a day. And, if there is a hearing, there is an officer who can give testimony in court.

Look for even more advanced devices in the near future, as police departments seek to increase revenue by writing a greater number of speeding tickets in Bakersfield.

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