For many small business owners, having a vehicle (or even a fleet of vehicles) is part of their daily operations. Whether it’s delivery or service trucks, company cars, or something else entirely, a vehicle is a powerful (and expensive) asset to have.
Many small business owners are on tight budgets, too — which makes it all the more important to keep expensive assets like cars safe. Statistics have shown car thefts have skyrocketed in 2020, and things may get worse before they get better.
Fortunately, while thieves have grown more sophisticated, so too have vehicle security systems — and making room in the budget for some security upgrades, you could end up saving far more money than you spend in the long run.
Technology That Helps Keep Cars Safe
Here are some of the more common technologies and services that are helping provide better security for car owners and businesses. You may already be familiar with some of them:
- OnStar. OnStar is perhaps one of the best-known vehicle services. OnStar works through a cellular network operated 24 hours a day, which can be accessed with the push of a button. Service operators can help with everything from getting lost on the road to serious emergencies and accidents. Most relevant of all its features is its ability to track stolen cars via GPS and even block the ignition of equipped vehicles and / or slow them down during pursuits.
- LoJack. LoJack is another well-known brand, with an even longer history than OnStar. The primary function of LoJack is to use radio tracking to help recover stolen vehicles, through a small transceiver hidden somewhere inside the car. Because it uses different technology than GPS, a LoJack can remain useful where some GPS tracking systems might fail.
- CarShield. CarShield is somewhat akin to the previous two services, but for older cars (1996 and later) that might not have the same capabilities more modern ones do. CarShield plugs into the diagnostics port of a vehicle and provides data through a cellular network that can detect problems like battery and heat level, oil pressure, and so on.
- Steering wheel and tire locks. As opposed to subscription services and high-tech solutions, there are some more basic and accessible, though they can be just as effective. A steering wheel lock (such as The Club) is a highly visible product that secures the vehicle’s steering in place, both providing a visual deterrent to car thieves, and providing some simple but potent security. Tire and rim locks perform a similar function — basically like “the boot” some unfortunate parking violators may already have encountered. They lock onto the outside of a car’s tire and prevent it from moving.
- Car alarms & GPS. Two classic technologies that have been in place for decades: the humble car alarm and the GPS tracker. While the former has been a staple of car owners for decades, GPS is becoming ever more standard as vehicles grow more technologically sophisticated.
- Kill switches. Another increasingly common tech that’s reducing car theft statistics: remote kill switches, which can slow, stop, or entirely shut off the car from a remote location, making it difficult or impossible for thieves to go any further if they’ve managed to successfully steal a vehicle.
Not only are some of these solutions very cost-effective, but vehicle owners may be able to get lower rates on their car insurance by installing one or more of them on their vehicle.
The Future of Vehicle Security
While there are plenty of options right now for business owners looking to keep their assets safe, the future of vehicle security carries even more promise.
Eye scanning technology, for example, is poised to make vehicles much safer from theft in the near future. The security tech company EyeLock is developing a device that will scan a user’s iris as they approach the vehicle, and refuse to start for anyone who doesn’t match the scan, including infrared cameras mounted in the visor or dashboard that, according to the company’s claims, make car theft “nearly impossible.”
There are also some considerable concerns and challenges that must be met going forward as cars and car security systems grow more sophisticated. For example, as cars grow more connected via the IoT (Internet of Things), there are increased cybersecurity risks, as a vehicle might literally be “hacked” and its controls tampered with, disbled, or taken over by a malicious third party.
This is of particular concern when it comes to self-driving cars in particular, who are entirely dependent on advanced connectivity technology to operate at all. As self-driving cars become more mainstream and even may become the standard, eventually outnumbering or even replacing traditional cars on the road, security both of the physical vehicle and its governing software will become of paramount importance.