Being able to immobilise a vehicle remotely is useful if it’s been stolen. It can prevent the total loss of the vehicle and (potentially) and expensive equipment or goods it is carrying and prevents it from being used in any other crimes such as ram-raiding. The immobilisers are relatively inexpensive and the GPS technology that tracks the vehicle can provide benefits with vehicle monitoring.
GPS immobilisation should not be used while an employee is driving the vehicle. It should only be used if the vehicle has been stolen and is immobile or if police advise that it should be immobilised while moving to prevent a larger issue occurring.
GPS immobilisation can work in a number of ways (fuel pump, starter motor or ignition) but the safest is to cut the starter motor rather than cut power to the engine. While this does mean that the vehicle won’t be completely immobilised until it is turned off, immobilising the vehicle while it is moving is potentially dangerous:
- If it is activated as the vehicle is pulling out of an intersection it could leave it stranded in the face of oncoming traffic that may not be able to stop in time
- If it’s activated while the vehicle is travelling at high speed, power might be cut to the brakes and power steering, rendering the vehicle uncontrollable and causing a major accident
- If it’s activated in a remote location while a legitimate employee is driving, that employee may not be suitably equipped for the walk to the nearest sign of civilisation
- If it’s activated and the vehicle is carrying goods which cannot be carried by the driver they will be left in the vehicle, potentially exposing them to opportunist thieves.
If a person activates it and it causes injury or death they might be prosecuted under health and safety or transport legislation. If a person dies as a result of it, a manslaughter charge could be levied.