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What are Passive GPS Trackers?

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/7/2011

Passive GPS trackers allow you to track the exact path of your vehicle. But, why is this necessary? And, is a passive GPS tracker for you? Learn more here.

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    Passive GPS Tracker Definition

    A passive GPS tracker is a type of car GPS system, except that you won’t get turn by turn directions with this model. Instead, this system is designed to record information about the vehicle, including where it is currently located and the route it took to get to this location. But, you may be asking why do you need a passive GPS tracker? Well, you can use this system for multiple purposes.

    Passive GPS trackers are designed to record information. So, they actually mimic data recorders in that they record information about the route taken, speed of the vehicle and the time of the trip. This basically gives a record of everything that was done during the trip in respect to the vehicle itself.

    This is handy if you want to track someone without physically tracking them. But, you should never put passive GPS trackers in vehicles unless you have permission from the owner. It is illegal to track someone without their knowledge. It is, however, perfectly legal to track your own vehicle, including fleet vehicles.

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    Passive GPS Tracker Uses

    Now that you know what a passive GPS unit is, it’s time to go over its uses. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, fleet owners can find these devices very useful. For example, if you suspect that one of your drivers is taking a longer route than he is supposed to, or stopping somewhere that he shouldn’t be, you can actually pull this information up on your GPS tracker. You can also use this device to find a vehicle that has been stolen, and give the police the exact route that the thief took.

    If you are a parent, you can also use this device to determine whether or not your teenager is going over the speed limit since the device tracks vehicle speeds. Other uses for this device include that you can keep track of the route that you took during a trip, or law enforcement officials can use these devices to track where a criminal has gone.

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    Downloading Data for Your GPS Unit

    Most passive GPS units allow you to download the data from the system onto your computer, and most do this via a USB cable. This cable plugs in to the USB port on your computer, but you may need drivers and/or software installed on your computer before you can download this data.

    Some devices even allow you to pull up the vehicle’s route on Google Earth. On Google Earth, you can actually zoom into the Street View and follow the exact path of the vehicle. This path is usually highlighted in purple or yellow.

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    Buying a Passive GPS Tracker

    When looking to buy a passive GPS tracker, ensure that it has a good battery life, or get one that you can plug into the lighter outlet on your vehicle. Make sure that the information is also accurate. You may want to try one out first to determine if it accurately logged your route. Then, get one that comes with software to convert the log data into reports.