The digital age has been the gate way to new and innovative ideas; it is an age where you can tell your home DVR to record shows from your smart phone and track your children via the internet. Heck, a parent today can even get text message alerts to tell them when their child leaves a certain area. As technology becomes more capable and more inexpensive, we start to see it pop up in the automotive industry as well. One of those technologies is the GPS unit and now one GPS provider is capturing your speed data.

TomTom in a press release last week revealed what they are calling “the first fully detailed view of which interstate highways are the fastest and slowest in the United States.” TomTom has compiled their Speed Profiles™ to help provide the fastest route information to their customers. Before some freaks out that they might tell the local county mountie, TomTom assures their customers that the data is keep anonymous. However, it does give us pause with respect to privacy and the thought of being watched over at all times.

It also begs the question, will this type of technology some day be used to enforce speed limits across the country. Some times we let technology take the lead in trying to create outstanding citizens, but when is it too much? Today we have cars that will park themselves, tell parents when their child exceeds a certain speed or mileage, slow the car down while on cruise control. It seems that before long we will loose the sense of personal responsibility. Of course, some of this type of information isn’t bad. We are starting to see people fighting things like speeding tickets based on GPS monitoring systems—mostly in the cases of teenagers. That could be a double-edged sword though; normally if you are going to let the information be used in defense, it will also be used in prosecution.

The thing to remember is, if you aren’t breaking a law, you don’t have to worry and according to TomTom most of the United States drives at or close to the posted speed limit on average. So really there isn’t any harm in a company or the police knowing the information. The thing that is harder to swallow is the sense that you could be caught for the slightest instance of breaking a rule. This is also a perfect example of a company trying to do something good and provide information to their customers, while at the same time opening up a new frontier of information gathering and usage that has the potential to be less helpful.

Be sure to check out the full press release below and let us know what you think of historical speed data records and technology being used in this type of way.


Press Release:

Concord, MA – January 21, 2010 – TomTom, the world’s leading provider of navigation solutions and digital maps, today revealed the first fully detailed view of which interstate highways are the fastest and slowest in the United States. Although the average speed on some U.S. roads slightly exceeded the speed limit, data from GPS users show that, overall, drivers tend to stay within speed limit range on most major U.S. highways.

The results were calculated using data from Speed Profiles™, the historical speed database from TomTom’s map business unit Tele Atlas that helps personal and professional fleet drivers find the best routes. Speed Profiles is integrated as IQ Routes™ on TomTom devices. It aggregates, anonymously, the actual speeds that millions of GPS-enabled drivers have traveled over the last two years to provide the most accurate view of historic speeds available.

Data were organized to show the average speeds on interstate highways and to reflect only free flow speed data, or average speeds when there is no traffic present. When compared to a database of posted speed limits, the results indicate that the average U.S. driver stays within the speed limit range on most urban and rural interstate highways:

* Even drivers in the fastest states tend to stay within the speed limit range. Across all interstate highways, Mississippi has the fastest roads, with average speeds of just over 70 MPH and posted speed limits ranging from 65-70 MPH. New Mexico (70 MPH actual average, 70-75 MPH posted speed limits), Idaho (70 MPH actual average, 65-75 MPH posted speed limits), Utah (70 MPH actual average, 65-75 MPH posted speed limits) and Alabama (70 MPH actual average, 60-70 MPH posted speed limits), round out the top five states with the fastest interstates in the country;

* Famous worldwide as a road network where drivers can go as fast as they like, Germany’s Autobahn has speed limits in some areas, but drivers typically travel over 100 MPH in unregulated spots. Where is America’s Autobahn? Our fastest road is on I-15 in Utah and Nevada, with speeds averaging 77.67 MPH, although some spots on that highway allow 80 MPH;

* The nation’s fastest area is in the middle part of the country. Seven of the top 15 states with the fastest highways are in that area. The average speeds on roads in Mississippi, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Idaho, Alabama and Missouri exceed 67 MPH; the average posted speed limits in those states is 70 MPH;

* Speeds on single interstate highways that span a number of states, such as the I-95 route running from Northern Maine to Southern Florida, differ dramatically depending on where you are. Along that highway, the fastest section is in South Carolina; the slowest sections are in Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

* Findings for the Washington D.C. area echo results found in TomTom’s recent study of the most congested traffic spots in the U.S. (see Washington D.C. has the slowest average MPH on its interstate highways, at 46 MPH. After Washington D.C., the states with the slowest interstate average MPH are: Hawaii (53 MPH); Delaware (61 MPH); Rhode Island (63 MPH); and Oregon (63 MPH).

The Speed Profiles database currently covers 85,000 miles of interstate highways in the United States. To see lists of the top 20 states with the highest MPH averages, maps of the fastest and slowest highways in the U.S. and for further information, go to