I consider myself a safe driver, and with only one minor accident and one ticket in the past 37 years, I think I have the record to prove it. But being a relatively careful driver is a frustrating experience. It means dutifully respecting the rules of the road even as you watch careless, aggressive and inconsiderate jerks get away with murder.
A few years ago I made a 14-hour round-trip to northern Michigan, and in that time I saw exactly two state troopers. Illinois has signs warning that fines start at $375 for speeding in construction zones, but I've never seen anyone pulled over. Drive even 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit on the Chicago expressways, and you'll get passed right and left. And as long as the bad drivers don't get tickets or crash their cars, they pay no price for their dangerous behavior.
So it's good news to hear that some car insurance companies are offering discounts to drivers who install computer devices that prove they really are driving safely. Keep your speed down, and you get credit for it. Veer in and out of traffic, and it will be held against you. Customers in Progressive's "Snapshot" program get savings of as much as 30 percent.
There is a privacy concern, since government agencies may find ways to obtain the records for their own purposes. So it would be a good thing for state legislatures to pass laws assuring that the records are off-limits to law enforcement without a warrant.
But most good drivers would love to get something tangible for being careful, responsible and law-abiding. Right now we just get to eat other people's exhaust.