Teen Driver Safety Devices
November 9, 2010
No matter what rules or boundaries a parent may set for their teen driver, once that teen is out of sight, the parent has to rely on trust and faith that the teen will obey those rules. However teens are teens and a multitude of outside influences can act on them to prevent their adherence to the rules. Fortunately, there are new technologies available that can allow a parent to monitor their teen’s driving habits and whereabouts at all times.
Here are a few of the existing technologies that help give parents peace of mind:
Sprint’s Family Locator / Verizon’s Chaperone - http://sfl.sprintpcs.com/finder-sprint-family/welcome.htm / http://products.verizonwireless.com/index.aspx?id=fnd_chaperone, additional charges to monthly plan
Teens always have their cell phone with them and, if the teen is using a Sprint or Verizon phone, there are extra services available that allow a parent to track their teen’s location via a phone or computer. This allows a parent to monitor whether or not the teen is where he or she said they would be.
The Determinator Ignition Interlock Device – http://www.stopdwi.com/, $1,595 + shipping and installation fees
This breathalyzer interlock system will prevent the car from starting if the teen’s Blood Alcohol Level is above the legal limit. While expensive, this device guarantees that a teen can never drive drunk and that peace of mind may be well worth the investment..
DriveCam: Teen Safe Driver Program package – http://www.drivecam.com/, $899 plus monthly fees/FREE if insurance is covered by American Family’s auto insurance
This in-car camera system records “risky driving behavior”and sends them to DriveCam for third-party assessment of a teen driver’s skills. The reports are then sent to parents, who can discuss the driving behavior with their teen. Cars insured with American Family’s auto insurance may sign up for the Teen Safe Driver Program, which offers the device/service for free. American Family also claims that footage taken from a car will not be used as evidence and belongs to the purchaser.
CarChip Pro – http://www.carchip.com/Products/8226.asp, $119
CarChipPro is essentially a black box which, once the information is downloaded, provides parents with a history of the teen’s driving. The system may also be set to turn into an alarm if certain speeds are reached or if the driver is braking too hard. Like DriveCam, it is a tool to help discuss a teen’s driving habits by allowing parents to show them the facts, and how to correct their driving behavior.
MyKey – http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=29172, only available for Ford models manufactured in 2010
First seen on the 2010 Ford Focus, the MyKey system is designed to help parents set certain limitations on their Ford vehicles for when their teens are driving. With the configurable key, this system is designed for parents who share their cars with teen drivers.
The key features are:
- Speed Control, limiting the top speed of the Ford vehicle to 80 mph.
- Volume control, which allows parents to set a maximum volume level for the car’s radio.
- Beltminder, an alarm system that mutes the radio and plays a chime every 6 seconds, every minute or every 5 minutes when the seatbelt is unbuckled.
- Fuel reminder: alerts the teen that they need to refuel, when fuel is low.
No matter how good these technologies are, they still aren’t as effective as firm rules and boundaries set up by parents who provide a good driving role model for their child. Studies have shown that teens, whose parents have set clear boundaries and follow up with enforcement, have a safer driving record than those teens whose parents don’t set firm rules or who provide a poor role model for safe driving. Parents who want to start such a dialogue with their teens should consider a parent-teen contract before their child begins to drive on their own.