New tech can help parents monitor their teens' driving skills at all times
Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
Catherine Gabell installed the 'drivecam' in her 17-year-old son Jeff's car. She explains, "It gave me the comfort to let him start driving alone."
The drivecam activates every time Jeff does something considered unsafe. The video is sent to professionals who offer tips to improve. It's also sent to his mom.
"You know that if you screw up they're going to catch you and it's going to get reported," Jeff says.
Drivecam is just one of several recent technologies now being used to keep kids safe on the road, according to Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute. "They can look at the speed of the driving, can look at whether or not the teen is being reckless in their driving."
Another technology called 'geofencing' not only notifies parents if the car is driven above a certain speed, but also outside a certain perimeter.
"It can actually let the parent log onto a website and see where the car is," says Carroll Lachnit of edmunds.com.
Some cars come with it built in by the manufacturer, or it can be purchased from a third party and installed. Another option isn't nearly as high tech, but experts say it can be just as effective.
You've probably seen those 'How's My Driving?' bumper stickers on trucks and buses. Now, parents are slapping them on their kids' cars. Comments can be texted to mom and dad. Lachnit adds, "It could be that just having that phone number on a bumper sticker on it, on the back of a car, might give a teenager pause before they do something they shouldn't be doing."
Think this kind of monitoring is a little much? Maybe even an invasion of privacy? Experts say not if you're up front with your teen from the start.
"It's not a matter of not trusting them but a matter of improving their driving skills," Worters explains.
While Jeff was hesitant about the camera at first, he says he doesn't mind it now, and feels he's become a better driver because of it. "It's a good thing I think. It's helped me."
While at least one insurance company offers a dash board camera free to its clients, anyone can get the camera and a year's worth of professional advice for $900. Some car manufacturers incorporate geo-fence technology into their vehicles or offer it as an add-on service for a few dollars a month. After market geo-fence devices can run you several hundred dollars. The how's my kid driving bumper sticker program is the budget option at $10 a year.