TEEN DRIVERS & SAFETY Yes there is even Tech for that
California, (March, 2012) – Parents of teenage drivers inwardly struggle every time their child gets behind the wheel, hoping that their teen is “doing the right thing,” refraining from speeding, and not driving distractedly. Statistics affirm that teens with involved parents are involved in fewer accidents and exhibit overall better driving. Driver’s education provides them with the rules-of-the-road, but it’s not enough. Here some techno-tools to add to your arsenal.
Strike up a conversation: Start the conversation about your safe-driving expectations early and “check-in” with your teen on an ongoing basis. You’ll probably receive some eye rolls, but remind them that the rules you set are intended to keep them safe. Arm yourself with safety articles, statistics and tools from Parents Are The Key, (www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey). Consider their recommended “Graduated Driver Licensing” approach that starts off relatively restrictive and allows more privileges over time as your teen gains driving skills. AliveAt25 (www.safetycenter.org/com_aliveat25.html#Teen) helps you find teen driving safety courses developed by the National Safety Council.
Encouraging words: When encouraging your teen to refrain from speeding is not enough, SpeedBUMP (www.speedbumpgps.com) may help. It allows parents to set “realistic speed limits” for different road types and sends an email or text message when their child exceeds the parameters. It has a Distracted Driving Monitor which messages the parent should texting, web browsing or emailing occur when the phone speed is over 10 MPH. Parents can remotely enable phone tracking (using the phone’s GPS) from their mobile phone or encrypted account.
Leave a Message at the beep: We all know that driving while texting, surfing the web and emailing is a big no-no. Luckily, there are a multitude of applications available for Android and BlackBerry phones that completely disable the phone while it’s in motion, except for emergency calls. Make sure the one you choose works automatically, so your teen doesn’t “forget” to turn it on. It should provide you with feedback so you know it’s working: an email or text message when it’s disabled and a notification when a “violation” has occurred. Most allow you to set an automated text reply, such as “I am driving right now; I’ll get back with you shortly” while nothing appears on your child’s phone. Some even have emergency tracking so you can find your child with the phone’s GPS.
Truly Hands Free: DriveSafe.ly (www.drivesafe.ly) offers a free application for iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones. It reads your text messages and emails aloud, hands-free, is Bluetooth compatible and has a customizable auto-responder. It’ll read up to
50 words per message for free or upgrade to Pro for $13.95/year to hear up to 500 words per message. PhoneGuard’s DriveSafe free application (www.phoneguard.com) for Android and Blackberry disables your phone’s keyboard when GPS tracking determines that the phone is travelling faster than 10 miles per hour, includes custom text auto reply, and can notify the administrator if set speed parameters are not met. There is an iPhone version, but it just reminds you not to text – 3rd party iPhone apps can’t block incoming texts or block the use of the device, so it’s not likely to be as effective.
Disable it: Once plugged in to your car’s OBDII port (under your steering wheel), the Key2SafeDriving (www.key2safedriving.com, $70.95) can be paired with all of your phones to disable phone functionality while the car ignition is engaged, allowing only Bluetooth-enabled services and emergency calls. Incoming calls are routed to voicemail and texters receive an automated message that the user is driving. Tamperproof design sends a text message to the parent if the child tries to circumvent the device. Since it doesn’t run off the phone’s GPS, you’ll save some battery life on your phone.
Super Safe: For some super high-tech ways to keep your teen safe while driving, check out www.njteendriving.com/technology. You’ll find GPS devices for your car, alcohol breathalyzers for your iPhone, even on-board video recorders. When it comes to keeping your teen safe on the road, technology is on your side.