2/29/2012 2:49 PM ET|
7 ways to spy on your teen driver
For parents who wish to keep tabs on their kids, technology offers a wide array of monitoring systems and other devices.
It's no secret that newly minted young drivers are inexperienced risk-takers.
Their inexperience comes at a price, both in accidents and insurance rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens are four times more likely than adult drivers to get in an accident, and adding a teen to your policy can double or even triple your car insurance rates.
Technology can help with both.
It's now possible to attach an electronic leash to a teen's vehicle, letting a worried parent ride shotgun without being in the car. Some devices use video, others GPS. Some record data for later review, and some simply prevent the teen from misbehaving on the road. And some can even lower your car insurance premium.
A 2009 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that monitoring devices helped teens become better drivers.
"The group that saw the most improvement heard an alert," says Anne McCartt, IIHS's senior vice president for research. "If they corrected their behavior within 20 seconds, violations would not be reported to their parents. This combined with a biweekly email report to the parents was the most effective combination."
Glen Pyrtle of Dallas has monitored his daughter, Jennilee, since she first got her license. Their tracker sends him alerts when the car goes more than 73 mph or leaves the approved driving area that Glen has established. The system gives him peace of mind, and he is convinced it has made Jennilee a better driver.
"She never had a chance to develop a lead foot because she knows her speed is monitored," Pyrtle says.
Following is a sampling of the systems and technologies available.
Track them with satellites
GPS-based tracking systems can record where your teen drives and his or her behavior along the way.
Safeco's Teensurance program can result in a 15% discount on car insurance rates. The Safety Beacon GPS unit is professionally installed and allows parents to instantly locate the car, set speed reminders, set up safe driving zones (called geo-fences) and send arrival/departure notifications. Alerts and notifications can be sent to a parent's email address. The system costs $200 upfront, with a $19.99 monthly fee.
The car-dealer-installed SkyLink Protect allows parents to set up geo-fences and speed alerts, and it can function as a vehicle locator if your car is stolen. It also allows a parent to unlock the door remotely if the keys are locked in the vehicle.
Other GPS-based tracking systems gather and report information through a cellphone.
Get them on video
When the DriveCam video feedback system senses risky driving, it records a few seconds of what the driver is doing and seeing. The footage is sent to DriveCam, where it is analyzed by a safety professional. Once a week, parents are sent a report that includes the footage and advice on how to improve safety.
It is one of the most effective monitoring systems, according to University of Iowa research, and one of the more expensive -- unless you are an American Family Insurance customer.
DriveCam costs $500 to install and an additional $30 per month for monitoring, but it is free if you are insured with American Family. American Family believes the system produces safer drivers, says spokesman Steve Witmer.
American Family says it does not use the data to set or adjust rates, and teens using the DriveCam system do not receive a policy discount.
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This story makes me sick. People need to stop buying this "we need to collect information on you for the safety of something" story. Just another guise to put the government and advertisers in your life.
I used TOMTOM fleet service for commercial trucks and it is great. Shows interactive map on where the vehicles are simultaneoulsy along with direction and speed and how long parked at idle or ignition off. I can run reports on each vehicle or as a group on speed reports, tracking report (which shows all the routes the vehicle took to retrace the steps) and is fantastic for maintenence and insurance purposes. I liked it so much I am having them put in my personal cars.
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