Image: Woman with car keys © Jose Luis Pelaez, Inc, Blend Images, Jupiterimages

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.

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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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Record the data for later review

Usage-based programs are becoming common among insurance companies, with substantial discounts available to drivers who install a monitoring device and demonstrate a pattern of low-risk driving.

Safeco's Teen Safety Rewards program is aimed squarely at teen drivers. Safeco's device plugs into the car's OBD-II diagnostics port, recording and transmitting data on speed, acceleration, braking and nighttime driving. A weekly report is emailed to the parent and teen, with the option to see more detail online. While the discount varies by state, most teens receive a 15% break on their premiums.

Other programs aren't necessarily aimed at teens. The Progressive Snapshot plug-in collects and transmits data similar to that of the Safeco program, with a discount of up to 30%. State Farm's In-Drive program uses Hughes Telematics technology and promises the possibility of even greater discounts, as much as 50%. Programs are also available through Travelers and Allstate.

A number of OBD-II plug-ins are available if your insurer doesn't offer one.

The CarChip Pro records data and allows parents to set thresholds for speed, acceleration and braking. If these thresholds are exceeded, a beeping sound alerts the driver. At $119, it is one of the more cost-effective options.

Set limits ahead of time

Carmakers are starting to put technology in their vehicles that allows parents to monitor or even control what their teens can do at the wheel.

With Ford's MyKey system, parents can program the teen's key to limit the top speed of the vehicle to 80 mph and prevent the driver from disabling stability control and other safety systems. It can limit audio volume and chime an alert at 45 mph, 55 mph and 65 mph. A persistent seat-belt chime ensures that teens buckle up. The system can block incoming phone and text messages, too.

Hyundai's Blue Link technology lets parents set geo-fences, top speed limits and curfews on the vehicle. Email alerts are sent when any limit is exceeded.

Get the whole village involved

A few state governments also have notification programs designed to improve teen driving.

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The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles runs the Teen Electronic Event Notification Service. TEENS notifies parents when traffic violations, accidents or suspensions appear on a teen's record. Florida is considering a similar proposal.

The Michigan Sheriffs' Association runs the Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers program. When police pull over a vehicle with a STOPPED sticker on the windshield, parents are notified, regardless of whether a ticket is issued.

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Shut down their cellphones

Your cellphone provider may offer a text- and call-disabling program. It is activated when the phone senses the car moving. AT&T's app is free; Sprint's Drive First is $2 a month.

You might get more functionality by buying one of dozens of smartphone apps.

The iGuardianTeen app, for example, disables texting and calls. A report is sent to parents after every driving session and includes information about top speeds, trip duration and any excessive G-force events triggered by sudden braking or swerving. The program alerts parents if the app is shut down. It is available only for Android phones and costs $4.99.

Go low-tech

These solutions don't require electronics, but they also don't return as much data:

Parents can buy a "How's My Teen Driving?" bumper sticker that routes calls to a reporting center, which emails the parents. Tell the Parents is $31.95 a year. Or you could simply print a "How's My Driving?" bumper sticker of your own with a phone number on it, if you're prepared to deal with a crank call or two.

You can hire someone to follow your teen. Really, you can. StreetEyes says its operators will follow at a discreet distance, filming the car, capturing its speed and tracking it by GPS, then report back to you, at a cost of $30 for a 20-minute session.

Lastly, there is the old standby familiar to any driver who came of age in the pre-cellphone era: Check the odometer and write it down.

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