New technology available to parents who worry about teen drivers

Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of Boston teens, which is why many parents fret when their teen drivers ask to take the car for the night. But new technology could help put parents’ fears to rest. Companies are now offering dashboard cameras that begin recording when a teen driver engages in risky behavior such as speeding, slamming on the breaks or swerving.

The surveillance video can then be sent to parents, who can sit down with their teens to discuss better driving habits. A company that has one of these devices on the market, known as Drivecam, even has a data center where the video is reviewed. The data center can then offer driving tips to the teen drivers to help avoid future car accidents.

Another technology that is now available is called Geofencing, which alerts parents when a vehicle is driven above a certain speed or taken out of a certain perimeter established by the parents. Parents can even log on to a website to see exactly where the car is located at any given time.

Other, less technical, approaches have been developed as well. For example, some parents are placing “How’s My Driving?” bumper stickers on their teens’ cars with a phone number to call or text. This allows other drivers on the road to alert parents when teen drivers are engaged in dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

All of these methods are intended to give parents peace of mind when their teens begin driving on their own. While some teens would probably see the devices as an infringement of privacy, others admit that knowing they are being monitored causes them to be more careful.

“You know that if you screw up they’re going to catch you, and it’s going to get reported,” said a teen whose parents installed the Drivecam device on his car.

While the high-tech devices can be expensive to install, some insurance companies are offering them for free and a few new car models are coming already-equipped with the cameras. However, experts say that it’s best to talk to your teen about the device instead of using it as hidden surveillance.

Source: CBS New York, “New Technology Could Help Teens Stay Safe Behind The Wheel,” April 4, 2013