Parents know firsthand how attached teens are to their smartphones. They see it every day, whether they’re texting friends at the dinner table, looking at Snapchats in the backseat of the car, or playing Pokémon Go as they walk down the sidewalk.
So when it’s time for them to get their driver’s license, safety is a major concern. Parents may know the dangers of distracted driving, but they want to know that their teen drivers are aware of the risks, too. Fortunately, there’s technology to turn to in order to make sure that your teen is driving safe.
There are several in-vehicle gadgets that can be used to track your teen’s driving. Of course, before you start tracking, be sure to get their consent first.
OnStar has a Family Link service that lets you see the location of linked vehicles on an online map. You can also receive text alerts with a car’s location based on day and time. This is a good way to make sure your teen driver arrived safely, especially if they often forget to text or call to tell you so.
Family Link can be added onto any OnStar plan for a nominal monthly fee. Cost: $3.99 per month with OnStar plan starting at $199.90 per year.
MOTOsafety is a service that keeps track of where your teen driver is located. The device plugs in underneath the vehicle’s dash and shows the car’s location in real-time. It also generates alerts for unsafe driving behaviors like speeding, hard braking, and excessive acceleration so that you can coach your teen driver.
You can also receive maintenance updates on the vehicle and the service even sends your teen driver a daily driving report card so they can see how they improve over time. Cost: $19.99 per month with one-time fee of $79.99 for device
Groove plugs in underneath the car’s steering wheel and connects the driver’s mobile phone to a cloud, preventing all incoming texts, calls, or notifications while your teen drives. Groove also sends messages to you, or whoever tries to contact them, stating that your teen is driving and unavailable at the moment. After your teen stops driving, they’ll receive any messages they missed.
Groove is a great option for parents who want to make sure their teen, or any driver, cannot use their phone while driving. Cost: In development, expected cost $5-$10 per month
There are several mobile apps available to measure driving skills on the road. Cell phone sensors can detect when a phone user is driving and these apps allow you to improve your safe driving skills.
EverDrive is a free mobile app that automatically phone distraction, speeding, acceleration, cornering, and braking. It then rates drivers on those five categories and awards them a driving score that is based on their past two weeks of driving. The good thing about this app is that parents can use it to compete with their teen drivers for the highest safe driving score.
The competition aspect makes this technology a fun pick, as it’s not so much about Mom or Dad tracking you, as it is about a competition for a better score. Parents could even offer a reward or prize for whoever has the highest score at the end of a set period of time to increase the incentive. This approach encourages drivers in a positive way, instead of sending alerts to Mom or Dad. Cost: Free.
Some cell phone providers also offer apps to keep your teen driver safe. AT&T DriveMode is a free mobile app that helps your teen avoid any distractions while on the road. It silences all texts and alerts, and automatically responds to those trying to reach them to let them know they’re driving. The Sprint Drive First free mobile app works similarly.
Additionally, Verizon’s Hum is a subscription-based program that also monitors teen drivers and sends location and speeding alerts. Cost: AT&T DriveMode and Sprint Drive First, free; Verizon’s Hum, $10 per month, one-time fee of $20 and one-time $29.99 equipment fee for a 2-year subscription.
Cellcontrol uses an in-vehicle gadget and a mobile app to improve your teen’s driving behavior. It blocks the ability to text, email and use your phone while you drive and sends location and speed alerts. The cost of the service depends on the number of vehicles you choose to connect. Cost: $129 one-time fee, connects with free mobile app.
Photo: Flickr / State Farm