Parental Controls for Teenage Drivers
Parents want to know that their teenage drivers will be safe, especially when operating a car on the open road. According to a 2009 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teens driving vehicles with monitoring devices took fewer risks than those teen drivers who remained unsupervised. Automakers and third parties have recently released new technology that allows parents to monitor their teen drivers from a distance. This technology provides ways for parents to set limits and ensure the safety of their teens without smothering them, giving their teens important opportunities to achieve measures of independence. These parental controls for teenage drivers offer parents important peace of mind while their kids are out on the road.
The Ford Motor Company was first automaker to address the needs of parental controls for teenage drivers. With the revolutionary Ford MyKey system, parents are able to program a specialized car key to set limits on speed and the volume of the audio system, as well as monitor seatbelt use. Starting in 2013, the MyKey system allows for the pairing of smartphones with a "Do Not Disturb" feature that blocks text message alerts and sends incoming calls to voicemail. If used with the MyFord connectivity system, an automatic 911 message contacts emergency services if the airbags are deployed.
While the Ford MyKey system does not yet provide GPS monitoring, the OnStart Family Link system allows parents to see the locations of the teens at any time of the day or night. Developed by General Motors and used with the OnStar emergency communications system, the Family Link system also sends parents text or email alerts so that parents can track where their teens go in the cars that they are using. General Motors is also releasing a version of the Chevy Malibu engineered specifically for teen drivers that allows parents to set top speed limits and control audio output; this system also issues a report card, allowing parents to see exactly how well their teens drive.
Insurance companies also provide parents with plug-in devices that monitor teens' driving habits. Travelers Insurance offers IntelliDrive, which records how and where vehicles are driven and produces weekly reports on teens' driving habits. The reports reveal speed, driving hours, braking, and acceleration patterns, and parents can also be notified about these tendencies through email and text. Parents can also set geographical boundaries regarding where the car can be driven by teens. While Intellidrive is limited in availability, they are planning to expand across the United States.
Another popular plug-in device from an insurance company is Progressive's Snapshot. This system record miles and times of the day that the car is driven and how often a driver slams on the brakes. While not marketed specifically for teen drivers, this device can help them become better drivers. It does not have a GPS tracker, which makes it a less intrusive device to help parents monitor their teen drivers.
It is important for parents to remember that smartphones also have apps that can be installed to monitor teen drivers. AT&T's DriveMode is a free app that blocks texts and phone calls when a care reaches twenty-five miles per hour. Sprint's Drive First shuts down phones' features and sends automatic replies to incoming texts and calls once a car begins moving. Cellcontrol is another valuable addition on smartphones, blocking texts, emails, web access, and other phone functions while a car is in motion. It also sends an email and text to the administrator if the app is removed or misused. While no one certain program may be right to monitor teen driving, a combination of these tools can help teen drivers to stay smart and safe on the road.