Seeing your teenager behind the wheel is often a bittersweet moment for parents. While you are probably excited about this new chapter in their lives, it is also one that opens the door to excessive worry about their safety and well-being when you aren’t there.
With teen drivers being three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drivers over 20; the worry is common among parents.
Luckily, thanks to new technology, there are three ways you can make sure your teen is making safe driving choices when you aren’t there.
Ignition Interlock Devices
Underage drinking has been an ongoing concern when it comes to teens driving. In many states, drivers convicted of a DUI are required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles, preventing the cars from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol level is more than a certain amount. In addition to these regulatory authorities, many parents are interested in using these devices to protect their teen drivers.
Parents in Michigan may soon be able to install breathalyzer locking devices on their cars to prevent teens from driving under the influence. A proposed bill would allow manufacturers to make devices that won’t automatically generate a report for the secretary of state—as is the case with current ignition interlocking devices—giving parents a way to prevent drunk driving, even if they aren’t there.
While there are significant benefits to installing an ignition interlock device, there are some potential downfalls: The biggest issue is the cost of the devices, with some costing nearly $800. Other concerns include distractions the device could cause, depending on where it is installed in the vehicle, and teens viewing the device installation as a sign of distrust from their parents.
Telematics devices are increasing in popularity among insurance providers, with many offering discounts to policyholders that agree to installation. Parents can also utilize telematics devices to record data about their teen driver’s locations and driving habits. There are several options currently available to parents.
Many insurance carriers offer these devices to policyholders with the promise of a premium discount. State Farm and Allstate both offer a plug-in device that collects data in real-time about drivers’ speed, braking habits, hours on the road and how well they make turns. Parents can view this information and have crucial conversations about driving habits when necessary.
Allstate also has a mobile app, Drivewise, which is similar to the plug-in device.
In addition to insurance carriers, vehicle manufacturers and cell phone providers are also offering telematics programs. Ford allows parents to restrict the audio volume of the car stereo until drivers buckle their seatbelts, and Sprint and AT&T provide specialty apps to customers to prevent distracted driving by automatically responding to messages while in motion.
Dashboard cameras, or dash cams, are commonly used to capture unique moments while on the road. They are also a low-cost tool you can use to encourage safe driving decisions, because they collect valuable information about driving habits.
Dash cams give parents a way to hold young drivers accountable for their actions. Since dash cams record every moment behind the wheel, teen drivers are more likely to keep their eyes on the road, drive the speed limit, and not experiment with risk. Parents can review the recordings when needed, to determine if their teens are following traffic rules. Some dash cams also include Wi-Fi technology and link the recordings to smartphone apps, so parents can monitor teen driving habits on the go.
Installing these devices won’t guarantee that your teen will be accident-free on the road, but they do encourage better driving decisions and minimize their liability when crashes occur. The best way to promote safety on the road is by modeling safe driving techniques for teens to model.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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