Auto insurance companies have started offering devices for parents to monitor teen driving habits. Services include in-car cameras or global positioning devices. The intent? Reducing teen car accidents.

Teen Driver

We all know that insurance is higher for teens because they tend to get in more accidents. But is looking over their shoulder the right solution?

>> Teaching teens to be safe drivers

Teens are riskier

Teen fatality rates are four times higher than most drivers over 25. And with road rage on the rise, we certainly worry that our teens won't know how to adequately handle a volatile situation. Will knowing that Mom will see and hear them later help teens drive better, or will it add more pressure and cause them to make more mistakes?

If you need to track them, are they ready?

My concern is this: If you don't trust your teen in the car, why in the world are you letting them drive alone? If they're not ready, give them more road time with you in the car. They need practice and instruction on what to do or not do (not yelling or berating — just instruction).

When my teenage stepdaughter was in the car with me, I would explain why another driver's behavior was rude or dangerous. I wanted her to understand that she's not the only car on the road and she must always look out for the "other guy." Teens must understand the basics of defensive driving. If they don't, why should we let them behind the wheel?

Some insurance companies with these teen safety programs offer discounts to parent participants. That alone may give many parents the incentive to enroll. I still believe we should teach our teens good habits and then be an example by not talking on our cell phones or getting distracted by things in the car.

>> Does your teen need a cell phone?

Sometimes we just want to make sure our teens are where they say they are, and GPS tracking can certainly help with that, especially in large cities where you can't rely on neighbors to mention where they saw your teen last night. However, I hope to establish a relationship with my (soon-to-be born) son that won't require these devices. I have no guarantees, but I hope that these devices are not 15 or 16 years in my future.

Is age 16 too low?

Maybe we need to take a closer look at the entire culture of driving. Is it time to raise the driving age? Or require permits for a longer period of time? Are teens mature enough to handle the privilege? I do think it varies by individual. But how many parents will refuse to let their teen drive until the teen is truly ready? I think it should be the parents' responsibility to decide whether or not their teen is ready to drive alone.

>> Types of GPS systems

If your insurance company offers cameras or GPS monitoring, will you enroll your teen? Why or why not? I'd love to hear what other parents are thinking of doing. Fortunately, I have a number of years before I have to make that decision, and I wonder I'll feel the same way then. What about you?


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Comments on "Teen Drivers: Track them or trust them?"

Karen Dana January 05, 2009 | 12:03 PM

After reading many reviews and information on GPS, I decided to buy my GPS Tracking System I bought it at Bluewater http://www.bluewatersecurityprofessionals. Lots of Reasons that I bought there: 1. Competitive Prices 2. Lots of Selection of different types and Brands (They walked me thru which one was best for me and didn’t force me into 1 type) 3. Much info on their website and when I had questions there customer service rep was very knowledgeable. I purchased a The Trackstick and it is is nothing like any of the other GPS tracking products on the market. Its software is very top rate with hundreds of different features. You can sort data, export to Google Earth (the Google Earth integration is flawless) Because of the vast number of features, it can take some time to learn how to use the Trackstick properly but when you do, the information you can get as a result is amazing. The geotagging feature worked well for us when we were in Italy. It tagged every photo exactly where they were taken and showed all the ground we covered on our trip. For Me: This is what I really like compared to the others: -Software is amazing -When used as instructed, batteries last a very long time. I calculated 10 times longer than my Garmin. -Google Earth Integration is flawless -Great product support -The data and time filtering is very helpful -Geotagging with Flickr was fun for family photos. Overall, I give the Trackstick and Bluewater very high marks.

Karen Dana January 05, 2009 | 12:02 PM

After reading many reviews and information on GPS, I decided to buy my GPS Tracking System I bought it at Bluewater http://www.bluewatersecurityprofessionals. Lots of Reasons that I bought there: 1. Competitive Prices 2. Lots of Selection of different types and Brands (They walked me thru which one was best for me and didn’t force me into 1 type) 3. Much info on their website and when I had questions there customer service rep was very knowledgeable. I purchased a The Trackstick and it is is nothing like any of the other GPS tracking products on the market. Its software is very top rate with hundreds of different features. You can sort data, export to Google Earth (the Google Earth integration is flawless) Because of the vast number of features, it can take some time to learn how to use the Trackstick properly but when you do, the information you can get as a result is amazing. The geotagging feature worked well for us when we were in Italy. It tagged every photo exactly where they were taken and showed all the ground we covered on our trip. For Me: This is what I really like compared to the others: -Software is amazing -When used as instructed, batteries last a very long time. I calculated 10 times longer than my Garmin. -Google Earth Integration is flawless -Great product support -The data and time filtering is very helpful -Geotagging with Flickr was fun for family photos. Overall, I give the Trackstick and Bluewater very high marks.

Tony McGann July 08, 2008 | 11:06 AM

I'll say right of the bat that I work for a company that makes a teen driving safety monitor for parents. So I have a vested interest in supporting what I do for a living. Here is what I have learned during my time in this field. First: Most parents don't know the risks their teen is facing when they give them the keys to the car. In many cases, parents begin to trust their kids after a few short lessons, and these teens are not fully prepared. The first thing we need to do as a community is educate parents. Another interesting fact is that teen drivers, while driving with an instructor, or their parents, have the same risk of accident as the general population. It is only when they are unsupervised, that this risk is increased by about 6 times. There is no study to suggest why this happens, it is simply a fact. Furthermore, accidents involving teen drivers have no specific demographic. Doesn't matter what background. They are all getting into accidents. The problem parents face is not knowing whether or not "Johnny" has been doing the basics right while driving. There is no way of knowing. So what can parents do to monitor their kids unsupervised driving? Well, the main reasons for accidents among teens include speeding, inattention, and driver inexperience. Our company makes a device that measures maximum speed, distance traveled and number of times the brakes were hit too hard. It is a simply LCD keychain. It's not as invasive as a GPS to let you know where "Johnny" is. Perhaps not as technical as an on board camera. Just a very simply trip review that you can look at and see whether you kid has been speeding around town, slamming on the brakes because of tailgating, inattention etc. or driving 150 miles on the weekend to the coast. Just like a report card! Do we consider it spying when "Johnny" comes home and tells you he got a D in math? No, we might try to help him a little with that homework. We certainly do not throw the report card in the garbage because "Johnny" might feel his privacy has been compromised. If your kid is a bad student, it shows up in his/her report card. If he/she speeds around town, tailgates, is not paying attention, then as at least you can offer some proactive feedback instead of never knowing. The consequences of bad driving habits are the number one killer of teens in the US.

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