According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teens are four times more likely to crash than adult drivers. Car crashes also are the leading cause of death for those between age 16 and 20, killing more than 5,600 teenagers every year. While there is no fail-proof way to ensure safety on the road, there are ways to keep your teenager aware and accountable while driving. Help your teen focus on safety with these gadgets and resources aimed with distracted drivers in mind.
Real-life consequences from distracted driving may drive the message home for teen drivers. Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog made the sobering documentary, “From One Second to the Next” in partnership with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. The film is part of AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign and follows real-life accounts of drivers who text while driving and the serious accidents that ensue. One texting driver killed three kids riding in an Amish buggy, while another disabled a young child who was walking home from school with his sister. The texting drivers, and suffering families, all make pleas to put down your smartphones while driving.
Teens are tethered to their friends and peers and want to stay in constant contact. Eliminate the temptation to text and drive while still keeping in touch. An app like Safe Driving Text Machine can automatically send a message of your choice in response to an incoming text. The app can detect driving mode, but also respond to all text messages even if you’re not behind the wheel. Use a text like, “Hi, this is a safe text app I’m using. It’s letting you know I’m driving right now and will text you when it’s safe. See you!”
TextArrest takes safety on the road a step further. It completely disables texting and email on smartphones by sensing when a car is traveling faster than 5 mph. It also can track the movement and location of mobile phones in transit, providing you some peace of mind as your teen heads to and from somewhere.
Set consequences for your teen and his driving behavior. Take away driving privileges and ask him to contribute to the cost of car insurance for each text or distraction. But don’t forget to reward him with good driving behavior with a gas card or extra car time.
An app like DriveScribe also can help you monitor your teen’s driving behavior and establish reward incentives. The app awards points for good driving and can be cashed in for gift cards at participating retailers. Driving behavior is monitored in real-time and can also give auditory alerts when speeding or approaching stop signs. It also is able to auto-respond to incoming texts and records violations for parents to review.
Hyundai’s Blue Link interface will call for help after a crash, but also alert parents when their teenagers are distracted behind the wheel. A handy curfew alert feature automatically calls, texts or emails parents if a car is driven after a predetermined time. Parents also can set speed limits for teens and receive messages if their teen breaks that rule. The idea is if your teen knows you’re monitoring his driving behavior, he will engage in less risky behaviors or suffer the consequences. Chapman Hyundai‘s Facebook page recently posted stats about Blue Link’s Info system search, in which your teen can also do everything from remotely starting their engine and honking their horn, to searching for and sending points of interest to the vehicle. Convenience and safety in one package is a nice benefit.
Remember that kids grow up watching their parents drive. Wrestling with the music controls, digging through the glove box, putting on makeup or snacking with one hand on the wheel are all bad habits teens learn from their parents. If you’ve always been a distracted driver, there’s never been a better time to turn over a new leaf. Tell your teen you want to work on focused driving together and share info about the classes and gadgets you’re learning about for safe driving.