Ride shotgun with your teen driver

Published On: May 13 2013 10:06:42 PM EDT
Updated On: May 14 2013 10:40:00 PM EDT

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In fact, teen drivers are three times more likely than adults to be in a fatal crash. 

If you have a teen, you know it's a constant dread that they'll be in a crash, so you want to know exactly what they're doing when they're behind the wheel.  You realize they're more careful when you're in the car with them, but that's not always possible.  But new monitoring options can make it seem like you are.

You've seen police dashcam video. Now there's dashboard video, too.  Jeff Gabell, 17, has it in his car.

"It gave me the comfort to let him start driving alone,” said Jeff's mom, Catherine Gabell.

The DriveCam activates every time Jeff does something considered unsafe.  The video is sent to professionals who offer tips to improve.  It's also sent to his mom.

"You know that if you screw up they’re going to catch you and it’s going to get reported," said Jeff.

DriveCam iis one of several recent technologies now being used to keep kids safe on the road, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

"They can look at the speed of the driving, can look at whether or not the teen is being reckless in their driving," said Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Another technology called Geofencing not only notifies parents if the car is driven above a certain speed, but also outside a certain perimeter. 

"It can actually let the parent log onto a website and see where the car is," said Carroll Lachnit with Edmunds.com.

Some cars come with it built in by the manufacturer or it can be purchased from a third party and installed. Another option isn't nearly as high tech, but experts say it can be just as effective. You've probably seen those 'how's my driving?' bumper stickers on trucks and buses. Now, parents are slapping them on their kids' cars. Comments can be texted to mom and dad.

"It could be that just having that phone number on a bumper sticker on it, on the back of a car, might give a teenager pause before they do something they shouldn't be doing," said Lachnit.

Think this kind of monitoring is a little much?  Maybe even an invasion of privacy? Experts say not if you're up front with your teen from the start.

"It's not a matter of not trusting them but a matter of improving their driving skills," said Worters.

While Jeff was hesitant about the camera at first, he says he doesn't mind it now. and feels he's become a better driver because of it.

"It's a good thing I think. It's helped me," Jeff said.

While at least one insurance company offers a dash board camera free to its clients, anyone can get the camera and a year's worth of professional advice for $900. Some car manufacturers incorporate Geo-Fence technology into their vehicles or offer it as an add-on service for a few dollars a month.

After market Geo-Fence devices can run you several hundred dollars.   The "How's my kid driving?" bumper sticker program is the budget option at ten dollars a year.

Car manufacturer direct options:

Hyundai Blue
Mercedes mbrace

Chrysler Group: Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (Mopar accessory, dealer installed, silver package)

For Chevy, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn, Oldsmobile: OnStar Family

Kia: UVO Trip Assist

Infiniti: Infiniti Connection

Some third-party options:

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