Remember how you felt when you got your license and took your first solo drive? We certainly do. Proud, excited and FREE! Earning a driver’s license is the first real step into adulthood and with it comes a lot of responsibility at a young age. Back then, our parents gave us advice to help keep us safe. But there was little beyond this to assist them. Today, we’re lucky to have modern technology like connected devices and smartphone apps to help. Here we take a look at a few options to help keep teen drivers safe and give parents peace of mind.
Capture Driving Information with Monitoring Devices
A monitoring device captures everything from vehicle speed and location to why a check engine light is on. They’re supported with apps that can push alerts and information to young drivers and their parents. Monitoring devices plug-in to a your teen driver’s car via the on-board diagnostic port (OBD II), which are available in most cars manufactured after 1996. A major benefit of using a device is that it’s connected to the car. It can’t be “forgotten” or run out of battery. In other words, if the device isn’t sending information, your teen driver is the likely culprit.
Here are some products to consider.
The Autobrain device costs about $30 and the monthly subscription fee is a low $9.97 (no contract required). Autobrain has four modes including family, teen, senior and baby. The Autobrain app is top rated with a 4.5 rating in the Apple store and 4.0 in Google Play. It’s features include:
- Car Finder
- Trip Reports
- Roadside Assistance (includes 4 free roadside calls/year; covers tire changes, emergency gas, tows and more)
- Automatic Crash Response
- Car Health
- And more
Parents can set alerts for their teen drivers as well. Set a particular speed and receive an alert when your teen is driving faster than it. You can also be alerted when your teen exceeds the speed limit or is driving during certain times of the day (or night).
The HARMAN Spark is offered exclusively by AT&T. The device costs $79.99 and rate plans vary depending on your AT&T plan, whether you want to include WiFi (turn the car into a mobile hot spot) and any promotions they’re running at the time.
The HARMAN Spark includes the following:
- Emergency Crash Assistance
- Virtual Mechanic*
- WatchIt (alerts you if your car has been bumped, towed or moved)
- Roadside Assistance manager
- WiFi Hotspot
- Family share/Fleet manager
- Parking reservations
- Driving score and tips
The Bouncie Smart Device costs $67 and has a monthly subscription fee of $8 for one device and $20 for 3 or more devices with no contract required. Bouncie has a 4.8 star rating in both the App Store and Google Play. Bouncie features that are helpful for teen drivers include:
- GPS Location
- Geo-Circles (receive an alert when your teen drives outside of a specified area)
- Speed Bands
- Alerts for acceleration, hard braking, speed and more
- Diagnostics (tells you what engine codes mean)
- Fuel & Battery
- History & Habits
Bouncie also keeps track of helpful things like when the vehicle is due for inspection and insurance information. It connects with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and includes a Tamper Detection feature to let you know if the device is being messed with.
There are several other devices are available to help keep teen drivers safe including Humx by Verizon and MOTOSafety. You will find a wealth of information online to help you decide what works best for your family.
Use Smart Driving Apps to Keep Teen Drivers Safe
While monitoring devices are great, they’re connected to the vehicle rather than to your teen. Smartphone apps are tied to a phone. This allows parents to receive driving information regardless of what car their teen is riding in. The obvious downside is that teens can “claim to” forget their phones or “loan them” to a friend. However, watchful parents will quickly catch on to such shenanigans.
Life360 Driver Protect helps keep families connected in addition to keeping teen drivers safe. This automatic crash detection and emergency response app is available at no cost on Google Play (4.5 star rating) and the App Store (4.8 star rating) with a monthly subscription fee of $7.99 or $69.99 yearly. Life360 Driver Protect includes the following features:
- Crash Detection & Emergency Response
- Phone Usage
- Rapid Acceleration
- Hard Braking
- Top Speed
- Extended Roadside Assistance
- Chat with family members
Life360 also allows family members to view each other’s locations on a map, eliminating the need to send a “where are you?” text.
Does your teen like gaming? The EverDrive app is a fun choice for teens because it awards points based on driving skills. If several friends use this app, driving safe can become a fun competition. EverDrive is a free app available on both iOS (4.2 star rating) and Android devices (3.5 star rating). EverDrive collects the following data:
- Device screen on/off
- Time of day
- Vehicle location (GPS)
- Rotational movements (gyroscope data)
- Email address provided at signup
Using a smartphone’s GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope, EverDrive calculates speed, braking, cornering and acceleration. A user is given a “driving score” (on a scale of 1-100) based on two data sets: Positive behavior like driving the speed limit, avoiding hard braking and fast acceleration results in higher scores. In contrast, negative behavior like using the phone while driving, going over the speed limit, etc. results in a lower scores.
Download Apps to Create Good Driving Habits
According to TeenSafe®, when people engage in distracted driving (driving while using their phone, for example) and get away with it (meaning that nothing bad happens), it becomes a habit. The habit then continues until they’re either caught or something bad happens. Even if you’re not interested in monitoring your teen driver, special apps exist to help them focus on the road and develop good driving habits. Consider downloading one of these recommended 7 Safe-Driving Apps (FamilyCircle).
Stay Safe with a Properly Maintained Vehicle
Above all, keeping teen drivers safe begins with proper vehicle maintenance. A well- maintained vehicle prevents break downs and keeps your teen safe. Set your family up with Openbay to stay on top of regular vehicle maintenance schedules and find reliable mechanics when needed.
*Openbay teamed up with Tantalum, an automotive software company, to enable HARMAN Spark with automotive services.