Now think about how scary it is that most of our teen drivers today have been influenced by these smartphones since the day they came into our world. They have never seen a pay phone. They do not memorize phone numbers at all, and some may not even know how many digits they would have to dial. The twentieth century may as well be a foreign land to them.
Here are some disturbing facts about teen driving:
● Teens driving between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am are 40 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident.
● The highest ranking age of teens involved in a vehicle crash is 16 years old.
● In 2010, 33 percent of deaths among teens were due to severe car crashes.
● The two primary factors in teen car accident fatalities are speed and distractions.
What can you do to protect your teen driver?
1. Ford My KeyThe My Key, developed by Ford, can help you teach your teen to drive responsibly. When your teen driver is operating the vehicle, the system can direct all incoming phone calls to voicemail, sound an alert until the front seat belts are fastened, and keep the car from going over the preset top speed.
My Key prevents your teen from disabling the blind spot assistance and front collision alert. It can also be set to alert the driver when the fuel tank is getting low, to prevent them from running out of gas and getting stranded.
This technology is just one of many ways you can protect your teen driver while they are on the road.
2. Hyundai Blue LinkHyundai takes a more direct approach to protect your teen. They offer a system that monitors safeguards that you set for your teen driver. The philosophy behind Blue Link is that your teen will drive safer if they know someone is observing them. Rather than alerting your teen, it notifies you, the parent or guardian via email, text, or phone call. Your teen driver will also receive notifications on the car's dashboard.
This technology is an internally installed extra. Hyundai includes Blue Link in most of its car models including Sonata, Genesis, Genesis Coupe, Veloster, Azera, and Santa Fe.
Here is a list of the safeguards that Blue Link offers:
● Remote Start with Climate Control
● Remote Door Lock and Unlock
● On-Demand Diagnostics and Alerts
● Destination Search with Google
● Remote Car Finder
● The Teen Driver specific alerts are:
● Curfew Alert - When your teen is driving after hours.
● Speed Alert - When your teen exceeds the preset speed limit.
● Panic Button Alert - When your teen presses the panic button in the car.
● Geographic Alert - When your teen drives outside their preset geographic boundaries.
3. Chevrolet Teen DriverChevrolet has equipped many of its newer models with Teen Driver: a built-in system that is designed to assist you with coaching your new driver.
Chevy takes its safety philosophy about halfway between Ford and Hyundai. Rather than just alerting your teen, or sending you a message if those pre-set boundaries are breached, it keeps an in-vehicle report card of your teen’s driving over time. It is essentially Chevy's black box, and you can find it in most of Chevy's vehicles including Malibu, Cruze, Tahoe, Suburban, Traverse, Colorado, and more.
Chevy's Teen Driver system has:
● Speed Alert - Whenever your teen surpasses the speed value that you set, they will receive an alert, and the black box records the incident in the report card.
● Volume Limit & Radio Mute -The Teen Driver system allows you to set a volume limit that your teen has to abide by while driving. Also, while the passengers in the front seat remain unbuckled in their seatbelts, the system will mute the radio.
The concept behind the In-Vehicle Report Card is that it will help you monitor your teen’s driving, and make appropriate corrections with them. It tracks all the vital information such as the distance driven, anti-lock brake events, tailgating notifications, speed warnings, forward collision alerts, and much more. After viewing the in-vehicle report card, you can talk to your teen and help them improve their driving by correcting those problematic issues.
4. iPhone's Do Not Disturb SettingIf your teen does not drive a new car with lots of fancy safety features, do not fear. There are other means to help you tackle the challenges you and your family face about teen driving.
If you use an iPhone, one of the easiest ways to keep your teen less distracted is to keep your phone on the new default "Do Not Disturb setting. It sends calls to voicemail and does not show incoming texts while you are moving at driving speed. It comes with the latest iOS update free, and it does not drain your phone battery while it is in use.
5. TrueMotion FamilyTrueMotion is the phone app that mimics Hyundai's Blue Link system from a phone's perspective. While it cannot measure brake usage, distance to other vehicles, or seatbelt safety, it can still monitor speed, curfew, and geographic boundaries for your teen driver. When your teen breaks one of those rules, you immediately receive a notification.
This app is a favorite because it is simple, and it is also free to download and use. The biggest downside to it is that it is a GPS-based app and it will run your battery down quickly when it is in use.
6. Volkswagen’s Car-NetVolkswagen has a new app called the Car-Net App. This app finds itself halfway between the TrueMotion Family app and Hyundai's Blue Link system. This app syncs with their vehicle, allowing it to gain more information that is available with just a phone app. However, it only works on Volkswagen model cars built with this option in them. It truly is a vehicle/phone app hybrid system.
The overall concept is the same as most other systems. If your teen breaks any of the rules you set for them, you will be notified immediately on your phone. This app is compatible with models such as the Beetle, Passat, Jetta, and CC.
7. License+License+ is available on both Android and iOS devices and is a useful app that can help teens drive correctly. The app works with a plug-in called an Automatic. After you install Automatic to the car, the gadget sends essential information back to the app such as your teen's braking, acceleration, and speed across a span of days. You can then log into License+ as often as you like to monitor your young driver's progress.
What separates License+ from the others is that it does more than monitor your teen's driving. It rewards them with achievements for safe driving, thus helping you teach them to drive well, even when you are not present with them.
8. HardwareThere are other variations of these technologies that can help you handle the issues about teen driving. We can take a hint from some of those overprotective parents who never wanted their child to leave the house without a safety helmet. While a safety helmet may not be the most critical piece of safety hardware you can buy for your teen, there are several items that you can use.
The first is a phone mount for your dashboard. While it does not eliminate the distraction of messages popping up, it at least frees their hands from trying to hold the wheel and their phone at the same time. It also puts the phone in a place that passengers may operate it for your teen driver instead of themselves.
The second item is a Bluetooth earpiece. These allow you to speak or dictate messages and emails without using your hands at all. These two pieces of hardware together can almost entirely free up the use of your teen's hands to drive instead of operating their phone.
None of these things eliminate distraction from driving for your teenager. However, they all work to free their hands and focus their minds on the road at hand instead of the hundred other things vying for their attention. No method is foolproof or without workarounds by brilliant teens. However, finding something is better than leaving your teens to the mercy of the world's distractions.
In the end, the best tool is an involved parent. Lead by example. Ride along with them and offer encouragement as well as correction. Take advantage of teachable moments. Talk to them about their friends who are involved in accidents. Show them how important safe driving is.