Big day: Your son or daughter just got their license. But while they’re busy rejoicing about their newfound freedom, you’re busy having a nervous breakdown about how to keep your teen driver safe behind the wheel. The good news is that there is tons of new gadgets and apps that will do just that, so you can stop panicking and resume weeping (weren’t they just toddlers a second ago?).
Already In the Car
Teen Driver is a system offered by Chevrolet that allows you to back seat drive even when you’re not in the back (or front) seat. To set it up, use a custom PIN to activate speed alerts, radio volume limits and more. You can even mute the audio in the vehicle until seat belts are fastened and receive a full report card on your kid’s driving performance when they return. OK, so your kid might not love having their every move monitored, but if knowing you’re watching encourages them to keep their eyes on the road—and off the radio volume control—it’s a small price to pay.
Add It To The Car
Not in the market for a new vehicle? Automatic Pro ($130) is an adaptor that can be plugged into almost any car’s standard diagnostics port. When you activate it, and sync the Automatic app, you’ll receive info and alerts about car problems that might otherwise have gone undetected (like why the heck the check engine light is on again). You’ll also have License+, a driving coach for teens, monitoring 100 hours of independent driving as your kid learns to navigate the road. It detects hard braking, rapid acceleration, and speeding, and rewards your young driver with badges if they’re driving safely, accelerating smoothly or navigating at night. If things don’t go well, it also comes with 24/7 crash alerts.
Hum ($30 one-time equipment fee; $10 per month) is a similar option that you can add onto the car you own now. It also offers on-the-go emergency assistance and maintenance reminders and comes with a driving history feature that allows you to keep tabs on trip time and distance, vehicle location and speed alerts.
Add to Your Phone
As for apps without any auxiliary equipment that are designed to assist your kids—and promote safety—on the road, Driver Protect from Life360 (starts at $7.99 a month) is an iPhone or Android app you can download to receive in-depth information about your teen’s driving habits. This includes phone usage, whether or not there was any rapid acceleration or hard braking and also the top speed that they hit. I personally use this app, and it’s been really helpful for not only locating my teen as he roams the city, but we can review his data at the end of the week, and talk about how he can improve.
There’s also Cellcontrol ($7.95 a month), an app that allows parents to disable the ability to text, use social media and take selfies while driving. It activates as soon as motion is detected and you can customize restrictions (like speed alerts) based on who’s behind the wheel.
Free Settings & Apps
Are there any safety measures for teens that are totally free? Yep.
First, there’s Apple’s new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, (one of my favorite features of iOS11). With it, your kid’s iPhone can sense when they’re driving and turn off all notifications. To activate, visit the Control Center in your phone’s settings. When someone texts or calls when your teen is driving, their screen will stay dark and the person on the other end will receive a notification letting them know they can’t talk.
You can achieve similar results with AT&T’s DriveMode, a free app that silences incoming messages and calls the minute it detects speeds over 15 mph. Even cooler, parents of teenage drivers can receive an alert if the app—or any of its safety features—are disabled for any reason.
Of course, all of the above can’t guarantee safety (or make your kids stop growing up), but each service does take you one step closer to something valuable to anyone with a teen driver: Peace of mind.
Do you have a teen driver in your midst? Have you used any of these apps or gadgets to monitor their driving? Let me know in the comments.