By the time your child is a teen, his greatest risk is behind the wheel of a car. Auto accidents account for the largest number of teen fatalities – and privacy issues aside, knowing where your child is driving, how fast they are going and how reliably they are following your family rules is an important part of safety. The approach you choose will depend on your family, your child and your comfort level with technology.
Follow the Device, not the Vehicle
A recent PEW study indicated that about 92% of teens access the internet multiple times per day and never leave their phones behind – taking them along for the ride is a natural extension of this practice. When you install phone tracking software designed specifically to pinpoint where the phone is, you can have a good idea of where your teen is. Most apps perform in the background as hidden tasks, but they don’t have to be a secret. Even if your young driver knows you are tracking via GPS on the telephone, they won’t be able to resist taking this important device along for the ride. Several apps and companies offer teen and smartphone tracking at different levels so you can choose the version that works best for you.
Take the Old Fashioned Approach
Parents in the 80s had no way to track teens – but most had a pretty good idea of where their kids were going. Stalking via your own car (or swapping one with another parent if you really want to be tricky) is more time consuming than using technology, but it lets you see where your teen is going in real time, with your own eyes. You’ll also be able to spot signs of trouble that GPS would miss — is your child texting, applying makeup or visibly distracted while driving? This is important information to have and won’t come across with regular GPS monitoring. If your teen has a recognizable vehicle, you won’t have to be a pro to confirm that they actually are where they said they would be – and you can easily see “how” they are driving to get there.
Fleet Management Software
Fleet owners need to know – “How am I driving?” Installing a device on your teen’s vehicle that provides real time feedback of speed, acceleration and other details can give you a clue of how fast they are driving. If you see a 55mph speed, but know your teen was driving in a residential neighborhood with a 25 mph limit, it is likely time for some real talk about vehicles and safety.
Dedicated Tracking GPS
Installing a dedicated GPS tracking unit on your teen’s car is the easiest and most reliable way to track everything from speed to location and even braking. This prolific market offers many different levels of monitoring, and some companies can outfit cars of any age, making it easy to reliably track your teen and learn more about her driving behavior.
EZ Pass and Parking
If your vehicle is equipped with an EZ Pass or similar system for bridges, toll roadways and parking, you’ll be able to access a report that details when your car passed these checkpoints. Knowing that your vehicle sped over a bridge into your local city at 2am – while you were sound asleep at home – lets you know that your teen is operating your car without your knowledge, and may be straying far from home.
No matter which method you choose, knowing where your teen is and if they are living up to your expectations can clue you in to problems before they cause long lasting damage. If you’re worried about how well your teen is performing on the road when you’re not watching from the passenger seat, a defensive driving course will help.
Good driver’s education is an absolute must if you want to be sure your teen is safe on the road — and with today’s Internet addicted teens, it couldn’t be easier to complete a fun but comprehensive driver ed course without leaving the comfort of your home. Learning the safety rules of the road in a fun and compelling traffic school environment – and spying on your teen for the right reasons—could keep your young driver from becoming a nasty statistic.