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Safe Driving Gadgets for Teens

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These in-car gadgets promise to help us moms sleep more soundly at night.

Ronda Kaysen: After Sara Broers' 18-year-old son got in his third traffic accident, her insurance company suggested she install a camcorder to monitor his driving. She thought it was a great idea ... for his younger brother. "I think that it would cause my older son to rebel more," she said. "But for my 14-year-old, I will put it in from the get-go and he will never know the difference."

The camcorder, known as a DriveCam, isn't the only device Broers can buy to monitor her kids' driving. There's a whole cottage industry cropping up to serve the teenage driving set and keep their parents calm as adolescents hit the road for the first time. With more than 10,000 teens in car accidents every year, it's no wonder parents are shelling out cash to monitor their progeny's every move on the highway.

We've compiled a list of some of the hottest gadgets to keep the newest drivers safe this holiday season:

Safe Driving Gadgets for Teens

The DriveCam

The DriveCam is not exactly Big Brother, more like Big Mother. The DriveCam is a camera that parents install in the windshield of the car. It records 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after any serious incidents, like speeding or sudden breaking, and sends the images back to a website where Mom can see what went on. It's not cheap. A setup kit costs $899, and then there's a $75 monthly fee. Some people think this is a little much: "If you need a video camera to monitor your kid, your kid probably shouldn't be driving," said Steve Mochel, owner of Fresh Green Light, a driving school.


The Lemur Safe Driving Monitor is a GPS device that comes on a keychain and records top speeds, distance traveled, and any abrupt stops that occurred. It also has a tamper alert to let parents know if the battery was disabled during the trip. It costs about $100. Mochel, whose 17-year-old son is his personal guinea pig for all the new driving gadgets, says this is his favorite option out there for kids.

Tell My Mom cuts right to the chase, and is pretty low-tech -- it's a sticker affixed to the back of the car that lets other drivers call a number and report erratic driving to none other than Mom. A subscription costs $55 a year.


ZoomSafer consists of software that you download to your teen's cell phone. It automatically updates her Facebook and Twitter pages to let her friends in her network know she's driving and not available to talk. When people call or send texts, the software sends an automatic message saying she's driving. "That's awesome. I think we all should have it," said mom Sara Broars.


Think of TIWI as a backseat driver with batteries. It's an in-car monitoring computer that offers instructions and corrections as your teen drives. If she speeds, the automated voice lets her know. If she makes a sudden stop, it tells her. It costs about $600, plus a $30 per month service charge.

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39 comments so far | Post a comment now
Bill December 3, 2009, 9:57 AM

Thanks for the DriveCam mention. An important correction - the price of $899 includes purchase of the device, installation, ands one year of service (after which it’s $30/month). That works out to $75/month during the first year. Your article says it costs both $899 and $75/month which isn’t correct. This feedback program can save a lot more than it costs - when a teen has an at fault crash or a couple of moving violations, the insurance premium cost can go up from $2000/year to $3500/year. Thanks!

c December 3, 2009, 10:05 AM

I always believe (for everyone, not just teens) that the more gadgets there are in a vehicle, the more distractions and the distance between personal responsibility and driving widens.
While some gadgets are convenient in the case of an accident (such as these on-star type devizes) many are superfluous and will never replace what good Drivers Training will do. These courses should be mandatory to anyone applying for a lisence, and I believe should include regular follow up courses. We need our drivers (especially new) to know that mom will not always be able to watch you and tell you when you are speeding/are irresponsible and that you need to be able to recognize these on your own and correct them. If a driver is not able to use good judgement and cannot be trusted without these gadgets, then maybe they should not be driving on their own just yet.

Jim Chapple December 4, 2009, 2:37 AM

I have been working on a device to help improve driving safety. It is based on research done by Staffordshire County Council (UK) and Oren Musciant at Ben Gurion University (Israel). It uses an ipod touch or iphone and should be available from the App Store within the week. It will cost $0.99. Like the keychain device it uses the accelerometer in the device to monitor the driving of the user. It alerts the user about unsafe driving by changing the color of the screen to amber or red or in extreme cases black.
The research found that just by warning the driver using color changes the number of unsafe driving events are halved.
The App allows for sensitivity changes so that as the driver gets better the sensitivity to acceleration, braking, etc can be increased.
You can monitor your progress by comparing journeys against your previous journeys using the Chart.
The App is called ‘Driving Monitor’

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