The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this deadly epidemic.
By Erin Ryan Goodnow
As the mother of two small children, I can only dream of the day when my kids can drive themselves to school, sports, a friend’s house or even the grocery store. The freedom seems amazing to me. But when I talk to parents of teenagers, I see a whole different, darker reality of teen driving. These parents are worried for their kids, and they have reason to be.
Teens age 16 to 19 are more than three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car accident, according to the CDC. A huge part of this problem is distracted driving.
Consequently, there are a plethora of apps and devices to install to a car and a teenager’s smartphone to stop texts from coming in, and some to rat on the teenager if they text while driving. Below are a few worth talking to your teenage driver about:
- Canary and DriveScribe: Canary sings like a bird (hence the name), or snitches, whenever someone unlocks their phone while driving. Same goes for exceeding the speed limit, talking on the phone or texting. You can also set up “geofences” where the driver is not allowed to go. DriveScribe has very similar functions, but you can also restrict texts and calls from coming through when the car is in motion.
- To take the temptation away, I like the sound of the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant application and Automatic link accessory. It is pricier than your basic app (about $200), but this system silences all incoming texts and phone calls when driving and can auto-reply that your teen is driving at the moment. There is also a crash alert that will call emergency services in, call you to inform you of a crash and stay on the line with your teenager. It also scores your teen’s driving and gives tips for improvement.
- For parents who need the full story to curb bad driving, Safe Driver for iOS sounds pretty serious. It sounds a bit like the Grand Prix, but the app will track acceleration, braking, cornering and speed. If your teen speeds or drives recklessly, the report to parents shows the time of the infraction, how long the infraction lasted, what vehicle was used and more.
There are so many lists featuring so many more apps just like the three examples here. So I can’t help but wonder, with so many apps available—many of them less than $20—why are teens still texting while driving? Why wouldn’t every parents install these precautions? Some are free for what they call the “basic” functionality. How much does that offer? Are they a pain to use? And why should these apps only be limited to teenagers?
On that note, I will be downloading a few of the less expensive apps and trying them for the next month. I’ll report back how they work…and how I drive.