Special Report: Tech tools to keep teen drivers safe - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Special Report: Tech tools to keep teen drivers safe

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Teen drivers are three times more likely to die in a crash than adults.

Parents of teen drivers know the fear that comes with sending them out on the road alone for the first time, but new technology is helping parents keep tabs on their young drivers, even whey they cannot be in the car.

Some parents have installed dashboard cameras, similar to those in police cars, inside their young drivers' cars. Some cameras even have systems that start recording only when the driver does something deemed unsafe.

"It gave me the comfort to let him start driving alone," said Catherine Gabell, who installed a camera in her son Jeff's car.

Video from the camera is sent to a professional, who forwards it with his advice to Gabell. Jeff says he was not happy about the camera at first, but thinks it has made him a safer driver.

"You know that if you screw up they're going to catch you and it's going to get reported," said Jeff. "It's a good thing I think. It's helped me."

The in-car camera system and professional advice cost about $900 per year.

Another option available to parents is known as ‘geofencing.' The technology uses GPS data to determine the speed and location of the vehicle. If a teen driver goes too fast, or exits an area specified by parents, they are notified.

"It can actually let the parent log onto a website and see where the car is," said Carroll Lachnit of Edmunds.com.

Some car manufacturers incorporate geofence technology into their vehicles or offer it as an add-on service for a few dollars a month. Aftermarket geofence devices can run several hundred dollars.

For parents on a tighter budget, there is a low-tech option. Parents have begun slapping "how's my driving?" stickers with their phone numbers on the bumpers of their teens' cars.

"It could be that just having that phone number on a bumper sticker on it, on the back of a car, might give a teenager pause before they do something they shouldn't be doing," said Lachnit.

Some say these methods go too far, and invade the privacy of young drivers. But Loretta Worters, Vice President of the Insurance Information Institute, says it is all about safety.

"It's not a matter of not trusting them but a matter of improving their driving skills," said Worters.

Copyright 2013 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

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