A GeekDad Goes Low-Tech With Teen Driving

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In the very near future we will have our first GeekTeen driver in our home. One with a full driver’s license instead of the learner’s permit that is presently being carried. So, we’re faced with the task of adjusting to this new milestone in life, and working through the technological advancements that have sprung into the marketplace since the GeekMom and I were teenage drivers. We wonder, just because the technology is there, is it necessary?

I’ll start right away with saying that I do not want to be a
helicopter parent. We’re working through the new rules we will have for when, where and how our GeekTeen will be driving.

We are choosing to base this on trust instead of basing it on data collected through the different technologies that can be attached to vehicles. So we’re not installing the GPS tracking devices in our cars and sitting watching a web-page update with vital statistics.
We’re also not installing the in-vehicle cameras. I could only shake my head when my insurance agent sent me a link to TeenSafeDriver
– it’s a helicopter parent’s dream:

The Teen Safe Driver Program uses a small device placed behind the rearview mirror of your teen’s vehicle. It captures the view out the front, and into the interior, of the vehicle but never saves any data UNLESS activated by an erratic vehicle movement – extreme braking, cornering, and acceleration or if there is a collision. When the device is activated, it saves an EVENT comprised of the previous ten seconds and the following ten seconds showing not only WHAT
happened but WHY it happened.

The event is transferred wirelessly to
DriveCam’s Event Analysis Center where the video is reviewed, scored and coaching tips are added. Parents and teens log in to a secure Web site to view the video and tips for safer driving. Teens are coached for improvement in problem areas, and also praised for good driving events.

Now, the budding conspiracy theorist in me goes down the path that this information would also be stored on myself and my wife if we were to make “erratic vehicle movements” and our insurance premiums would be adjusted accordingly.

We know that mistakes will be made. We know that this is a learning process with (potentially) much more serious consequences, however a driver’s license is a privilege rather than a right. The GeekTeen will have new-found powers, and our holding the driver’s license if there are problems is our new-found weapon in helping teach responsibility. We’ve got just a couple more years before the
GeekTeen is off to college, and we want the GeekTeen as prepared as possible for living life apart from us.

Some of the other things we’re doing (and we know some will disagree with our approach) is that we’re allowing the GeekTeen keys to the car as long as the GeekTeen has enough money in a bank account to cover the insurance deductible. Should there be an accident, the
GeekTeen will pay the deductible, need to still have enough to cover the deductible in the bank and in addition will have to pay for the increased insurance premiums.
At any time there isn’t money to cover these items, the license is ours until such time as there is.

So, what about you – the ones who have survived teen drivers without benefit of technology – what were some of the rules you put in place to make sure your kids were safe (or safer) behind the wheel of the car? And for those that don’t yet have teen drivers, are you going to deck out your car with the latest and greatest technologies?

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