3 ways to monitor your teen behind the wheel


When it comes to keeping teen drivers safe behind the wheel, there’s a growing arsenal of technology you can use to protect your most precious assets — your children!

Automakers are getting on board with some new measures to help protect teen drivers. The new Chevy Malibu will have a Teen Driver feature. Among the elements of this new feature are:

  • Volume limit with radio mute
  • Speed warnings when a teen exceeds a preset speed
  • Active safety features like automatically turning on the lane departure warning and the collision avoidance systems
  • An in-vehicle report card for parents to use as a teaching tool in discussion with their kids

So you as a parent set the rules with the Teen Driver feature and it’s like having a nanny in the car. There are buzzers that go off and a computer voice that talks to the kid to admonish them if they do something wrong.

I’m sure teens will hate this, but I just love it! After all, driving is the #1 cause of death in people between the ages of 12 and 25. The first 3 years a kid drives are the worst for possible fatalities. That’s because the teen brain isn’t fully developed yet, and driving is tough when you’re not mature.

I’ve been driving since around 1970. Whenever I’m in the car, there’s always something I notice that I could do better…even after 45 years of driving! So think about a new driver and the ‘oops’ they’re going to make. Don’t let that oops cost a life.

Here are 3 ways to keep tabs on your kids behind the wheel…

Get an on-board camera or other monitoring device

I’ve talked in the past about systems like DriveCam for Families, which offers in-car camera technology that can be remotely monitored. Monitoring costs are around $50 each month.

Now I’ve learned about another system called tiwi.com that offers seat belt alerts; speeding and aggressive driving prevention; immediate feedback about how your kid is driving; and the ability to set up SmartZones — which are geographic restrictions you identify. (If your kid goes out of the boundaries you’ve set, they’re notified that they’re caught, and you’re notified they’ve left the zone.) Monthly service for tiwi is around $40.

So it’s clear that none of this technology is cheap. You typically have to buy the camera, GPS or other hardware and then pay that monthly fee. You may get a break on your insurance if you jump through all the hoops. But even if you don’t, I still think this kind of monitoring is well worth it.

Use apps to prevent texting while driving

Trinity-Noble’s Guardian Angel is a paid app that shuts down phones when a vehicle is moving for $10 per phone per month. But I’ve read about a cheaper entrant into the marketplace. TxtShield sells for $1.99 and keeps you from using your phone while you’re driving, but it’s only for Android.


The way these things generally work is that when a car goes over 10 miles per hour, the app blocks emailing, texting, browsing, and even common calling. It only allows calls to 911. So basically, these apps make a phone inoperable while in motion.

There’s often an override for a passenger that requires someone other than the driver to go through an Attention Verification Test. The test is reportedly too complex to go through while driving.

Sign a parent-teen driving contract with your kid

Technology is all well and good, but sometimes you just need something old school to get the job done. For years, I’ve talked about a parent-teen driving contract that people still continue to ask me about. The one I’ve linked to here is adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Parent-Teen Driving Agreement,’ though you can easily find other ones when you do an Internet search.

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