Tracking teen drivers

Technology is helping parents keep track of teenage drivers, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

From real-time GPS tracking systems to onboard cameras, technology is increasingly offering parents tools to track and even control how their teenagers drive. Many of the options are borrowed from fleet managers who have used them for years to monitor truckers and other commercial drivers.

With car crashes the No. 1 killer of teens, taking 5,000 to 6,000 young lives each year, many parents want to learn the truth about how their children drive.

Priced at $140, the CarChip “plugs into the onboard computer in most cars and records up to 75 hours of driving data.” Parents can remove the chip and download the data on their home computer.

. . . GPS-enabled trackers that instantly transmit information are becoming increasingly available. Some will even send text messages to parents if the car exceeds a certain speed or travels beyond a predefined area.

. . . The Sharper Image catalog even includes a GPS tracking device that it says “secretly tracks anything that moves–your car or your kid, or your kid in your car.” The monthly airtime packages range from $20 (for updates every 60 minutes) to $50 (for updates every five minutes).

Soon to come for all of us: Cars that won’t turn on if the seatbelt isn’t fastened.

About Joanne


  1. Hunter McDaniel says:

    “Soon to come for all of us: Cars that won’t turn on if the seatbelt isn’t fastened.”

    Just like 1973.

  2. They had the seatbelt interlock early on, but it was discontinued after it contributed to some rapes because women could not drive out of danger, and even some deaths because people cound not drive out of the path of trains.
    Love the car chip. Imagine fighting a speeding ticket or a failure to stop by playing back the record in court. I don’t know which thing to get first – the car chip, a back up camera or a talking GPS. My first car, a 25 Model T, had none of these goodies.

    — Walter Wallis

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Bless you! I was ready to pay $175 for a car chip when I saw your article. I shopped and got in for $120. Enough to buy a first edition of Son of Our School.

  4. One question I’d like to bring up: Is this a device bought by parents or insisted upon by the state?

    If the former, then I don’t see a problem unless said parents are using it on cars they don’t own.

  5. wayne martin says:

    This device is not too different than the “black box” that now can be found on many new cars. The field of “Telematics” will be emerging in the future to provide devices which will communicate with regional wireless networks so that before the dust has settled on a traffic accident, the direction of each care, the number of passengers, speed, likely damage and need for first responder assistance will be transmitted to the nearest 911 operator.

    The current devices aren’t as clever, but police have begun to subpoena their contents as they proceed with accident investigation. People employing this sort of “where’s my kid” technology can expect to have surveillance data collected by this chip demanded by the police, sooner-or-later, when circumstances demand.

  6. There’s a development kit available. Give a smart teen a few hours with it and he’ll figure out a hack. A few weeks and that hack will be for sale.

  7. Can anyone say “1984”? By all means, let’s keep an electronic record of everything our kids do. That way we can eliminate trust.


  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Trust, but verify.

  9. Wayne Martin says:

    Traffic crashes are responsible for 38% of deaths for 15-to-19-year-olds. Teen drivers have a higher crash risk than any other age group in the US, whether measured by miles driven or population.
    (Source: NHTSA – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

    If memory serves, the number of accidents in California for the 15-19 year-old age group is about 15%.

  10. Can anyone say “1984″? By all means, let’s keep an electronic record of everything our kids do. That way we can eliminate trust.


    TC –

    I can (and if these things were in different hands would) say “1984”. However, in this case I say let the parents toss this little hand-grenade and see how the whole parent-child relationship thing goes.

  11. Guess I’m from the old Leave it to Beaver generation. Say goodbye to Mom Saturday morning and not be home until the street lights come on. I just don’t like all this surveillance that we willingly let happen.