For teens needing a little extra supervision, consider monitoring software. Check with manufacturers if you're in the market for a new car—Ford's MyKey limits speed and radio volume and provides seatbelt reminders, while General Motors is experimenting with Family Link, which can track a vehicle's location in real time. Or install yourself a device like Car Chip (carchip.com), which monitors speed and driving tendencies and lets you learn what happened in the event of a crash. Also ask your insurance company, which may offer reduced rates for vehicles with tracking software. American Family Insurance's DriveCam (teensafedriver.com), for example, can capture a teen's risky driving behaviors (swerving, hard braking and sudden acceleration) and provide parents with a detailed report.What's to Come
Cars with minds of their own? Sort of. In the next five years, Intelligent Vehicles will use car-to-car communication systems to alert drivers of impending accidents. Expect to hear a collision warning when you veer out of your lane, or at a blind intersection if you're about to pull out into an oncoming car. Numerous automakers are working with the U.S. government to install these safety-enhancing Wi-Fi sensor systems.
FACT: The crash rate for teens ages 16 to 19 is four times that for older drivers, mostly due to immaturity and driving inexperience. That's why it costs more to insure them.
Originally published in the November 1, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.