Distracted driving is a huge problem impacting roadway safety today. Whether you’re a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, you can be affected by an individual’s choice to text (or Snap, or Skype) and drive. Since you want your teenager to have his/her phone readily available in case of an emergency, simply banning smartphones in the vehicle is an unrealistic solution. Thus, companies and inventors are getting more creative and devising ways to use the same technology we already possess more proactively.
Many newer vehicles are equipped with extensive computer systems and sensors that can deliver a wide range of information to manufacturers, insurance companies, and even parents. On top of that, you can also plug in a separate device that provides details on speed, location, braking frequency, etc. Numerous auto insurance companies and wireless service/cell phone providers have created their own form of this technology, so it’s accessible for all areas and budgets. While it may seem a little “Big Brother” for some households, it also allows worried parents to instantly access their children’s whereabouts—just to make sure the young drivers are sticking to the agreed upon routes. It’s possible to establish geographical limits that trigger notifications to your phone, should your teen venture beyond the boundaries. If you’re worried about them honoring curfews, you set constraints for that too, and receive a text/call if they’re out past the allotted time. You can also access driving reports to check on their average speed and driving habits, so you can rest assured they’re not behaving recklessly in the car.
Knowing about poor driving behavior is one thing, but doing something about it is quite another matter. Fortunately, though, there’s an app for that—many apps, in fact. Most teens rarely let their phones stray far from their sides, even while driving. So, the temptation to use it, despite being aware of the dangers of distracted driving, will always be there. Rather than lecture them about it, you can actually limit their activities with the right technology. Essentially you can suspend all incoming/outgoing messages or calls, much like the Do Not Disturb function, but from afar. Their friends will get an automatic response to let them know your teen is presently driving, but it still allows other functions from the phone to work, like music or navigation. Should you like, you can extend these controls to the entire vehicle, not just the driver. With “driver zones,” the app or device can automatically detect who’s driving and who’s not, so they have to alternate in order to access social media or messages.
Keep in mind, the more control you want to have, the more you should be willing to pay. There are many free apps to help combat distracted driving, but those tend to provide more notification-based services than actual interference.