Apps for Monitoring Teen Drivers

Teen Driver

With a growing industry of high-tech smart phone apps and innovative handheld GPS tracker systems, companies are capitalizing on the newly developed technologies to make the road a safer place. Teen drivers are among the most vulnerable to serious car accidents due to their inexperience behind the wheel and youthful enthusiasm and companies are marketing these new smartphone apps and vehicle plug-ins to their parents.

Ultimate Defensive Driving in PittsburghSome argue that these intrusive monitoring systems are an invasion of privacy, while others contend that parental controlled driving devices for teens is a great idea. Whether this technology will be the slippery slope for government intervention and remote monitoring of all drivers is still yet to be seen, but in the meantime, many parents are praising the ability to supervise their child’s driving habits while not in the vehicle personally.

Although teen deaths from car crashes have declined in recent years, seven teenagers a day die in car related accidents on average. Speeding was a factor in 33% of fatal teen car crashes in 2011 according to a report by Governors Highway Association.

Since most teens nowadays have their own smart phone (which is most likely paid for by their parents), it makes sense that teen drivers could potentially be monitored by their parents when driving. Teens in vehicles with monitoring devices were shown to take fewer driving risks than unsupervised teens according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

What are your thoughts on GPS trackers and monitoring devices for teen drivers?

Teen Driver with Parent Supervision


OnStar Family Link: Available through the OnStar emergency communications system on General Motor’s vehicles, Family Link is a service that allows vehicle owners to see the location of their vehicle on an online map. OnStar markets Family Link as a means for parents to track the whereabouts of their teen drivers. OnStar is available on all new cars from GM.

Travelers Insurance IntelliDrive: This plug-in device will record the location and driving history of a vehicle, including how well the car is driven. Policyholders earn discounts up to 30% based on their mileage and driving skills. Parents can get a weekly report on their teen drivers including speed, acceleration, braking, and driving hours. Parents will also be notified via text or email whenever something abnormal happens or the car goes outside the boundaries set by the parents. Currently, IntelliDrive is only available in several states (Pennsylvania not being one of them), but they are looking to expand their market.

Progressive’s Snapshot: Similar to the IntelliDrive system, Progressive’s Snapshot is a plug-in device that offers personalized rates to policyholders based on their driving habits. Snapshot records how the driver accelerates and applies the brake as well as how many miles are driven daily and at what time of the day. Although Progressive’s Snapshot isn’t marketed toward teen drivers, it could be implemented by parents to monitor their teen while behind the wheel.

Cellcontrol: This device blocks all cell phone use while in a car when inserted under the vehicle’s dashboard. A text or email alert is sent to a designated administrator if Cellcontrol is deactivated, misused, or removed. Cellcontrol is currently available on BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Mobile 5 and 6.


RoadReady: This powerful app is an extension to The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program. Sponsored by Ford Motor Company, RoadReady recently became available to parents of teen drivers just in time for National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct 20-26). The RoadReady app allows parents to track and log driving experience during the Learner’s Permit process.

AT&T DriveMode: This free app for AT&T, BlackBerry, and Android users will send automatic “out of office” replies to texts and emails when in a vehicle moving faster than 25 mph. The app also sends incoming calls directly to voicemail. DriveMode is intended to ensure that drivers are not distracted by their cell phones when operating a vehicle.

Sprint Drive First: This app allows parents to be in control of their teen drivers by setting the parameters for their in-vehicle connection ability. Similar to the DriveMode app, Drive First will detect if the vehicle is in motion and send auto replies to text messages and direct incoming calls to voicemail. The app is intended to help improve driving habits and reduce distractions.

Steer Clear Mobile: This app focuses on teaching teens proper driving technique. After completing the Steer Clear course, the teen driver is eligible for insurance discounts from State Farm. Steer Clear Mobile is currently only available for the iPhone.

Safe Driver: Another app only available for the iPhone is Safe Driver. Safe Driver is designed with parents of teen drivers in mind and it monitors the teen’s driving habits, including speed and location. If the young driver exceeds the designated speed limit, it notifies the parent via text or email alert.

Text Arrest: This app is another one that shuts down phone functions while the vehicle is in motion. Text Arrest is a free app available for Android devices.

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