At Marks Law Group, we understand that teaching teens to drive in the age of the smart phone is no easy task. As a community-oriented law firm, we want to help both parents and teens comprehend the risks behind teenage driving.
One risk factor stands out most prominently as one of the greatest risks involved in teen crashes and subsequent injury and death: teen cell phone use.
Thankfully, using a cell phone while driving is also one of the easiest risk factors to mitigate through education, communication, and vigilance.
Our Three-part Series on Keeping Teenage Drivers Safe includes:
This is our final installment on supporting teens and their families as they establish safe driving habits aims to provide families and teens with information on apps that seek to prevent tragic teen automotive accidents.
We have researched these apps for safer teen drivers and divided them into two categories:
The apps below work with just your cell phone and its GPS and accelerometer to determine where you are, how fast you are going, etc. These apps need cell coverage to work.
harness the power of your cell phone’s GPS and accelerometer to measure and track speed, location, and other local information. Because they do not require additional technology or components, they are especially simple to get started using. While they do not offer as much information as the apps and plug-in adaptor combinations mentioned in the next section, they often end up providing enough information to be very helpful.
Safe Driver is a free app that uses the internal GPS locator systems and accelerometer in your teen’s cell phone monitor to track your teen driver’s speed, acceleration, and location any time your teen fails to comply with the “set-points” the app allows parents to set.
A relatively low-frills option, Safe Driver tracks “acceleration, braking, cornering and speed” and notifies parents via text or email when their teen is driving outside of acceptable parameters. The app reports the set point the driver exceeded, “the time of the infraction, and how long the set point was exceeded.”
Another free option, TrueMotion is a relatively straightforward, no-frills app that gives parents a few useful settings to customize in order to encourage safer driving habits for their teen drivers.
TrueMotion uses the phone’s GPS to allow parents to virtually tag along with their teen’s trips, monitoring their speed, route, and location. Parents can set up their own rules – like no texting while driving, no speeding, etc. – that TrueMotion will use as triggers to communicate with parents if teens fail to comply.
Parents can also set a perimeter within which teens can drive, the speed they’re allowed to drive, and when they should be home.
Drivers get a grade at the end of each trip to let them – and parents – know how safely they drove and how well they complied with traffic regulations.
Unlike most safe driving and cell use apps that simply block all incoming calls, texts, and emails, DriveSafe.ly is a completely hands-free app for Android and Blackberry users that still allows drivers to receive calls, texts, and emails.
Like the apps we mention above, DriveSafe.ly is free for users. However, it sets itself apart from the crowd by allowing drivers to receive and respond to text messages and emails by reading them aloud to drivers in real time and then automatically responding based on voice commands without requiring drivers to touch or even look at their phone.
Further, it is a good compromise between the do-not-disturb options available on many phones and a fully functional cell phone that is both tempting and distracting. This app enables drivers to stay both focused on their driving and connected.
By solving the problem of texting while driving, DriveSafe.ly can minimize distractions and keep drivers’ hands and eyes on the road where they belong!
If you like the idea of allowing your teen to stay connected while driving while also minimizing potential distractions, but you also want to finetune your control over what kinds of connectivity and interaction your teen can have while driving, Text Limit might be just the app for you.
This free app allows you to customize your teen’s connectivity while driving, enabling texts, calls, and emails that you predetermine to come through. Beyond that, you can customize the speed at which connectivity occurs – you choose how fast your teen must be driving before they’ll lose connectivity and how slowly they must be going in order to regain it.
Beyond enabling parents the ability to manage their teen’s connectivity, Text Limit also offers the option to track the location of the phone and provide and share speeding or other alerts when your teen breaks any traffic laws.
The free DriveSmart app aims to alleviate parent fears about distracted driving by engaging directly with teen drivers. The app encourages safe driving habits by providing reminders (like reminding the driver to buckle up) and by providing drivers with a rating for each drive in a number of different categories (speed, sudden braking, etc).
Because teens get feedback directly related to the actions they have just taken, they are more likely to learn from and apply these lessons the next time they are behind the wheel.
DriveScribe is an app that encourages safe driving habits and helps drivers make new ones — all with the incentive of earning points toward gift cards! The app blocks calls, emails, and texts while in use to help minimize distractions. It then uses the phone’s location to determine whether the driver is obeying traffic laws and how the driver’s habits compare to other nearby drivers.
If the driver breaks any traffic law, an alert goes off and provides drivers with suggestions for how to be a safer, more compliant driver in the future. At the end of each drive, drivers receive scores and earn points for not violating driving laws.
Like Drive Scribe, Drive Alive is a rewards-based app that monitors your teen’s driving habits, encouraging safe, focused, observant habits by rewarding them with the opportunity to earn cash or discounts by being safe drivers.
This app is different from Drive Scribe in that it does not do as much coaching.
RoadReady was developed specifically to track a new driver’s progress during the permit phase of learning to become a safe and proficient driver. Because of how effectively it tracks the different driving conditions the driver encounters – like road type, weather condition, routes, etc – it takes the guesswork out of supporting your new driver and reassures parents that the driver is in fact ready to embark on their own.
Like other apps, this one offers suggestions for safer driving, and it “logs their driving time, in order to demonstrate satisfaction of the time behind the wheel requirement many states impose before licensing can legally take place.”
RoadReady is a “component of The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program, which was a recipient of the US Department of Transportation National Roadway Safety Award.”
Two further options offer more features by combining the capabilities of monitoring your teen’s driving habits via their phone with an in-car adaptor, usually plugged into the car’s diagnostics port. Because the adaptor is plugged directly into the car’s computer system, it has access to much more information than apps that rely only on a phone’s GPS and accelerometer.
While Automatic is pricey – the app costs $79 and the adaptor costs $99 – all of the benefits may justify the upfront out-of-pocket expenses.
Automatic’s app offers many of the monitoring and tracking features seen in the apps above. It silences incoming texts, emails, notifications, and phone calls while your teen is driving.
Like a number of native options many cell manufacturers are offering, the app can enable your teen’s phone to respond automatically to incoming texts with a notification that the driver is driving and will respond when stopped.
Where this app stands out is in the information gathered by the adaptor. It will inform you of any mechanical codes, provide you with suggestions for more fuel-efficient driving, and tell you precisely how many miles are left on your tank of gas.
More helpfully, though, Automatic will notify emergency services in the event of an accident, sharing the location of the accident and keeping the call center officials on the line with both the driver and emergency services until help arrives.
Similarly, Cell Control relies on a windshield-mounted device called DriveID and an app, but unlike Automatic, it communicates via BlueTooth so that it works whether there is a cell signal or not.
The CellControl app and DriveID device cost $129. The app and DriveID do not rely on GPS but instead use the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic computer to detect and track motion, speed, etc. like many apps listed above. It will also disable the cell connectivity, but unlike other apps, only the driver’s cell, tablet, or laptop will be disconnected, leaving passengers to use their devices.
At Marks Law Group, LLC, we are committed to supporting accident victims and families, but we are also dedicated to helping Georgia families stay safe!
These three posts in our series on safe teen driving arm families and teens with tools to make driving exponentially safer for new and young drivers.
If, in spite of this, your family experiences the unimaginable loss or catastrophic injury of your teen as a result of the negligence of others, there is restitution and a path forward for you and your family. At Marks Law Group, LLC, our Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you begin to pick up the pieces after a serious crash involving your teenage driver. We will carefully investigate and build your case meticulously. Call us today at (678) 251-9309.
*Please note that we have researched these apps for your convenience, but we have not tested them. We are also not sponsored by any of these apps in any way.