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10 Ways Tech Can Help Crash-Proof Your Teen

The major concern of any parent with a new teen driver under the roof is that inexperience will lead to an accident.  It is a valid concern considering that more than half of all drivers who get a license at age 16 will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.  But with so many fantastic new tools at your disposal, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of a crash.  Here are just a few ways to do it.

  1. Navigation.  When you’re teen knows exactly where he’s going, he won’t be distracted looking for hidden road signs, helping him avoid needless fender-benders.
  2. Bluetooth.  With many states now adopting hands-free laws concerning the use of cell phones while driving, it behooves you to ensure that your car is equipped with Bluetooth.  At least provide your teen with a Bluetooth headset.
  3. Steering-wheel controls.  Having audio controls located on the steering wheel might not stop an accident, but it will ensure that your teen spends a lot less time leaning over to fiddle with the radio when he should be watching the road.
  4. Talk-to-text.  Although you may have to get a whole-car system (like OnStar or Sync) that includes this feature, it allows your teen to check and respond to text messages, emails, and even Facebook updates audibly so he need never take his eyes off the road.
  5. HUD.  Okay, so a head’s up display that holographically displays the gauges on the lower portion of the windshield might be a bit much.  But it’s just one more way to ensure that your teen’s eyes are always on the road, even when he’s checking his speed.
  6. Breathalyzer interlock system.  This handy little tool can be installed in your car to control the ignition system.  It requires anyone who wants to start the engine to blow into the breathalyzer.  If the blood alcohol level (BAC) is within the correct parameters (for a teen, that should be zero percent), then the car will start.  If not, your imbibing teen won’t be going anywhere.
  7. MyKey.  Ford’s programmable key system can be set to sound a chime when the car reaches certain speeds (65 mph, for example), but it can also limit the maximum speed of the car as well as the volume of the radio.  Great for parents; bad for teens.
  8. Blue Link.  Hyundai might not be quite as vigilant as Ford in controlling your teen’s bad driving habits, but they do offer some incentive for him to drive within limits.  If he drives over set speeds, after curfews, or outside certain geographic areas, you’ll get a call or text to inform you of his indiscretions.
  9. Driver Feedback.  If your teen has an iPhone, you’re in luck.  The driver feedback app from State Farm can track driving habits (like speed, braking, and cornering) with the accelerometer in the Apple device, delivering information on how your teen drives (complete with a map).  Make this app a condition of owning a set of keys.
  10. Online insurance payment.  Many states offer cheap car insurance to CA, but teen drivers are likely to pay the highest rates, no matter what.  By making your teen responsible for his own insurance, regardless of the cost, you can elicit a more responsible attitude when it comes to tooling around on the roadways.  To make it easy, help him set up an online payment through his bank (direct withdrawal monthly).
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