Every day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 21 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted by cell phones.
For parents concerned about their teen texting and driving, technology may be the answer. Several new apps offer the ability to monitor driving behavior or even eliminate cell phone usage while driving.
Auto insurer Esurance is allowing policyholders to install an in-car device (free of charge) in their teen’s car that in conjunction with the Esurance app installed on the teen’s phone, can limit the use of text, email, app usage and phone calls while driving—with the exception of 911.
For those with a different insurance provider, there are other options available.
The Canary app is installed on a teen’s phone and parents will be alerted whenever their teens are texting, tweeting, or using Facebook while driving. It can also send an alert when teens are driving over the speed limit.
For parents wanting to know everything, the mSpy software app will “run in an invisible mode providing you with across-the board logging features so that you can remotely track all activity that takes place on the monitored phone.”
The MamaBear Child Tracker app alerts parents when their teen is speeding.
Rapid Protect offers a variety of safety tools. “If a user is driving over certain preset speed, their ability to send and receive a text message is blocked.”
Mobiflock "allows parents to block the use of certain apps and even shut down cell-phone functionality remotely." Parents can also put mobile apps on a timetable for when they can be used.
Those recommending apps recommend that parents talk to their teens about the apps rather than simply installing them without prior warning—perhaps making it a condition of getting a smartphone. And parents may want to consider using the apps themselves.
"Parents can be some of the worst offenders. My vision is that an entire family can use this,” said Jani Spede, chief executive of the Canary Project. “It's a way for everyone to have more awareness. You measure behavior and then you can change it and improve it.”