Xfinity Discovery Hub

February 08, 2019

Safer Driving: How to Monitor and Manage Your Teen's Phone Use While Driving

texting and driving

Have you ever used your phone to check emails, or send texts while driving? If you have, you know how difficult it is to leave your phone alone while driving a car.

You can only imagine how difficult it is for teens to resist the temptation to check their social channels and texts while driving. The fact that most rental car companies won't allow people under the age of 25 to rent a car (without a high daily fee) is very telling; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers under 25 have more accidents than any other age group.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of teen driver technology out there to help parents keep an eye on their teens and minimize distracted driving.

Location and driving monitoring

Today's smartphones make it easy to find and install cell phone tracker apps that let you keep an eye on your teen (and how often they’re using their phone) while they’re driving.

Life360 is a free app that tracks a cell phone's location. Download the app on your phone and invite family members. You can view the app to see where each family member is and how much battery is left on their phone. By setting up Places in the app, you’ll receive an alert when your teen arrives or leaves their high school, friend's house, the mall, their work, etc. Life360 also has a premium driving alert feature where you can view your teen's top speed, phone usage, crash detection, and other events.

TrueMotion is a free safe driving app that you set up on your phone and invite family members to join. Once they join, you will receive notifications on each trip they take. TrueMotion rates driving trips by scoring distracted driving, hard braking, high speed (essentially, how often one goes more than 10 mph above the speed limit), and dangerous times of day (driving between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.). Each driving trip is also given an overall score based on these factors. The most weighted part of the score is distracted driving, which tracks how often your teen handles his or her phone, sends texts, or uses apps. Both you and your teen can see the TrueMotion score for each drive.

If you prefer a little more control, Autobrain is an in-depth paid option that acts as a car tracking device for parents. You buy the $30 Autobrain device and put it in your teen's car. Then, a monthly $10 subscription gives you access to driving reports, crash notifications, assistance, and more. As a part of the service, up to four 24/7 roadside assistance services can be included to help your teen with tire changes, emergency gas fill-ups, and tows.

Hands-free assistance

Being able to monitor and track your teen’s driving habits is an important resource in your parental toolkit. Giving your teen the tools to help them with known potential distractions can mean the difference between safe and distracted driving.

DriveMode is a free app that gives teens (or adults!) the hands-free features of a built-in luxury media center. Using voice navigation, teens can obtain driving directions to their destination, whether it’s a friend's house, the movie theater, or a restaurant. They can also open and navigate their favorite music, hear incoming text messages (and verbally reply to them), and easily answer phone calls with their voice.

While Google Assistant and Siri can also help with hands-free navigation, music, and sending texts via voice, they are not as robust as DriveMode, which creates an all-in-one experience that makes it easier (and safer) to access your favorite apps while driving.

Car manufacturers are also jumping in to assist parents with teen drivers. New models from Ford, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and Hyundai have built-in features like these:

  • Automatic alerts for speed, location, and accidents
  • Assist with volume control
  • Features to ensure drivers are buckled in
  • Lane departure detection and automatic emergency braking

Most of these programs are included with the most recent models at no extra cost. You may already have some features available in your teen’s car. Check the owner’s manual or go online for more information. Additionally, Do Not Disturb, a setting available on both Apple and Android phones, keeps the phone from lighting up, vibrating, or making any noise when any notifications, alerts, or calls come through. Have your teen set their phone to Do Not Disturb before they get behind the wheel, so they aren’t distracted by their screen and keep their eyes on the road.

Safety and parental control apps are designed for your teen even when you aren’t with them. If your teen develops good driving habits now, they’ll stay for a lifetime. Start a conversation with your teen today about phone use, driving hazards, and safety tools to ensure they grow up to be a safe driver.