Local News

Black box lets parents track teen drivers

Posted June 20, 2011 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2011 6:55 p.m. EDT

A GPS unit installed in a vehicle allows parents to track the driving habits of their teens.

— Technology now allows parents to always ride shotgun with their teens and keep track of their driving habits from home.

A GPS box installed in a vehicle can let parents know where their teens are and where they've been and provides email alerts when the vehicle makes a sudden stop, accelerates quickly, takes a hard turn or exceeds 70 mph.

"If they're going around a curve going 60 mph when it should be 45, how would you as a parent know that? Well, this type of device will give you that type of data," said Stuart Lamm, president of GPS Mobile Solutions.

Another device would let parents block their teens from texting or making a cellphone call while driving, Lamm said. When the vehicle is moving, the phone locks down, unless the parents allow specific numbers to go through. When the car stops, the phone unlocks.

"Distracted driving is such a big deal with teenagers," Lamm said.

The GPS technology costs about $250, plus a monthly fee. The cellphone blocker runs about $90 and has an annual fee.

Joe Earhart invested in the GPS technology for the truck his 16-year-old son, Mason, drives.

"There's a lot of anxiety there, watching your son drive away for the first time," Earhart said.

The black box beeps inside the truck whenever an alert is sent, and Mason said that makes him more aware of his driving because his father knows what's happening.

"He's already getting one alert. I don't want him to think it's a constant bad driving habit," Mason said.

The teen said he sees pluses and minuses to the technology, noting that he doesn't appreciate the emails his parents get about his driving, but he likes that the GPS will alert them if he's in a crash or when the truck needs maintenance.

"It's not really having a parent here critiquing and instructing. It's more of a reminder," he said.