GPS Car Devices For Teenage Drivers reports Car Insurance iNet
Why parents prefer children drive with GPS devices
Pilat, an insurance agent living in the Cleveland area, sells it was a tough sell to make to his daughter. "At first, she was absolutely against the idea,” he admitted. However, when he told her that the insurance-company-provided device, designed to track the mileage of low-mileage customers, would mean a sharp reduction in her share of the monthly premiums, she was more than interested.
Pilat explained, "I told her, imagine cutting your share in half. I'll give you the whole discount. . .That was enough motivation for her to say OK." Pilat says he thinks the device helped make his daughter a safer, more responsible driver; she has had no wrecks or citations since the device was installed two years ago.
Currently, there is a wide variety of GPS-based vehicle monitoring options available to parents of teen drivers. Devices range from smartphone apps, which alert parents when children are beyond the pre-set speed limits, to those such more similar to what Pilat uses. While some devices directly plug into the vehicle's onboard diagnostic computer, others are hard-wired by a professional into the automobile.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a 2009 study that involved 84 16- and 17-year-old drivers in the Washington, D.C. area. The study found that teens in vehicles equipped with these GPS monitoring devices drove more safely, taking less risks behind the wheel than teens who drove without the GPS monitors. Insurance carriers such as The Travelers that Pilat uses, provides discounts for consumers with permanently installed devices. Greg Toczydlowski, president of Travelers Personal Insurance, stated, "It's a terrific method to help parents have good and effective coaching with their teenagers around safe driving.”
IntelliDrive, Travelers' mileage-based discount program, uses a palm-size GPS device that fits into a diagnostic port. The devices are usually secured under the steering wheel in vehicles made since 1996. The program features a secure website where parents can view driving data and history and is currently offered in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia.
Currently, AT&T is developing a plug-in device that monitors driving behaviors, such as speeding, braking and red-light running the program, called Driving Safety, also provides real-time information to parents on a vehicle's diagnostics. This includes tire pressure or when the engine light comes on, and allows parents to restrict their teenager’s cell phone use while driving.
Mazin Gilbert, associate vice president for technical research at AT&T Labs, said, "AT&T is working across environments and devices to create holistic, cloud-based services that deliver the next generation of connected features.”
Woodrow Hartzog, a privacy expert and assistant professor of law at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, said that parents considering using GPS technology should make their decision "deliberately rather than haphazardly."
As Hartzog said: "I tend to draw comparisons between the parental use of monitoring technology for driving with the parental monitoring of their children's use of social networking. . . Young adults are notoriously protective of their privacy. I think the best way to approach the situation is to have a conversation with them if you want to use the technology. It would set a dangerous precedent to employ this technology without letting the children know."
Hartzog also said that he had several concerns when the devices are used in conjunction with an insurer, or when the information collected is stored. He questioned, "Is it going to negatively affect my rates? How else is the information going to be used? Who else is going to have access to this information? That also applies if you are using an Internet service. Is the information being stored in the cloud somewhere?"
Despite these concerns, Pilat stated that he himself had no privacy concerns when it came to Jennifer. He stated what initially drew him into IntelliDrive was the significant savings, with a 25% annual decrease in car insurance prices.
"I was interested in the discount. . . I told her, I don't intend to be watching you. I'm not a helicopter parent,” he explained. “If I didn't trust you, you wouldn't have my car."
He did note that the device did instigate precautionary conversations with Jennifer after he and his wife, Diane, saw instances where their daughter’s maximum speed was getting faster on a few trips. He said, "It brought us together to have the conversation about it, so I could say, I notice your top speed is creeping up a little bit. You should probably watch your step a little bit."
Overall, Pilat believes that the GPS device has shaped Jennifer into a more mature and cautious driver, especially when she has her friends in the car. He commented, "She would always tell us if her plans were changing because she knew we would be able to tell if the car strayed from where she was supposed to be.”
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