Technology has made being a parent really stressful. These days you have to worry about cyber bullying, online predators, screen addiction, bad decisions posted online that will live forever, and so on. And if you have a teen driver, you're even more worried about technology distracting your teen AND about all the things that could go wrong while they are driving.
But sometimes technology can help you win at parenting with very little effort. Telematic devices, which are gadgets that plug into vehicles and report back to you, can give you peace of mind and can give you the information you need for making sure your teen is making good decisions while driving.
These devices plug right into the vehicle's OBD port which is usually located somewhere on the dash or under the steering wheel (all vehicles since 1996 have an OBD port). Some newer vehicles even have built-in monitoring devices.
Telematic devices can tell you lots of valuable information about your teen's driving habits like:
- their location
- when they hard brake
- when they accelerate unnecessarily quickly
- how much fuel they use
- if they go outside a set boundary
And depending on the device, there might be other cool features that can come in handy like crash detection that will send emergency services, roadside assistance, and lost key/car unlocking assistance.
Here are some popular telematic gadgets you might want to use for your teen driver or any other driver in the family.
*Note – many of the devices require a monthly plan and some of them have similar features to tracking apps that may be cheaper alternatives.
- Cost: $67 for the device and $8 per month
- Roadside assistance is also supposed to be free.
- Reviews of this device are more consistently positive than those for other devices. Many of the negative reviews come from people who were disappointed that the device did not work when the vehicle was off or that it was not discreet.
MOTOSAFETY GPS TRACKER
- Cost: Device is $99 and $19.99 monthly fee
- Provides a daily and monthly report card rating your teen's driving behavior.
- Can possibly be eligible for an insurance discount for using, according to their site.
CAR LOCK ADVANCED
- Cost: Device is $40 and costs $9.60 per month
- In addition to monitoring speed, acceleration, and hard braking, it also monitors sharp turning.
- Monthly report card
- Can alert an emergency contact if a crash is detected
- Will also monitor your battery health and alert you if the device is removed
- Cost: Device is $78.99 and there is a $29.99 activation fee, but there is no monthly fee for first year
- You can also add Roadside Assistance for $20 a year.
All of these can be found on Amazon. One thing we saw consistently in reviews is that it takes some time for the gadget to sync to your car. So they might not work perfectly in the first week or two. Many buyers also say there is sometimes a lag between an event and when you actually get the alert that could be from 30 minutes to even the next day.
Still, these plug-ins can give you information to use when talking to your teen about safe driving. And sometimes just knowing they are being watched will is enough motivation for teen's to make good decisions.