Car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for teens. And with the school year’s end and the start of summer, it’s the most dangerous time to be a teen driver.
But rather than just fretting at home, concerned parents can now monitor their teens while they’re driving.
That’s right: parents can see how fast their teen is driving, where they are and more at all times thanks to several different GPS devices and smartphone apps on the market.
Mastrack costs $100, and then $15 to $34 each month. MobiCoPilot costs $150, and then $20 per month. Motosafety also has a $20 monthly subscription fee, but costs $80 upfront.
Each is easy to install in the diagnostic port under a car’s dashboard.
"They do things like alert you if your teen is speeding, slamming on the brakes or really gunning the car," Consumer Reports expert Liza Barth said.
You can have the alerts sent to you via text or email, or view driving reports on the device's website. You can also see the vehicle's location and route.
Consumer Reports say all the devices worked well.
"Don't think of it as spying on your teen, but coaching them to be a better driver," Barth said.
Consumer Reports says the least expensive model, the $80 Motosafety, might be all you need. In addition to tracking, it lets you set a separate top speed for highway and secondary roads as well as set the hours of use. It also provides Android and iOS apps that let you see the car’s location and driving history.
Moving up to the $100 Mastrack or $150 MobiCoPilot gets you some other handy extras. Both will notify you if the car’s ignition is turned on or off, so you can see when your teen arrives at or leaves a location. And they alert you if the car is towed or has engine trouble or a low battery, which could require a quick response.
MobiCoPilot also lets you set the hours of operation, and Mastrack shows the vehicle identification number, so you can tell if the teen tries to, well, do a switcheroo.
Of course, before using any of these devices, be sure to explore the privacy practices of the companies. Make sure that you’re comfortable with how they treat the information that their products collect.
That way, you don’t waste your money.