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When it comes to turning over the car keys, let's be honest... either you trust your child, or you don't. And if you don't think your child is mature enough to make responsible choices, then all the gadgets and gizmos won't matter.
But somehow, insurance companies want you to think they're helping you with yet another electronic leash to tug. Esurance’s program, DriveSafe, is a telematics device that installs into the onboard diagnostics port on any vehicle built after 1996 except hybrids and electric vehicles. Parents then download the DriveSafe app on teens’ smartphones, and the app can track driving habits via Bluetooth and lock out certain functions while the car is moving.
Does that work for you?
USA TODAY's Chris Woodyard reports that it also can alert parents to risky habits like accelerating too quickly, braking hard, driving past curfew, driving too far from home or speeding. And talk about speeding: Esurance’s online overview depicts an alert that one teen reached 79 m.p.h. on a 25-m.p.h. zone of San Francisco’s Arguello Boulevard.
Most of us would think these alerts would raise insurance rates, but Esurance promises the data will not affect anything. In fact, the company claims it never sees the data; a third party hosts the information collected, which “will never be shared with Esurance.”
Parents can block certain smartphone functions while the car is moving such as use of social media apps, text messaging, e-mail or web browsing, but still allow teens to receive calls from Mom and Dad, dial 911 or access Bluetooth hands-free functions.
Esurance spokesman Danny Miller says if teens remove the DriveSafe app, turn off Bluetooth, power down their phones or otherwise block access to the app, parents will get a notification. Miller expects Esurance to finalize agreements with Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to offer the program “sometime in the first half of 2014.” He insisted that Apple doesn’t allow any app to block texts: “No third party application can block iPhone functionality,” he said. “That’s not an issue that’s particular to us; that’s across the board. You won’t have any sort of similar offering that will prevent folks from using their iPhone.”
Do apps like DriveSafe give parents a false sense of security? Do they raise the anxiety levels of teen drivers who need to keep calm and focused? What do you think? Should parents be anxious to use these things, or do they postpone the point where kids need to grow up and face the consequences of their actions all by themselves?