With electric cars firmly in the market place and driverless car on the horizon, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that technology to monitor the behaviour of the driver is not only available but has become sophisticated.
Of course, basic tracking equipment to deter thieves and help to reduce insurance premiums has long been established, along with Young Driver courses being on offer for those under 17 years but technology to help parents keep an eye on their children’s car use is newer and already becoming part of new car specifications.
What type of reporting technology is available?
Some manufacturers offer the ability to pre-set controls to make the car safer for youngsters to drive. For example, Ford’s MyKey system – available on US and European cars – makes it possible to programme a key that, when used on the car, will make changes to the vehicle’s settings.
Top speed and maximum audio volume can be restricted, and the facility to deactivate safety systems such as ESC (Electronic Stability Control) can be overridden, which personally being a parent of a teen I think this is genius!
Surveys commissioned by Ford found that parents’ number one concern is their offspring speeding and that the MyKey system would make them more likely to let their teen use the car.
Of course MyKey doesn’t report anything, it just sets the car up to be safer for the teen to drive. Other forms of technology actually monitor and report back to concerned parents, allowing them to keep a close eye on performance.
General Motors in the US is poised to offer an optional system that complies a type of ‘report card’ of their teen’s driving, and sounds warnings if they’re driving too fast or too aggressively. The system will include:
• Audio and on-screen alerts using the car’s infotainment system when the car is travelling faster than a speed pre-determined by parents.
• Data showing how often speed limits were exceeded, distance covered, if and when the vehicle’s collision alert system was activated and more.
• The ability to disable the audio system until the driver and front passenger fasten their seat belts.
• A ‘report card’ available to view on the car’s infotainment screen and is only accessible by PIN.
Real time reporting
The above General Motors system doesn’t transmit real-time alerts to parents that can be monitored by a PC, say, but some third-party systems can. A number of tech companies provide units that can be attached to the car or apps that gather car use information accessible in real-time by parents on their computer, or maybe their smart phone or tablet.
Counting the cost
The signs are good that manufacturers aren’t charging the earth for systems that can give enormous peace of mind to parents. Indeed, the Ford MyKey system is standard even on less expensive models in the UK such as the top selling Fiesta range. The only cost is the key itself – and up to eight can be used per car.
At present, there’s not much concrete evidence to suggest that insurance companies might promise to lower premiums on cars fitted with such equipment but peace of mind might just be worth its weight in gold.
It’d be too simple to paint this trend as entirely negative for teens though. Not all young drivers are irresponsible drivers – and some may well welcome the opportunity to call their parents’ bluff, embrace the technology and take the chance to prove them wrong by driving well and showing off their new-found knowledge of the rules of the road.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post