How To Check-up On Your Teen’s Driving Habits

Guest blog post by Jason Lancaster of

If you’re the parent of a teenage driver, you’re probably already aware of some of the frightening statistics out there. Here’s one you might not have known: Teenagers, as a whole, represent about 7% of the driving population while accounting for nearly 14% of fatal crashes.

Teens are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal accident than the average driver. Single-vehicle accidents (usually caused by excessive speed and/or reckless driving) account for the difference. Simply stated, about half of teenage driving deaths are caused by reckless driving and/or excessive speed.

The good news is that modern technology has provided us with an easy and affordable method for preventing reckless driving behavior. They’re called GPS Tracking Devices.

As a side note, and for sake of argument, I’m going to leave the moral arguments about spying on your teen to someone else. Everyone should follow their conscience when it comes to using the tracking devices.

These devices can tell you where your teen has been, how fast they’ve been driving, and some of the more sophisticated units can tell you about dangerous driving (like fast lane changes, racing, etc.). The top-notch units can even send an alert to your cellphone when your teen is driving irresponsibly. Regardless of the features, all GPS tracking devices can be separated into three categories.

1. Data logging GPS tracking devices record position, speed, and in some cases dangerous maneuvers. Simple GPS data logging units are typically less than $200 and they are small enough to go unnoticed in any vehicle.

The downsides to these devices is that it can only record a few hours of data and it must be plugged in to your computer to read that data. The process involves installing a special software on your computer to download the information so that you can figure out if any reckless driving is occurring.

2. Real-time GPS tracking devices offer a lot of convenience. Instead of having to remove and upload data every few days, you have the device installed once and rely upon a web-based service to tell you all the information about your teen. These devices are usually sophisticated enough to track where your teen goes, how fast they drive, and a variety of risky driving behaviors.

Is your teen 10 minutes late? Get online and find out where they are. Some of these real-time GPS trackers can even send a text-message alert to your cellphone if and when your teen exceeds a certain speed and/or risky driving behavior.

The upsides are plenty, but the downside is cost: most of these units rely upon cellular phone networks to provide real-time updates, so you’re basically paying for a phone-line for your car. Service fees start at $15 a month and go up from there. The devices themselves aren’t cheap either. Expect to pay $250-$500, depending on features.

The good news is that these devices are often billed as theft deterrents, and they can often result in an insurance discount. Check with your insurance agent to be sure.

3. There are GPS-enabled cell phones that you can use to track your teen’s driving behavior (not to mention everywhere they take their phone). This system offers real-time tracking, they’re vehicle independent, and since they use the cellphone your teen already has, all you have to do is pay a monthly fee. As more and more cellphones become GPS-enabled, this certainly seems like the best choice. offers an inexpensive tracking system (not an endorsement, just a suggestion) worth checking out.

Finally, there’s an option that my father would have liked. Rather than purchase any of these systems, he would have casually left a printout for one of these devices in a place where I could “find” it. He would then lecture me about the dangers of driving fast and the fact that if he found out I was driving irresponsibly, I would lose my driving privileges. I would have put two and two together and determined that he might have hidden a GPS tracker in the car.

At least that’s what I hope I would have done.
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4 Responses to “How To Check-up On Your Teen’s Driving Habits”

  1. StewartAllyn
    November 24, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    I am considering getting a unit installed on my car, which my son uses most of the time. I do keep track of the mileage and did not get a good answer as to how he drove 43 miles and “just went to ????’s house and the mall”.

  2. John Feeney
    November 26, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    Ford & Mercedes will introduce 2009 models with this capability.

    We are moving into a new age of technology use. There will be continous questions about “privacy” but, it is the first step toward traffic control issues

  3. Vanessa
    November 26, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    ohh if he doesn’t know that you are tracking his car then you cannot say anything. But you can say that you are keeping log of mileage to lower insurance and that you will be checking the log, this might make him think twice about that.

    he was probably just cruising round with friends. you can also ask him why he is spending so much money on gas to go so close of places?


  4. Bob
    August 10, 2009 at 7:41 am #

    GPS Fleet Tracking Systems are typically used for business’s to track their vehicles but can be used to keep an extra eye on your vehicles activities

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