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Can technology help make teens safer drivers?

Many Los Angeles readers (and drivers) can speak from personal experience as to the dangers of texting while driving. This type of distracted driving is associated with thousands of accidents in year and can be deadly in some cases. When it comes to teen drivers, using a cellphone behind the wheel is both common and extremely dangerous, leading many to believe that all technology should be banned from the front seat.

Many insurance companies and safety advocates agree and have supported the texting and general cellphone bans now in place in most states, including California. It may come as a surprise then, that some are now looking back to that technology to find ways to help make teen drivers safer behind the wheel.

One example of this is an application developed by researchers at UNC's Highway Safety Research Center. The application works on iPhones and will soon be released for Android platforms, and it allows teens and parents to track driving practice while teens are first learning to drive. State driver's education courses do some of the work, but researchers have still found that many teens get their licenses without ever having been on the road in bad weather or at night. Some have even avoided driving on the highway.

The smartphone app helps parents and teens track driving activities while it runs in the background during car trips, and then allows them to enter notes about the experience and set goals for new challenges or skills that need work.

Another app, being developed by Esurance, disables texting functions while a driver is behind the wheel, taking away the opportunity for distraction or temptation from a ringing phone.

In the event of a car accident, it is important that drivers and passengers know what their rights are in terms of recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic harm that can come along with a crash.

Source: USA Today, "Honk if you love apps that protect teen drivers," Larry Copeland, April 8, 2013.

Information about the rights of injured parties after a vehicle accident can be found on our website.

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