New device helping teens be safer drivers

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by By DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 4:50 PM

Video: New device helping teen drivers be safer

SEATTLE - A new study shows technology could help teens be a little safer behind the wheel.

It's a sobering statistic that 16 to 19-year-olds are four times as likely to be involved in fatal crashes than older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The good news is that a new monitoring device, coupled with involved parents, could make a difference.

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Kellogg participated in the study.

"I used to drive like a maniac," he said. "I would speed pretty much every day going to school."

In the study, cars driven by teens like Tyler were equipped with a GPS and satellite modem to transmit data showing when they speed or brake sharply. The data was then posted on a Web site for parents to review. In some cases, parents were emailed results.

The study showed that teens were much less likely to take a risk when they knew someone was watching. For Tyler's mom, Paige, it is a useful tool.

"He was able to understand it was computer technology monitoring his behavior rather than me," said Paige Tyler.

But the study also suggests that technology alone cannot replace parents' involvement.

"If teens don't think that their parents are paying attention to the information on their driving, over time they are going to be less cautious," said Anne McCartt of the Institute for Highway Driving.

However, with parental support, more than 80% of the teens in the study said the device made them better drivers. Tyler says it worked for him.

"Now, I'm much more controlled and much safer," he said.

Beyond monitoring devices, another proven way to reduce the number of fatal crashes by teen drivers is for states to offer graduated license laws, with strong restrictions on nighttime driving and teen passengers.

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