TodayApril 17, 2022

Tracking teenage drivers

Ferris Bueller’s day off Ferrari

Remember the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s day off” where Ferris Bueller and his friend borrow the Father’s Ferrari and take it for a quick spin?

Ferris: “Look, it’s really simple. Whatever mileage we put on, we’ll take off.”
Cameron: “How?”
Ferris: “We’ll drive home backward.”
Cameron: (as Ferris pulls out of the garage in Camerons Father’s Ferrari) “No, Ferris. I’m putting my foot down. You’re just gonna have to think of something else.”
Cameron: “Ferris! We could call a limo! One of those stretch jobs with the TV and the bar. How about that?”
Ferris: “Come on. Live a little!”
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tells us that teen drivers are more than four times as likely to be involved in vehicle crashes as compared to adult drivers. Sixteen-year-olds are at the highest risk.

Many parents are considering GPS locators to keep track of their children by keeping track of their car. In a research and statistic paper on the IIHS website the statistics were staggering, “Teenagers’ crashes and violations are more likely to involve speeding than those of older drivers, and teenagers are more likely than drivers of other ages to be in single-vehicle fatal crashes. Plus teenagers do more of their driving in small and older cars, and at night, compared with adults.

In 2004, 18 percent of teenager’s fatalities occurred between 9 pm and midnight, and 22 percent occurred between midnight and 6 am. Fifty-four percent of teenager’s fatalities occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.”

“For 16 year-olds, all these problems are heightened. The combination of inexperience behind the wheel and immaturity produces a pattern of fatal crashes among 16 year-olds that includes the highest percentage of crashes involving speeding, the highest percentage of single-vehicle crashes, and the highest percentage of crashes with driver error.”

Donna Gompert, Risk and Safety Manager for Road Safety International, Inc., (RSII) has four children. “My children range in age from 15-21 years old,” Gompert said she was a little biased about the Road Safety equipment since she worked for them, but she’s got years of experience working with teenagers getting their driver’s license and working with the road safety equipment. “Back around the holiday season of 2001, there were eight teenagers that were killed in a car accident in quick succession. Almost all of them were speed-related.”

For the last fourteen years, RSII has been helping “high risk” fleets reduce vehicle crashes by monitoring driver behavior and giving immediate, in-vehicle feedback if they start driving unsafely. Gompert talked about how that technology was used in the RS-1000 that she believes is helping save teenage lives.

The RS-1000 was just being built when Gompert’s first teenager got her permit. Her daughter was one of the original eight teenagers in the beta test for the RS-1000. The daughter thought she was helping her Mom. What RSII found out, to the dismay of Gompert, was that her daughter, with two months of driving experience, liked to drive in the 80s on the freeway by herself. Gompert lamented, “It was remarkable that she had such bad driving habit’s in such a short time.”

Gompert has found that teaching your children to drive with the RS-1000 already installed, “this way the teenager gets used to the tones and sounds of the machine and it’s like we’re still sitting in the car with them. When we hear the tone, we can download it and find out what it meant.” According to Gompert, the RS-1000 is focused on safety, not location. It is meant to clearly show the teenager where they are driving incorrectly. There are audible tones that get louder the faster you go, the more G-forces you use, the faster you accelerate and the more aggressively you take a corner.

If you have a 1996 or newer vehicle and $295 you can buy an RS-1000 (RS for road safety), road locator. You simply plug the RS-1000 into your vehicle’s OBD-II connector, generally under the vehicle’s dashboard. A memory card can be removed from the RS-1000 and data retrieved via PC computer loaded with the road safety software. The data can also monitor vehicle speed and excessive G-force maneuvers caused by hard cornering, hard braking, erratic driving, and “pedal-to-the-metal” throttle use. So, when your teenager says they got home by midnight, you can pull up the report and show them what time they really got home.

Gompert is working with her last teenager on their driver’s license, using the RS-1000 from the very start. In fact, “All but the oldest use the box in their car, she bought her own car. That is our deal, if you are driving our car, then there is a box.”What are some of the other steps parents can take to ensure that their teenagers are safe?

According to the IIHS, there are some steps;

  • Introduce a three-step graduated licensing;1. the supervised learners period,2. the intermediate license that permit’s some unsupervised driving,3. and full privilege license
  • Maintain the starting age at 16, or raise it to 16.
  • Require 30-50 hours of certified driving, some of which should be allocated to nighttime driving.
  • Limit teenage passengers to none or just one during some or all of the intermediate phase, absent adult supervision.
  • Consider an exit test to ensure competence prior to full-privilege licensure.
  • Include penalty provisions that delay graduation for beginners with poor driving records. How are states doing with a teenager driving standards? The states are listed below, with the score given to them by IIHS and what that score means at the bottom;
    Alabama / F
    Alaska / G
    Arizona / P
    Arkansas / M
    California / G
    Colorado / G
    Connecticut / G
    Delaware / G
    District of Columbia / G
    Florida / F
    Georgia / G
    Hawaii / G
    Idaho / M
    Illinois / G
    Indiana / F
    Iowa / F
    Kansas / M
    Kentucky / G
    Louisiana / F
    Maine / G
    Maryland / G
    Massachusetts / G
    Michigan / F
    Minnesota / M
    Mississippi / M
    Missouri / G
    Montana / M
    Nebraska / M
    Nevada / G
    New Hampshire / F
    New Jersey / G
    New Mexico / M
    New York / G
    North Carolina / G
    North Dakota / M
    Ohio / G
    Oklahoma / G
    Oregon / G
    Pennsylvania / G
    Rhode Island / G
    South Carolina / M
    South Dakota / M
    Tennessee / G
    Texas / F
    Utah / G
    Vermont / F
    Virginia / G
    Washington / G
    West Virginia / FKey: G=good, F=fair, M=marginal, P=poor; S=secondary enforcement.The grading for these grades was based on the following criteria, with the optimal provision to the right of the criteria.

    Minimum Entry Age: 16 years
    Learner Stage:

    Mandatory Holding Period: 6 months
    Minimum Amount of Supervised Driving: 30“50 hours
    Intermediate Stage Restrictions on Driving while Unsupervised

    Minimum Age: 16 years 6 months
    Unsupervised Driving Prohibited: 9/10 p.m.“5 a.m.
    Restriction on Passengers: (family members excepted unless otherwise noted): No more than 1 teenage passenger * Until age 18 17
    Minimum Age at Which Restrictions May Be Lifted

    Nighttime Restriction: Until age 18 Passenger Restriction: 17

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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