Overt or Covert?


The last time I suggested something like what Tom and Ray have suggested here in this forum, I got bashed for it. The main gripe is that “If you don’t trust your teenage driver, don’t hand her/him the keys.” and “If you can’t trust a teenager to drive right, you haven’t done your job.”

What do you think? Is this a useful too for parents or a replacement for good parenting?

It’s tough to say one way or another. As good a job as a parent might do, the peer influence is hard to over come. Also, other than safe vehicle operation, there are some things I just don’t want to know and glad I didn’t find out till my kids were grown and out.

Speeding or going where you don’t want them to, are far from the only dangerous things that teens might do with a car. It seems to me that installing this device might make them think that they only have to worry about those two things.

Speeding or going where you don’t want them to, are far from the only dangerous things that teens might do with a car.

Can you list some examples of what you mean?

According to the manufacturer’s web site, the product Tom and Ray recommend (tiwi) “mentors teen drivers in real-time by providing in-vehicle, verbal feedback to the driver when they are speeding, not wearing their seatbelt [sic.] or driving aggressively.”

What if the device could also detect hard acceleration, hard braking, and taking corners too fast?

I think that the best tools for a good teen-age driver are trust and respect. The teenager needs to respect his or her parents to earn the parents’ trust. When I was growing up, my dad was quite busy and put in long hours. Money was also tight. When I got my driver’s license, I was expected to keep the family cars maintained. Prior to the time I got my license, I was expected to keep them washed and clean on the inside. After I got my license, I handled the maintenance and small repairs that I could do, and took the car to our trusted shop for jobs I couldn’t do. Every so often our trusted mechanic would say, “You should have been able to figure this out without running up your old man’s bill. Why aren’t you using your head?” When my younger brother came along, he did the same thing when he got is license. We knew we had to take care of what we had and stretch the dollars as far as possible.
I had the same relationship with my son. He isn’t mechanically inclined, but he was always a good driver. He drove his grandfather (my dad) everyplace grandpa wanted to go while he was alive. I will always believe that the best tools are respect and trust.

Teen drivers learn habits from their parents, whether the parent’s realize it or not. So mom and dad are always yakking on the phone or texting, so they think it’s ok to do so.

“I think that the best tools for a good teen-age driver are trust and respect. The teenager needs to respect his or her parents to earn the parents’ trust.”

I agree. I also agree with bscar in the following message (teens learn habits from their parents). But teens are STUUUPID. Their brains aren’t developed enough to connect their foolish acts to the potential consequences. This really is a development issue, not an excuse. Girls finally get that frontal cortex thing going by 21; boys are clueless often until 25. Read “Why Do They Act Like That?” by David Walsh for a good explanation. I can tell you from personal experience that I did some astonishingly foolish things in a car when I was under 20 that I would never do again. What, didn’t you? If not, you chose another way to show your startling lack of judgement. Everyone does because we all were young once - I’m certain we all know what “young once” means. How should parents react to this reality? I’m not sure. I won’t put this device in any car my kids drive until they show that it is necessary for their safety. And I’m not sure when I would arrive at that conclusion. I respect your opinions bscar and Triedaq, but we are not dealing with rational people.

Can you list some examples of what you mean?

I think he might be saying it lacks a function to tell you when the car was parked, at the end of some dirt road, for three hours with the front seats reclined.

Just a guess…

While I realize that obeying the speed limit means 100% safety, and exceeding it by even 20% is unbelievably dangerous, I have irrational fears about at least the following.

  1. Following too close.
  2. Failure to yield when required or just wise.
  3. Texting while driving.
  4. Drunk driving.
  5. Failure to signal (both turns and lane changes.)
  6. Driving too fast for conditions (even though it might be under the speed limit).
  7. Passing in a non-passing zone or other unsafe situation.
  8. Behavior that induces road-rage responses in others.
  9. Road-rage.

Tardis, just like a human body, when you do certain things with a car, there are unintended tell tale signs. For example, people who follow too close often brake hard and brake more often than those who leave a safe distance. The same goes for those who instigate road rage, pass in unsafe conditions, drive drunk, text, and fail to yield. Tell tale signs of aggressive driving like that would show up in the recorded data as heavy brake and throttle use.

The device I mentioned above prints out a report, which you could compare to the weather report to make the determination for yourself whether or not your child was driving too fast for conditions. The software knows what the speed limits are on on-ramps and off-ramps. If the driver was doing all of these things, a there would be obvious signs of it in the data, on the child’s driving record, and on the car. With this device in use, you would have to be totally oblivious to miss it.

Oh, I made my share of stupid mistakes. One of our family cars was a 1952 Dodge with the “lift and clunk” Gyromatic. If one floored the accelerator, it would drop down into a lower gear for passing. I floored the accelerator more than was necessary and managed to break the linkage at the base of the carburetor. The Dodge was “an old ladies” car and wasn’t to be driven agressively. Our trusted mechanic knew how I had been driving. He chewed me out then sent me out in his service truck to pick up a base for the carburetor and some parts he needed. He did give me a break on the labor since I had picked up parts he needed for other cars he was fixing. I thought I was really bright when I tried to replace the brushes in the generator of the 1954 Buick that we owned. I managed to internally short the field coil. The generator ran wide open and threw solder everywhere. I paid for a rebuilt generator–set me back $12 which I paid for out of my lawn mowing earnings.

I did learn a lot from our sometimes grumpy mechanic and also from an appliance repairman that would let me watch what he did and explain to me what he was doing and how the appliance functioned.

In many ways, growing up in a family where we didn’t have a lot of money was a blessing. My brother and I learned to do a lot of things ourselves. We always had a big garden and my mother canned and froze vegetables and I did a lot of hoeing and cultivting. To this day, I still raise a garden, but we eat or give away what I produce.

I think covert driver monitoring systems are insane from a legal standpoint.

You are going to wind up being liable for what your kid does as a minor on your insurance. If you’re recording when he gets in a wreck, that evidence can (and will) be used against you. Don’t create problems for yourself by putting this junk in your car.

But I see nothing wrong with you secretly tailing the little hellion a few times to see if he’s behaving himself :wink:

I’m sure that it would also indicate when there are children in a neighborhood playing in the street making it unsafe (for the kids anyway) to travel at the 25 MPH speed limit.
I’m not saying that this device won’t tell you about some problems. I am saying that it won’t tell you about nearly all of them. If you can’t/won’t see that, then there’s no point continuing this conversation.

Tardis, you seem to be awfully grumpy today. Did I say something that offended you? I freely admit this won’t solve every problem, but I disagree that it makes it useless as a tool.

So, what’s your point? Is your point that since this device doesn’t solve every problem, it is useless?

I didn’t think it was the perfect solution for every problem. I just think it can be a useful tool, especially (IMHO) if the driver doesn’t know it is there.

I hate to point this out, but that information is already being recorded in vehicles since '96, in the OBDII system, on most cars.

This device that is being talked about plugs into the OBDII port, and uses the information being shared through the ECU to record and monitor certain parameters of the vehicle operation.

If the kid gets into a wreck, all you simply do is remove the device, and keep it.
But that won’t prevent someone from hooking up another device to the OBDII port, and pulling the log from the car, anyway.

If you want this information restricted, you’re going to have to pull the ECU after the wreck, before anyone can download the information from it.


Not necessarily.

OBDII systems only record anomolies in the performance of emissions related systems and components. They don’t record vehicle speed, non-emissions engine operation (such as RPMs), and the like. The signals are there since the ECU uses engine speed and vehicle speed (VSS signals) to control emissions, but they’re not typically recorded. And GPS location is not recorded in most vehicles unless they’re “Onstar” equipped or a similar system.

“Black boxes” different from OBDII system, that record ongoing data about the “events” of vehicles may be in all new cars, but I’m not sure. There was talk a few years back of making them mandatory for analysis of accident data by manufaccturers, but I don’t know if that’s happened. I didn’t follow the discussions. As with operating signals, things like acceleration/deceleration (impact) and braking are available because they’re used in airbag systems, seatbelt systems and the like, but I don’t know if they’re recorded for posterity on all vehicles unless an anomolie happens.

And even the black box cars which record speed, acceleration, etc, don’t record what the driver was doing at the time of the wreck. They can’t tell that your teen was on the cell phone, eating a burger, playing with the GPS, and ogling the cute girl in the car that he hit 15 seconds later. And all of that stuff, if it gets captured on video, will hurt you in any litigation that happens.

And BTW, if you “simply remove the device and keep it” and get caught, you’re guilty of spoilation of evidence, which means that not only will it count against you in the civil litigation, but you’ll be subjected to fines and jail time.

If my child was responsible for causing a wreck, I wouldn’t try to hide the truth. I would want to behave with honor and integrity to set a good example. I would want everyone to know the facts. Hopefully those facts would exonerate my child, but if they didn’t, we would live with the consequences like honorable people usually do.