Apps allow parents to track their teen’s driving, helps start dialogue about unsafe driving habits

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(WTNH) — The CDC says six teenagers die every day in car crashes in the United States.

Parents worry about what their teens do behind the wheel, especially when they aren’t around. But now, with technology, you can track your teen’s every move.

This safety advancement is on that a mother in North Branford wishes existed when her son went for a joyride with his friends.

“You never really know your children. Parents think they do, but they don’t,” said Riordan.

Lynn Riordan learned that the hard way. Her 18-year-old son Matthew Piccuto only had his driver’s license for two months when he was driving down Totoket Road in North Branford. He lost control, hit a tree and died in May of 2009. News 8 interviewed her shortly after the crash.

“I did the best I could. He was a good kid, made good grades, was well loved,” Riordan said of Matthew.

The loss of her son, the older brother to three little sisters, is a weight the whole family carries.

Matthew had two other teens in the car on that tragic day. She still can’t believe he chose to drive 80 miles an hour down the windy country road.

In the 8 years since the deadly accident, technology has had huge advances with apps and devices that can track your teen’s every move.

“I didn’t think Matthew in a million years would make that choice, that he would risk dying. That’s what he did. He gambled for what?”

When it comes to tech and tracking your teen, from Verizon, it will let you know in real time if a teenager is speeding. You set the boundary and are notified instantly with a text alert.

The Hum device plugs right into the car’s OBD 2 port and with the free Hum app, a parent can set the parameters.

“We’ll put it at 64 miles per hour. Anytime we go over, text alert,” said Dave Weissmann from Verizon.

“This boundary alert, set new boundary, only allows us to go in town,” he said.

So we decided to put it to the test.

After every drive, ther’s a safety score. Part of that is braking, acceleration and hard stops.

The free Hum app detects the car is moving so it doesn’t have to be open on the parents’ or teenager’s phone.

“The last thing we want to do is distract. The goal is to make driving safer, especially teens.”

“Okay, I did a little speedy speedy on 95. Let’s see how that will work,” said Anne Craig.

Back at the station, it’s time for the report of Anne Craig’s drive. Through the app, you could see exactly where she accelerated. “That line in blue there is an indicator of the phone being used while driving and as for that hard stop I made, well the truth is in my safety score,” she said.

The best score is 100. “I got a yikes of a 55,” Craig said.

It’s obvious the app won’t stop bad behavior, but it’s for parents to open the dialog. The dialogue has always been there. This allows for it to be productive dialogue to track it, access score and to look for room for improvement.”

This is the last photo Lynn has of Matthew. She never thought her son would speed recklessly putting his and others’ lives at risk. Even though she trusted him then, she says she’d turn to tech now.

“I would encourage people to do it now. If matt, it was not characteristic of him at all, he would choose to do that, anyone would choose to do that,” she said.

Parents, do your research. There are many different apps and devices out there. Many of the apps are free. The devices that plug into your car can run anywhere from $30 and up. Insurance companies like Liberty Mutual offer those tracking devices and if your teen uses one, you can get a discount of up to 30-percent on their car insurance.

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