October 21, 2011

AAA providing devices to let parents track young drivers

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Cletus Nunes shows the message that parents get on their iPhone or other cellphone if the driver they are tracking leaves a pre-set boundary. Above is a screen shot from the password-protected website where AAA’s device will send information wirelessly.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski Staff Photographer

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“I don’t think it’s necessary. If you’re not keeping track of your kids on your own, that’s just silly. I think it would cost too much. We could be using the money for other things.” - Kelsey Foster, 17

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Any car made since 1996 has an onboard diagnostic outlet. The device plugs into that outlet, using the car's computer to monitor speed while using its own GPS to note location. The device sends wireless information that can be accessed by the parent on a password-protected website.

The device cannot yet determine whether a car is exceeding a speed limit in a given location, but it can record whenever the car exceeds a predetermined speed, and where and when it happened.

It can't tell whether other teenagers are in the car.

The parent can set boundary alerts so if the car enters or leaves an area, they are notified. If the device is disconnected, the parent is notified immediately.

The device also can be used by AAA to locate the car if it breaks down, Nunes said.

Each device costs about $150 to produce and $100 in air time, but Nunes said AAA believes it's a worthwhile investment.

"There's no catch. We feel strongly it's going to reduce auto crashes, and that's a good thing," he said.

Nunes said AAA will need a few years' worth of data before it can say definitively whether the device makes drivers less prone to accidents.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com


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“I think it’s almost like an invasion of privacy. It feels uncomfortable if your parents can know where you are every moment.” - Karl Rickett, 18

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“I find it just kind of awkward in general. They can just see whatever and know anything. I like some of it, like alerts for speeding – but not 5 mph over. I guess it would kind of depend on the parent and the kid.” - Eric DelMonte, 16

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