DriveCam of San Diego and American Family Insurance have teamed up and developed a teen driver safety program utilizing DriveCam technology. DriveCam has been used for some time in fleet vehicles, ambulances, and taxi cabs, but this added dimension is directed at reducing costly teen automobile accidents that occur primarily because of young drivers’ inexperience and overconfidence.
According to American Family agent Glenda Hofteig, 70% of 16-year-old drivers are involved in an automobile accident within the first year of having their license. Although most of their accidents involve property damage, many also result in injury and death. Accidents are rare when a parent is with the teen, but when driving alone or with peers, the number of accidents increase significantly. Most teens stop wearing seat belts when driving without a parent too.
Pilot programs using DriveCam at two Mankato, Minnesota high schools showed positive results. They not only cut potentially unsafe driving practices by 70%, they also prompted the teen drivers to use seat belts. The camera doesn’t automatically record whether a driver is buckled up, but once the camera is triggered to record, it will also show if seat belts are in use.
How it Works
A small camera is attached to the windshield behind the rearview mirror. There’s a lens pointing both inside the car and out in front. The camera will record and save both audio and video, but will not trigger unless the driver does something erratic or unsafe such as quickly speeds up, brakes hard, swerves, bumps hard against something, or crashes. The DriveCam camera will record only the 10 seconds before and after the incident. The audio will report noise, such as blaring music.
The driver or parents can go to a password-protected web site any time and check to see if there’s anything recorded. If something has happened, they can see not only what occurred, but why or how it might’ve been prevented. The only people who can view any recordings are the parents, the teen registered for the program, and a DriveCam employee. The insurance company does not see the recording.
At this time, American Family will pay for the DriveCam for one year. According to agent Hofteig, “The idea is that if you have something like this in the car, it should establish good driving habits that stay with them.” For anyone else wanting the DriveCam system in their car, the cost will be about $70 per month, plus a $100 installation fee.
Although some parents and teens are reluctant to have a camera in their vehicle, the hope of American Family and DriveCam is that a reduction in the number of accidents and near misses will prove beneficial enough to eventually encourage more families to participate.