Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Maryland can’t give away free cameras to monitor teen drivers

Posted by lapearce on June 17, 2009

It sounds like many parents’ dream come true: free in-car cameras for teen drivers that turn on and record when ever something sudden happens in the car: hard braking, avoidance, acceleration or a crash. The cameras, free from DriveCam, are designed to not just allow parents to monitor how their teens are driving, but to help teach their teens lessons that they haven’t yet learned. Along with the clips, tips are provided to help prevent the incidents from happening again. Despite the fact that the program is free (and even comes with a gas card for participating) the program  is struggling to give away all 300 cameras.

“We’re not exactly sure why. Of course the kids aren’t gung-ho about it — they think it’s a camera to spy on them – but we’re not sure why the parents aren’t buying in.” Said Christina Sinz, whose Washington Metro Region Highway Safety Office has only given out two cameras. Sinz has spoken to PTAs and distributed fliers with little success at finding more participants in the program.

Those who use the DriveCam cameras are asked to participate in a year-long study, paid for by a grant from the Maryland State Highway Administration. Even though all cameras have not been claimed, the program has already logged 11,000 to 12,000 events.

Debbie Jennings of the Calvert County Community Traffic Safety is having more luck than Sinz at giving away the cameras, and has 100 participants in Calvert County. “Most [parents] tend to be somewhat surprised by what they see going on in their teens’ cars… I’m also hearing from parents that this was exactly what they needed, that even if nothing is happening in the car, they have peace of mind.”

Jennings said that once teens learned that the videos weren’t going to be reviewed by the police that they warm up to the program, and many of them see the benefits. “The big picture is it’s meant to benefit more people than me … Hopefully, I can learn from [my father’s] mistakes and hopefully with this other people can learn from my mistakes.” said Mateo Williamson who is in competition with his father to see who can trigger the camera less on their shared car.

Parents in the program have been shocked to discover their teens not wearing their seatbelts, or driving with more people than they are supposed to. One participant said he would probably slow down becacuse the camera is in the car. That one move in the hopes to not triggering the camera and alerting his parents to his behavior will reduce the chances that he’s involved in a crash. Even though the program can be an eye opener for parents, and help teach teens safe driving practices, parents are still unwilling to participate. Why? Are they so worried about the repricutions of “spying” on their child that they’d rather increase their chances of a car crash?


One Response to “Maryland can’t give away free cameras to monitor teen drivers”

  1. […] combines technology similar to DriveCam with GPS and adds an online element. Parents can log in to the DriveSmart web site to see a report […]

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