Driving Between the Lines

By | Parent's Corner | No Comments

I am about four months into teaching my teenager how to drive, and she still really struggled, until recently, with driving squarely in the middle of her lane. She could usually stay in her lane, mostly, but she was rarely, if ever, in the middle of that lane. I would think it had gotten a little bit better and then I’d hear myself saying something crazy like, “Do you feel those bumps we’re going over?” as we hit every little white reflector for about half a mile down the road between our lane and the one to the right of us. I would wait as long as possible to point it out if no one else was on the road, thinking any second she was going to try to correct it, but she just seemed to ignore it. Was she doing it to mess with me?

I first noticed it when we were practically driving in the gutters. She always hugged the right side of her lane, never the left, which I guess was good when oncoming traffic was involved, but when we were moving down the road to her high school at 45 miles per hour I found myself bracing for the impact and the potential flipping of the car. I mean, that could happen, right?

Last week my daughter was reading her driving materials and stopped to read a paragraph of it out loud to me. The topic was something about how parents tend to overestimate their teen’s ability to drive well. She snickered. “You are not quite there yet, Mom.” She claims that I’m really nervous and scared the whole drive. That might be true, but it wouldn’t be if she would just drive down the middle of the lane.

A couple weeks ago I was catching up with some mom friends who are also teaching their teens to drive. One said that staying in one lane was a problem, but after a couple months it just went away and her daughter got the hang of it. Another mom told me that it was a huge problem for her daughter so they took her to the eye doctor. It turned out she had an astigmatism that interfered with depth perception and that once they got her in glasses the problem was instantly solved! Hmmmm.

I finally took my daughter to her first vision appointment ever. It was weird because I was kind of hoping that vision was the problem, easily fixed with glasses, but I was also hoping it wasn’t. I mean, who wishes vision problems on her children? In the end, the outcome was a relief of sorts. She has 20/30 vision which is pretty good and can be corrected with a light prescription for driving, but there is nothing going on, vision-wise, that is making her hug the right side of her lane.

After a little research, I found out that sometimes new drivers tend to hug the right side of the lane because they try to center themselves in the lane, not the car. Interesting. I’ve also started making her look further up the road while she drives. I took for granted that she would do this while driving because it is something she definitely does when riding her mountain bike. I’ve also angled the side mirrors down a bit so she can peek at where she is in her lane and that seems to have helped a bit too.

Now that she’s consistently in the middle of her lane she’s insisting on driving on the freeway. I don’t know if I’m ready for that …

Save 50% on DriveBetter! These savings disappear with Halloween!

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Tesla Infotainment Center

Infotainment Systems Create Increased Distractions for Drivers

By | Safety | No Comments

One more distraction to worry about in the car and this one is front and center. The fancy new infotainment center takes drivers eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially dangerous periods of time.

The AAA studied 30 new 2017 vehicles and measured the time and mental effort required to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation, all while driving down the road. The drivers were distracted for up to 40 seconds. Taking your eyes off the road for only 2 seconds doubles the risk of a crash.

“Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president, and CEO.

Driver Distractions Levels

The vehicles were rated from Low to Very High Demand. Low is equivalent to listening to the radio. While very high demand is equivalent to trying to balance a checkbook while driving — yikes! The AAA recommends all infotainment systems reach a only require a low demand.

Very High Demand

Of the 30 cars evaluated, none of the generated a low demand on the driver’s attention. 40% of the cars generated a very high demand, which equals more distracted drivers. This list included very popular vehicles such as the Tesla S. The most distracting vehicles were also the most expensive with an average MSRP of $40,000. However, it also included some more base vehicles such as Mazada 3 Touring ($20,445 MSRP).

High Demand

High demand vehicles including 11 vehicles (36%) with an average MSRP of $31,500.

Moderate Demand

Only 7 vehicles were rated as moderate demand (23%) with a MSRP of $29,500.

Low Demand

0. Zip. Nada.
If you want a less distracting vehicle maybe stick with an older model without the giant screen in the center console.

The Data

We have linked all the data below from the original AAA study and includes the MSRP and category added by DriveBetter.

Very High Demand (Really, Really Distracting Vehicles)

  1. Audi Q7 QPP
  2. Chrysler 300 C
  3. Dodge Durango GT
  4. Ford Mustang GT
  5. GMC Yukon SLT
  6. Honda Civic Touring
  7. Honda Ridgeline RTL-E
  8. Mazda3 Touring
  9. Nissan Armada SV
  10. Subaru Crosstrek Premium
  11. Tesla Model S
  12. Volvo XC60 T5 Inscription

High Demand (Really Distracting) Vehicles

  1. Cadillac XT5 Luxury
  2. Chevrolet Traverse LT
  3. Dodge Ram 1500
  4. Ford Fusion Titanium
  5. Hyundai Sonata Base
  6. Infiniti Q50 Premium
  7. Jeep Compass Sport
  8. Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
  9. Kia Sorento LX
  10. Nissan Maxima SV
  11. Toyota Rav 4 XLE

Moderately Distracting Infotainment Systems

  1. Chevrolet Equinox LT
  2. Ford F250 XLT
  3. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  4. Lincoln MKC Premiere
  5. Toyota Camry SE
  6. Toyota Corolla SE
  7. Toyota Sienna XLE

My Daughter’s First Drive With DriveBetter

By | Parent's Corner | One Comment

When I first heard about DriveBetter I read all about it. Then I explained it to my kids. “Isn’t this cool? It tells you where you made mistakes in your driving. You can look at it after your drive and see how you did.” I got very little reaction.

My 15-year-old got her permit three months ago and despite summer vacation, we’ve had few opportunities to get her behind the wheel. When the DriveBetter hardware arrived I plugged it into my car and announced, “Ok, I think it’s set! Want to go for a drive and see how it works?”

The first words out of her mouth were, “Why? So you can track me?”

First of all, she’s 15. She has to ride in the car with me or another adult. She’s learning. She’s being “tracked” with or without DriveBetter.

Second of all, she’s glued to her phone. I have plenty of ways that I could track her if I wanted. And if I did want to track her I would not announce it to her.

So I explained it to her again and told her I would drive around with it for a while so we could “track” my driving and she could see what it was all about before I subjected her to it.

Turns out it’s painless. I forgot it was even in the car. I went from errand to errand for a couple days and then opened the app to see how I was doing. Whoa! I wondered if there was a way I could erase some of my driving before I showed my teen how my driving was graded. I tended to stay just above the speed limit frequently, and apparently, I made a few sudden stops. Each drive gives you a score between 1 and 5. I’m happy to report most of my drives were 5s, with a 1.6 tucked in there to remind me to take my time the next time I have to pick both kids up from school.

Then it rained. And rained. And rained. I thought I would never get her behind the wheel again.

Finally, this weekend, my girl got behind the wheel bright and early on a Saturday morning. She drove on familiar roads, crossed a highway, and then merged in light traffic on Southwest Parkway before reaching our destination. Her score: A wonderful 4.7.

It was fun looking at the trip together and figuring at where she might have lost the .3 points. At the end of that drive, she wasn’t weirded out by the app or the fact that it pointed out mistakes. She thought it was cool like I did.

We didn’t get another chance to get her behind the wheel all weekend, but we’re both looking forward to the next drive. Maybe this will help reinforce good driving habits for both of us, especially knowing that we’re BOTH going to be seeing the scores the next time I open the app.


Getting a Drivers License Post-Graduation Could Impact Teen Driving Safety

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This time of year high school seniors and their parents are only focused on one thing – graduation! After 13+ years of classroom activities, hours of homework and countless tests seniors have finally earned that coveted diploma.

But more and more high school graduates haven’t earned their driver’s license yet. The University of Michigan has been keeping tabs on teen driving rates for decades, and their research shows the rate of high school seniors with driver’s licenses has dropped from 85.3% in 1996 to an all-time low of 71.2% in 2015.

Upon first glance, this may seem like a good thing. If teens wait two or three extra years they’ll be more mature, right? Plus, parents don’t have to worry about how their kid is performing behind the wheel at the tender age of 16 years old.

However, in the long, run teens that delay getting their driver’s license may be at an increased risk of getting into an accident.


Why Teens Are Putting Off Driving

Teens have all sorts of reasons for delaying their driver’s test. A 2013 USA Today survey found that 18-19-year-olds are more likely to cite the following reasons for not having a license:

  • Too busy – 56.6%
  • They get rides from others – 40.4%
  • Prefer to bike or walk – 24.2%

The survey does point to the well-known fact that Millennials are more likely to opt for a home in a walkable area than other generations. Another 2012 survey by the AAA Foundation found that 39% of 18-20-year-olds without a license felt they could get around just fine without one.

Another interesting reason that was revealed in the AAA survey was that drivers education played a role for many young adults. Of those who didn’t have a license before high school graduation, 28% said it was partly due to drivers ed courses and 26% stated the cost of drivers ed being too expensive. This is often the case in states that have stopped offering drivers ed programs through public schools.


Drivers Ed and the Effects of Delayed Teen Driving

In the state of Washington, they’ve noticed the same increase in young people waiting until they’re 18 or older to get a license. Since 2004 Washington saw a 41% increase in 18-21-year-olds getting their learners’ permit. But the Department of Licensing points out 18-21-year-old drivers are actually riskier than 16-17-year-old drivers.

The department’s data shows that on average drivers who wait until 18 or older to get a license receive about three times more citations than people who start driving at 16 years old. After analyzing the data of drivers between 16-25 years old who had only been driving two years, Washington’s Department of Licensing found that 16-year-olds (permitted at 15) had the least traffic tickets.

Why are high school teenagers the better drivers? Experts say it comes down to more restrictions and oversight. In order for a 16-year-old to get a drivers license in Washington, they must have a permit first and pass drivers ed courses. People who are 18 and older just have to pass a test to get a drivers license.

Clearly, when teen drivers take the time to learn proper driving skills it’s reflected by their performance on the road. Another study from the University of Nebraska backs this up. The study found that teens who take drivers ed courses are much less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Those who haven’t had any sort of training are 75% more likely to get a traffic ticket and 24% more likely to be in a fatal or injury accident.

At DriveBetter we understand that learning to drive should be fun! That’s why we developed a driver monitoring system that makes teaching teens to drive easier on kids and parents. Our teen driving app uses data from the vehicle to give your young driver a safety score and suggestions on how to improve their driving habits. Sign up today and pay just $10 a month (including support for multiple drivers and vehicles). DriveBetter is an affordable way to help coach your teen driver even when you aren’t in the car!

Discover how DriverBetter helps improve teen driving safety by building good habits!

Where Would a Tracking Device Be on a Car?

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One of the most common questions we get is, where would a tracking device be on a car? While some vehicle upgrades are expensive and complicated to install, OBD devices like DriveBetter are a snap to put into place.

Let’s take a look at what an OBD port is, why it’s important if you want to track driving and how an OBD device is used.


What is an OBD Port?

The on-board diagnostics (OBD) port, sometimes called the OBD-II port, is a component of virtually every vehicle produced after 1996. The on-board diagnostics system tracks every move and emission your vehicle makes. It’s the same system that will trigger the check engine light if a problem is detected.

Like your neighborhood mechanic, you can take advantage of OBD technology with the right tools. The OBD system works by using diagnostic trouble codes (DTC). The codes indicate certain performance measurements and functions as well as where a vehicle travels. Devices that connect to a vehicle’s OBD port are able to interpret the diagnostic trouble codes and convert it into useable information.

Because OBD-II systems are standardized, it’s possible for companies like DriveBetter to develop consumer tools that can tap into all of the knowledge stored inside your vehicle’s diagnostic center.


Where to Put a GPS Tracker in a Car

The DriveBetter OBD driver monitoring system is designed to be easy to use so you can quickly swap it out between vehicles. Easy installation also means teen drivers don’t have an excuse for not using the device.

OBD devices plug into place in seconds. The trick is you have to locate your OBD port. If you’ve never used one before, you may be wondering where to put a GPS tracker in a car. Many people think it needs to be connected to the engine, but the OBD port is actually much more accessible.

In most vehicles the OBD port is located under the dash on the driver side just below the steering wheel. Of course, the OBD port location is going to vary slightly depending on the make, model and year of the vehicle. For instance, the OBD port in a 2004 Honda Accord is just to the left of the steering wheel in the driver’s kick panel. But in a 2014 Chevrolet Equinox, the OBD port is directly under the steering wheel near the hood release lever.

Check out this DriveBetter demo video for a look at how easy it is to plug our OBD device in and get driving.

The OBD port is a small rectangle that looks similar to an HDMI port. It’s usually black but could be gray or white. Once the DriveBetter OBD device is plugged in it will start gathering data and creating reports that can be viewed on your smartphone.

Our OBD monitoring device works with most vehicles models that were made after 1996. Cars, SUVs, Trucks – they should all be compatible.


Want to make sure your teen is driving safely?

Use the safe driving app and OBD device that’s teaching teens to drive better one ride at a time. Get the DriveBetter driver monitoring system for just $10 a month!

Talking With Your Teen About Underage Drinking

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Ten Tips On Talking With Your Teens About Underage Drinking

Teens whose parents talk to them about drinking are much more likely to be safe and to make good choices than those whose parents never address the subject.
Alcohol is the number one substance of abuse for teens. You have the power to influence your teen’s choices about drinking, so get talking.

    1. Make it a conversation, not a lecture. When you talk with your children about drinking, listen to them and respect what they say.
    2. Take advantage of everyday “teachable moments.” Use everyday events in your life to point out things you’d like your child/teen to know about.
    3. Talk about peer pressure. Brainstorm with him/her on a few ways to navigate tricky social situations. Rehearse and repeat different scenarios like school dances and graduation night. Try questions like, “If your friends are drinking at the party, how will you handle it?”
    4. Be clear about expectations. Remember your teen needs boundaries and rules
    5. Discuss Why Not. Be honest and share the facts about alcohol, and be open to discussion and questions.
    6. Discuss laws about underage drinking, including the age 21 law.
    7. Remain open. Friends and life situations are going to change. Make sure your teen knows you are available to talk w/o judgment.
    8. Keep your emotions in check. Chances are you are going to hear something you don’t like. Try and keep your cool. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
    9. Choose a neutral location. Kids often feel more open to discussing “tough” topics when you both are engaged in other activities; cooking together, watching a show together or spending time together outdoors.
    10. Empower them. The more decisions you allow them to make for themselves, the better choices they are likely to make in the real world.

Remember when they ask you about why you enjoy drinking your favorite wine or craft beer, ask them to point out the differences between you and them. Important differences such as height, weight, etc. and internal organs that are fully developed. Remind them how their taste and likes/dislikes change over time as their body matures. Matures, being the driving word!

Happy Parenting & DriveBetter!

Helping Your Teen Know Their Vehicle

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Helping Your Teen Know their Vehicle

Congratulations your teen has passed their driving course. You might be feeling excited, nervous…scared — or a jumbled feeling of all three. Don’t worry, this is totally normal. In addition to you accompanying your teen on the road as they hone their skills, help your new driver become familiar with his/her car:

  • Pumping gas

What type of fuel to select at the pump
Where the gas cap is located
How/where to pay
Safe practices at the pump
Setting a good rule of thumb on when to refuel

  • Keeping track of maintenance schedules

Discuss vehicle stats like the make, model and where the VIN is located
Have him/her read (at least skim) the vehicle’s owner manual
Discuss the type of oil the vehicle uses
Mileage and preferred location for an oil change
How to check the vehicle oil level
Adding windshield washer fluid
Discuss or share relevant smartphone app

  • Learning how to check tire pressure and adding air when needed

Where on the vehicle the recommended tire pressure and tire size is located
How to check the pressure
How to inflate tires to the recommended tire pressure

  • Jump-starting the car

Location of jumper cables – the use of jumper cables is not for a vehicle that has an electronic ignition system or an alternatively fueled vehicle
Where the vehicle’s battery is located and how to access it
Practice where to place the cables and safety guidelines

  • Knowing where the jack, lug wrench, and spare tire are and how to use them

Recommend a local tire dealer or service garage for assistance
The size and location of the spare tire and how to remove it
Discuss a safe place to pull off the road and where the hazard lights are located

Why this is so helpful

Educating your teen about their car means they hopefully won’t be that person who runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere because he/she drove around with a nearly-empty tank, the one whose tire blew out because he/she forgot to check the pressure, or ignored vehicle warning lights.

Expert Picks – The Safest Vehicles for Your Dollar

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Expert Picks – Safe and Affordable Vehicles for Your Teen

With 2017 knocking on your door comes the feeling of a new, fresh year.

Perhaps buying your Teen a vehicle is part of your New Year plan?

Cars and trucks come with many new or improved safety systems to help drivers avoid a crash.

Newer safety features include:

  1. Closing in on a car too quicklyForward-collision warning, with or without an auto brake, is on top of many car shoppers wish list.
  2. Changing lanes into an unseen car Blind-spot warning and rear cross traffic alert are available and a real eye-opener. This is a top rated safety feature by folks at Consumer Report.
  3. Backing out – Whether it be your driveway or the grocery parking spot. Backup cameras are more common on newer vehicles. Backup cameras could become standard on all 2018 vehicles.
  4. Driving distractedLane departure warning alerts you when your vehicle’s wanders out of your lane, helps keep you straight!

While all these safety features are incredible and extremely beneficial, the reality for most parents is buying an additional car is a financial decision. Buying a new model year or even a one or two-year-old vehicle might not be in the budget. With this reality in mind, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of budget-friendly used vehicles with critical safety features for your new teen driver.

IIHS’s picks are broken out into two categories:

Best Choices: Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $20,000
Good Choices: Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $10,000

Furthermore, the IIHS’s recommends purchasing a vehicle for your teen be based on four main principles:

  1. Steer clear of high horsepower vehicles.
  2. Bigger, heavier vehicles may provide better protection in a crash.
  3. Consider Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This feature helps maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads.
  4. Your vehicle should have the best safety ratings possible.

Note: There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.

IIHS recommends at a minimum your vehicle also include:

  1. Good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test
  2. Acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test
  3. Four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The list and recommendations are a guide to help you buy a vehicle with both safety and affordability in mind for your teen / high-school / college driver, whatever your budget.

Happy Shopping!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Top Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Top Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

Winter arrived early for a lot of folks in the U.S. even though the “first” day isn’t technically until December 21, 2016. As temperatures continue to drop it is important to have your vehicle ready for your everyday commute and before you embark on any road-travel plans.

Top Tips:

  1. Prioritize any scheduled, routine maintenance/tune-up for your vehicle.
  2. Check the battery or ask to have the battery checked by your mechanic. Replacing the battery or making system repairs, including simple things like tightening the battery cable connections is important this time of year.
  3. Check your windshield wipers (especially the driver side), wiper fluid and defroster for all perfect working order.
  4. Inspect your tire pressure and age of your tires. Properly inflated tires save lives! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure, which accounts for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year. Your vehicle manufacturer posts the recommended tire pressure on your vehicle either near the driver’s door jam, on the glove compartment door or in the owner’s manual. It is recommended that you do not inflate tires to the maximum pressure molded onto the tire’s sidewall.
    Should you need to purchase new tires either due to wear or age, NHSTA recommends checking out www.safercar.gov for tire ratings. You’ll need to ensure the tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. It is also important to have a spare tire, ideally a full-size spare.
  5. Keep a car safety kit in your vehicle that includes some cold weather supplies such as; jumper cables, gloves, flare, water, blanket, extra vehicle fluids, working flashlight, basic tools, cell phone charger and an extra set of winter clothing.