How connected cars could make driving safer for our kids

Kid car
By Chris Umiastowski on 13 Jul 2014 01:00 pm
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Most cars today are not connected to the Internet in any way. In time I think we all know that's going to change, and when it does I have a feeling it stands a chance at turning our kids into safer drivers.

Three weeks ago I took possession of a Tesla Model S electric car. When i wrote about my initial experience with the car a couple of weeks ago, and as part of that article I discussed how fun it was to have a mobile app to see data from my car and even control aspects of the car like locking and unlocking the doors, or setting the climate control.

Then, just last week, my wife was out in the car and I was putting the kids to bed. My daughter asked me, "When is mommy going to be home?" I wasn't sure if she'd make it home in time to tuck the girls in, or if they'd be fast asleep by the time she arrived. It occurred to me I could just pull up the Tesla app on my phone and check it's location.

Instead of just seeing the car's location I was surprised to see a living and breathing dashboard of performance. I could see the car's location as it moved. I could see the speedometer. I could see the energy meter which showed me whether the car was using energy (driving) or recovering energy (regenerative breaking). But most important to the situation, I was able to take one look at the map and say, "Oh, mom will be home in about 5 minutes. She's very close."

Instead of just seeing the car's location I was surprised to see a living and breathing dashboard of performance

Right now there is no way for me to track performance over time and access detailed reports of the car's location, speed, etc. But obviously Telsa has access to this data and they could easily change things such that owners have more telematics information and reports.

So let's extend this to when my kids are older and they want to take the car out on their own, with their friends. Perhaps I should consider myself lucky. I have two girls. Girls tend to be less aggressive on the road. When I was a 19-year old kid driving my dad's Oldsmobile Delta 88 there were plenty of times when I drove at insanely unsafe speeds on the highway, or did other stupid things.

I suspect that if I were in that same position in the year 2020, driving a car that reported its speed and location to the owner, I'd probably think twice about doing such stupid things. The risk of my parents knowing exactly how idiotic I'd been driving, and the consequences (losing car privileges) would turn me off from such behavior.

I'm not saying parents should or should not pay close attention to this kind of thing. If you raise smart and responsible kids they will probably make good choices most of the time. But I do think the existence of the possibility of being monitored will help encourage more safe driving among teens and young adults. Just as some mature adult drivers are motivated to drive slower because of the potential for radar traps and expensive fines, younger drivers may be more careful when mom or dad could be watching.

I'm several years away from having to deal with this, and I doubt I'd throw these monitoring tools in my kids' faces as they get behind the wheel … but I do admit I like the idea of them just knowing the technology is there so that, in the back of their minds, it influences them to be more careful.

What do other parents out there think? Do you support the idea of connected cars increasing safety for young drivers? What other connected technologies exist that could help keep kids safe?

2 comments

Kyle McInnes

Connected cars are going to help but the real tech for saving lives is driverless vehicles. Not to mention all the productivity gains from giving the people the ability to work in their cars while they're being chauffeured to the office.