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DriveCam reduces accidents for teen drivers

Parents can watch their teen driver, even when they aren't in the car.

DriveCam is a camera that attaches to the rear-view mirror. The camera records then re-records over itself every 10 seconds. In the event of an accident or impact, the camera records the 10 seconds prior and after the incident. The footage is then analyzed to determine a cause of the incident. An e-mail of the analysis and video footage are then sent to the teen driver's parents.

The camera is activated by G-forces. Swerving, braking, hitting corners or speeding can trigger the camera to record.

"It makes the child start to drive the same ways if the parent was in the car with them," said Cynthia Squires, an agent for American Family Insurance.

DriveCam is part of the Teen Safe Driver Program, which launched in 2008. The program costs $1,000 a year. For local residents with American Family Insurance, the program is free.

Squires estimates that at her Federal Way office, about 20-25 parents have opted to use the DriveCam in their cars.

With the DriveCam, risky driver behavior decreased 70-90 percent in 18 weeks, according to studies by the insurance company and DriveCam. This brings the level of incidents down to those involving 15-year-old drivers, who only had permits and were thus required to have an adult in the car with them.

According to the National Personal Transportation Survey, 15-year-olds averaged less than one crash per 100,000 miles driven, whereas 16-year-olds averaged four to five crashes per 100,000 miles driven.

Motor vehicle deaths are the number one cause of death for teens age 15-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control's National Vital Statistics Report.

Squires is often asked is if the program invades a teen's privacy. She said that since parents are responsible for the children and the vehicles, it's in their interest to know what goes on.

"Ask any parent who has had a child in an accident if they care if they invade their privacy," Squires said. "Parents have the right...even the most responsible children still need their parents coaching."

Learn more

To learn more about the Teen Safe Driver Program, contact Cynthia Squires at csquires@amfam.com or at (253) 529-1957.

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