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Device Offers Peace Of Mind For Parents Of Teen Drivers

Aired 3/1/12 on KPBS News.

AAA is hoping more San Diego drivers will start using a new device that helps track teen drivers. It might be intrusive to teens, but backers say it offers peace of mind for parents.

— The Southern California Automobile club is working with its insurance arm to put the device in cars that teens drive. Interested parents who have a teen driver on their insurance policy get a device for free. It plugs into the car's diagnostic system and monitors speed, location and even curfews. Parents keep in the loop in real time through a cellular connection.

Anita Lorz Villagrano, Triple-A
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Above: Anita Lorz Villagrano, Triple-A

"We lose about 20 teens a year to traffic crashes and about 2,000 injuries," said Anita Lorz Villagrano of AAA. "The main reason we're doing the AAA on board program is to keep teen drivers safe. Teen drivers unfortunately, often times, are high risk drivers."

The company has handed out about 2,000 devices since last summer, but officials hope to get even more parents involved.

The device is free to parents who have a teen driver on their AAA insurance policy. It uses a GPS locator connected to a cellular network to track the teen's driving. Parents can set up a computer program that'll text them if their teen's car is driving too fast, leaves a certain geographic area, or breaks down. AAA's Cletus Nunes says it is designed for teens but would be used with other drivers.

"We would like to be able to offer an elderly product because we know that with dementia and other challenges, it could be helpful," said Cletus Nunes of AAA. "But this product right now is designed specifically for the teens. You need to have a teen on the policy or we can't issue the product."

Teens are open to the device, according to Nunes, if that's the way they can get the keys to the car.

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