4 Aftermarket Upgrades to Make Your Teen Safer While Behind the Wheel

Because teen drivers often underestimate dangerous roadway situations and their own driving abilities, it makes sense that more motor vehicle accidents are the fault of 16- to 19-year-old drivers compared to any other demographic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As parents, you’ve done all you can to impart wisdom and a sense of responsibility to your new teen driver, but giving them the keys and allowing them to venture out on the open road alone doesn’t make things any less nerve-wracking. Thankfully, technology is on your and other concerned parents’ side, as there are plenty of high-tech options you can add to your teen’s ride to give you peace of mind. Here are some examples to help you breathe a little easier.

Vehicle Tracking System

While we all like to think we completely trust our teenagers, the reality is that their raging hormones can, at times, lead them to be erratic by nature. Though you may trust the best version of your teen, there’s no guarantee he will always stay safe while out with friends or trying to impress the girl he has a crush on.

Just because you’re skeptical about what goes on in your teen’s mind when you aren’t around doesn’t meaning you are failing as a parent. This is why having some eyes and ears inside the car when you’re not with your teen driver is absolutely essential. It’s so important, in fact, that many newly manufactured vehicles, like the Chevy Malibu and those with the Ford MyKey system, come with advanced vehicle tracking systems that are designed to ease parents’ worries about what happens when their teen is driving solo behind the wheel.

But you don’t have to splurge on a brand new car for your teen to take advantage of this new safety feature. Voxx Carlink ASCL4 is an aftermarket option that can be installed on any vehicle manufactured since 1996. It connects to the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system and then links up, via Bluetooth, with your smartphone. Once connected, it offers speed monitoring, geo-fencing, a GPS location option and curfew notification. Voxx Carlink ASCL4 costs around $280 and requires an annual subscription fee, ranging from $29.99 to $79.99.

High-Performance Tires

More than 78,000 vehicle crashes occur annually as a result of worn tires, blowouts, flat tires or under-inflated tires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, vehicles are over 11 percent more likely to experience tire issues during hazardous road conditions, such as wet roads, flooding, or snowy or icy conditions. This is why it’s vital to make sure your teen’s tires are in good condition at all times.

Start by upgrading those basic tires to a high-performance set designed for optimal traction in all weather conditions from a reliable brand like Nitto. From there, teach your teen to regularly inspect their tires by showing them how to measure tread wear with a coin and how to check for even wear.

Dashboard Camera

Yes, installing a dashboard camera is a bit Big Brother-like, but the reassurance — or annoyance, perhaps — from your teen that you’re always watching will help make them more mindful of their driving habits. The Wi-Fi-enabled Thinkware F750 ($236.99), which comes with a corresponding smartphone app for easy viewing, helps ensure your teen isn’t texting while driving or driving more friends than you allow them. It’s an ideal bridge to help build trust in your newly licensed driver.

In order to make most effective use of this technology, set some clear ground rules for your teen driver to follow. Check in on the dashboard camera remotely from time to time and share your observations with your teen so they know you are actually checking up on them. You’ll likely only need to do this for the first few weeks; after that, your teen will naturally be used to knowing you could be watching them drive at any time.

Ignition Interlock Device

While an ignition interlock device may seem like overkill, there’s no such thing as being too careful when it comes to drunk driving prevention. The Intoxalock Legacy device (from $29.95 per month) is a top-notch drunk driving deterrent that prevents a vehicle from starting if the device detects any alcohol on the driver’s breath. After all, most states have a zero tolerance law for impaired driving, so why shouldn’t you enforce this measure as well?