Virtual Backseat Drivers

Maryland parents employ webcams to monitor teen driving

To a teenager, getting one's driver's license is a liberating event that cuts a cord of mobile dependence from parents. To a parent, a child's driver's license is a font of continuing worry and ambivalence.

The Washington Post reports that a program in southern Maryland is testing whether constant remote monitoring via Internet-linked dashcams will curb dangerous driving and ease worry. Young drivers are the worst drivers. Inexperience coupled with youthful recklessness makes teenage drivers the most accident prone, and almost everyone can share a tale of a young life full of promise lost in a tragic auto wreck.

DriveCam is a San Diego company that employs two in-car Internet-linked cameras and G-force sensors that monitor unsafe driving situations. When excessive forces are detected, the footage surrounding the event is saved and an e-mail is sent to parents, who can then view the driver's behavior. One camera is directed at the driver and the other observes what is happening outside the car.

The hope is that constant surveillance will not only provide constructive feedback for inexperienced drivers, but act as a deterrent to teens who know that their parents will be notified when they're driving unsafely.

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