Got a new driver? Yeah, there's an app for that

Few events are more exciting to a teen than the first time they get behind the wheel of a car alone. Sadly, it may be more exciting for some than they are equipped to handle. One of the most dangerous times for a new driver is during their first time driving alone. While they may have the basics of driving down, it is a very different thing to control a car on a rain-slicked road when another driver unexpectedly changes lanes directly in front of them.

Figuring out how to keep teen drivers out of car accidents is a challenge for any parent. You want them to drive and gain experience, but you worry that they will become distracted by modern conveniences, especially cellphones. Now there is an app that may help, rather than hinder your teen driver.

The University of North Carolina has been working on these issues for many years at UNC's Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill. A senior researcher noted that many young drivers go out on their own with little or no real driving experience and can get into trouble rather quickly. He said there were some, "teens who were getting a license who had never driven at night, never driven in bad weather or on the interstate."

UNC developed an app that allows parents and their teens to work to meet goals of obtaining different kinds of driving experience before they are alone. The app enables them to track their progress.

Other products can also help young drivers, but disabling texting or cellphone use when the vehicle is moving. Driving is a dangerous activity and inexperienced drivers need all the help they can get.

Source: USA Today, "Honk if you love apps that protect teen drivers," Larry Copeland, April 8, 2013

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