According to MADD Canada, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 25-year-olds, and alcohol and/or drug impairment is a factor in 55% of those crashes.” Even more disturbing is that more 19 year-olds die or are seriously injured in traffic accidents than any age group.
What’s being done?
Enacted in 1994, the graduated licensing program was the government’s way of ensuring young drivers were prepared to be on the road. Though the specifics vary by province, the concept is the same. With graduated licensing, the minimum age a teen can begin learning to drive is typically 16, with some regions allowing students taking driver education courses to start learning as young as fourteen or fifteen years of age.
The thought process behind graduated licensing is that it forces novice drivers to take their time through the licensing stages, acquiring valuable and necessary time behind the wheel to prepare them for a lifetime of safe driving. However, young drivers are still making severe — and often deadly — mistakes on the road, despite their graduated license.
Teens still not deterred
It’s important for parents to know that teens who engage in reckless or distracted driving are often not purposely making poor decisions. With an underdeveloped frontal cortex — the area of the brain that controls reasoning and impulsivity — teens are at risk of making rash judgments of situations and suffering severe consequences.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, because teens’ brains are still developing, they’re more likely to:
- act on impulse
- misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
- get into accidents of all kinds
- get involved in fights
- engage in dangerous or risky behaviour
So, when your teen decides to pile a group of their friends into their car for a joyride, despite your explicit instructions not to do so, they’re not necessarily defiant on purpose, they’re not thinking before they’re acting. This is where technological backup comes into play, helping you help your teen make good decisions behind the wheel.
What parents can do
Talking about underage drinking early and often is the first plan of attack when addressing the issue of young drivers and alcohol, but the statistics tell us that teens lack thorough decision-making skills, especially when it comes to impaired driving.
Canadian company, Not Your Child Corp, has released an ignition interlock, tracking and breathalyzer device for preorder that allows parents to have a second line of defence against their teens driving impaired. But, the invention isn’t only for safeguarding against driving under the influence of alcohol, it can be used as a tool for parents to monitor their teen’s driving habits, as well as driving safety when they’re a passenger with a friend.
Safeguard your vehicle
Not Your Child Corp’s ignition interlock device prevents your vehicle from being driven by an unauthorized driver by requiring a pre-approved, pre-authorized Bluetooth-enabled phone be detected — families can pair up to 6 phones with the ignition interlock device. Because the interlock device is securely installed, it cannot easily be uncoupled from your vehicle, as it requires a trained mechanic or electrician to uninstall.
Once teens begin to feel comfortable behind the wheel on their own, their foot often becomes heavier on the pedal. With Not Your Child Corp’s device, parents can opt to receive speeding alerts to let them know how their teen is driving. Want to know where your teen is heading? The ignition interlock device can also track your teen’s location with the customizable options the Not Your Child app provides.
Not Your Child’s device allows parents to set custom geofences for their teen drivers, in addition to pre-determined points of interest. Once your young driver crosses the geofence barrier, you’ll receive an alert on your phone. If you’ve forbidden your teen to visit a specific place — such as a bar — or friend’s home, you can program those locations into the Not Your Child app and be alerted when your child visits those off-limits places.
While you may trust your teen, you can’t always trust their brain to make the best decisions. For this reason, Not Your Child offers a breathalyzer component to their interlock device, which can be customized by parents through the app on their phone.
If your teen is out with friends, you can require that they blow a clean breath sample to start their vehicle at the end of the night. If alcohol is detected on your child’s breath sample, you will receive an alert, and you can have the peace of mind knowing that the ignition interlock device will disable the starter relay.
Not Your Child Corp’s device actively helps worried parents stop their children from making poor driving decisions.
Lauren B. Stevens is an award-winning writer, editor, and digital parent, whose pieces have been published across the internet and featured in several print anthologies. Lauren lives in the Baltimore metro area with her husband and son, and enjoys spending her family time hiking and traveling.