Gizmo lets Texas parents track teens on the road

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by JASON WHEELER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwheelertv

WFAA

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 12:01 PM

DALLAS — When your teenage driver isn’t home, do you always know where they are? How fast they are driving?

Many of us aren't sure.

But for some teens, the days of unsupervised joy rides have come to a virtual dead end.

For about a year now, Kimberly Torres has tracked her teenage daughter's every move (and her every moving violation).

“Seventy-nine miles per hour in a 50... she was getting very bold," Torres said as she examined her computer screen.

The real-time tattle-tales which come via computer and text message alerts are made possible by a plug-in device issued free of charge to members who insure their cars and their children through AAA.

“You will know if your car goes outside a certain boundary, if it’s used after a certain time, so you can set a curfew," AAA spokesman Doug Shupe explained. "And you can set a speed limit and you will know when and where that car goes over the speed limit."

Shupe insists the program isn't about catching kids driving badly; it's about counseling them when they do.

"We want them to talk about, 'Look, this is how many curfews were broken today... this is how many speed alerts we received today," Shupe said.

Kimberly Torres said she was very upfront with her daughter. “We told her we were putting this on her car," she said.

Torres said the data that is generated has led to lots of talks. “This is an awesome tool to be able to recognize what’s going wrong and be able to have some conversations with her," she said.

Torres said she’s sure the device helped her teen steer clear of some dangerous driving habits. She said it also prevented her from becoming a nervous wreck.

"It gave me peace of mind," Torres said.

Right now, about 800 Texans are reportedly using the AAA OnBoard Teen Safe Driver Program. The auto club says the system is in operation in Texas and four other states, but is in the process of being expanded nationwide.

The AAA OnBoard device can also be used by adult drivers to track driving habits and mileage which could save on insurance

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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