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Parental monitoring tech could force young drivers to be more responsible

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Installing dashboard cameras and accelerometers in the cars of young drivers that can be monitored by their parents could help to cut accident rates, the RAC Foundation suggests.

In the UK, young drivers (17-24 years old) are the most likely to be involved in an accident. A quarter of people killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads between 2013 and 2015 were in crashes that involved a younger driver even though this group accounted for only 7 per cent of full driving licence holders.

According to a new US report, Keeping Young Drivers Safe During Early Licensure, it has been shown that if new young drivers believe that what they do at the wheel will get back to their parents they are more likely to moderate their behaviour for fear of losing their newly found freedom and privileges.

The study was led by Dr Bruce Simons-Morton from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland, US.

He cited evidence showing combined use of dashcams and devices that record erratic acceleration can reduce bad driving by young people if they know the evidence will be shared with their parents.

Commercial fleet operators already use such devices to monitor driving behaviour.

Like any skill, driving takes practice to improve. However, there is also evidence that whilst new young drivers can drive relatively safely when they are accompanied by their parents or other adults, they undertake more risky behaviour when that adult figure is absent.

This inclination to ‘elect’ to drive more carelessly is compounded by young drivers’ tendency to be easily distracted by things such as making and taking calls on a mobile, texting and the presence of young passengers.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “This report doesn’t suggest that dashcam footage replaces Strictly or The Voice as regular Saturday night family viewing, but it does argue that greater parental appreciation of what their children get up to behind the wheel can be beneficial.

“Whilst teenagers may baulk at the idea of mum and dad effectively supervising their every trip, a constant parental presence, delivered through technology, has been shown to moderate risky behaviour behind the wheel.

“Every parent of a young driver wants their child to drive safely without having to be in the car themselves, but through ‘black box’ telematics and dashcam technology virtual supervision can have a big impact.”

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