By Sandy Latta
I have a new driver in the family named Jake. As soon as he was eligible, we drove to the adult education center to get his learner’s permit. While he was excited to drive on his own, I was dreading the day when he was solo behind the wheel.
It’s not that Jake’s a bad driver — just the opposite. He’s careful, obeys the speed limit and chooses to drive without the radio on so that it doesn’t distract him. That is not the case for his older sister, Emily.
She’s had her license for two years longer than Jake and feels completely comfortable behind the wheel. She drives with passengers in the car and the radio on, both distractions for sure, but she is an intuitive driver and I feel completely safe with her skills.
When Emily got her license, I remember calling USAA to inform them that we had a driver to add to our auto insurance policy. I was not looking forward to the new amount that would appear on our insurance statement. What I didn’t expect was an offer of a telematics device to track Emily’s driving habits in exchange for incentives. Nice!
Emily received a $25 gift card just for enrolling in the program and additional incentives for each increment of driving time tracked. It didn’t last long as Emily didn’t want to waste her Bluetooth on a tracking device.
Then came the day when I added Jake and received the same offer. He welcomed the opportunity to show that he was the better teen driver. He happily plugged the device into the car and logged as many hours as he could get so that he could brag about his ratings. We quickly learned that Emily’s was being tracked as well, and she had apparently lost her great driving skills. Her records showed hard brakes and other infractions. She was a little too comfortable handling the car — not good.
At that point, there was a discussion in the house regarding the expectations of being a good driver. Good driving equals driving the car. The end. Then Jake challenged Emily to see who could earn the best driving record. It was on.
In all honesty, if they offered this device to adult drivers, I’m sure we would quickly learn a thing or two about improving our own driving habits. I’m sure we can all think of a time when we could have made a better driving decision.
I hope that the months spent on the challenge will result in sustained better driving. It would also put my mind at ease while the kids are on the road to know that they are really paying attention to their responsibilities as drivers. Ultimately, it should result in discounted car insurance for having good teen drivers — that’s definitely a plus!