Using Telematics to Keep an Eye on Your Young Driver

by Lori Straus

Telematics is the technology used to monitor a driver. Logistics, utility, transportation, and other companies that maintain fleets have been using telematics to monitor their drivers for a long time. Did you know it’s also available to consumers? In this blog post, we’ll quickly cover how telematics can help you monitor young drivers in your household to help keep them safe.

Causes of Collisions in Ontario

According to the CBC, causes for fatal collisions in Ontario in 2017 broke down as follows:

  • distracted driving: 65
  • speed: 55
  • seat belt: 53
  • alcohol: 45
two destroyed vehicles accident in a crash in the middle of the street

Although telematics can’t detect a driver’s alcohol levels, they can detect erratic driving behaviour. For distracted driving, there is software you can install on your young driver’s phone to keep their attention off it. Of course, instilling in them the importance of how to remove the distractions their phone can cause is important, too.

How Telematics Devices Work

Telematics devices plug into your OBD (on-board diagnostics) port under your steering wheel. They’ve been installed on vehicles since 1997, so even if you have a used vehicle, chances are it has a port. Depending then on the software package you purchase, the device will send certain types of data to the cloud, which you can then access, usually on your phone.

If you’re concerned that the teen driver in your household might just unplug the device, many come with an alert that will notify you. However, another option is to have the device hard-wired into your vehicle. This can greatly reduce the chances of your teen driver removing it.

What Can a Telematics Device Tell Me About My Teen Driver?

Teenager in Yellow Sweater Texting While Driving

Installing a telematics device and paying the service’s monthly fee can give you access to a good amount of information that should give you more peace of mind when your teen driver is out on the road.

For example, you can set up “geofences.” These are boundaries that you program into the user-friendly app. If your young driver crosses a boundary, you’ll get notified immediately. For example, say you want your teen to only drive within a 20-kilometre radius. You set up that boundary as a geofence in the telematics app, and if your teen drives past it, you’ll be notified. Of course, what you do with the information afterwards is up to you, but with the telematics device, the days of teens sneaking away during school or driving farther than you’ve permitted are pretty much gone.

Other information you can learn, depending on the company you purchase from:

  • Driving speed
  • Dangerous driving habits such as hard breaking and falling asleep at the wheel
  • Driving past curfew
  • Connectivity to dash and back-up cameras
  • Panic button so driver can immediately alert you to a problem
  • Driver location as frequently as every 60 seconds
  • Service alerts, such as low battery

How Do I Find a Telematics Device?

Some new cars come with a telematics device pre-installed, or you can order one when you order your vehicle. When searching online, though, try “GPS tracker” instead of “telematics.” That should help you locate relevant devices more quickly.