There’s a certain sense of freedom that comes with learning to drive. Whether your teen’s dream is to take a road trip across Canada or just go for late-night takeout whenever she feels like it, all she has to do is hop in the car, buckle up, and hit the road.
If you get nervous just thinking about your newly licensed “baby” getting behind the wheel, remember that vehicle safety features and technology have come a long way since you first started driving. Not only can tools like back-up cameras, sensor systems, and winter tires reduce the risk of an accident, but there are also several smartphone apps that can help you keep tabs on your new driver, keep her safe on the road, and avoid some of the unnecessary expenses that can come with driving.
Why not impress your teen by recommending apps to her for a change? Not only will it score you some “cool” points, but it’ll help keep your kid safe and efficient on the road.
Navigation apps to get her where she’s going
For new drivers, travelling in an unfamiliar area is stressful enough without having to worry about missing an exit or ending up in the wrong town — and some of the most dangerous and inconsiderate habits reveal themselves when a driver is under pressure. Luckily, apps like Google Maps and Waze offer turn-by-turn navigation systems that help drivers steer clear of obstacles like traffic jams and road closures, re-routing when needed and keeping them on the best possible path.
Quick tip: Ask your teen to program her route and securely mount her phone before putting the car in drive — and remind her not to handle her phone while she’s driving.
Apps that block texts and prevent phone use while driving
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents — and a teen’s cell phone can be a tempting source of distraction. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps that can reduce distracted driving risks by disabling the driver’s phone functions while the car is moving, preventing the driver from calling, texting, or using other apps. Many of these safe driving apps can also sound an alert when the driver travels above the speed limit, turns the app off while the car is moving, or arrives at her final destination. Plus, they can allow you to set emergency contacts that can be dialed, like Mom, Dad, and 9-1-1. To keep your teen’s eyes on the road (and her hands off her phone), try taking an app like DriveSafe Mode or LifeSaver for a spin.
Smart parking apps
Finding a good, cheap parking spot can be a pain — and it’s even worse when you race back to your vehicle only to find that the meter has run out and there’s a ticket on your windshield. Luckily, there are several apps that can track down nearby parking lots, accept credit card payments for parking, alert you before your payment expires, and even top up the meter if you’re running behind schedule. The services offered by each parking app can differ quite a bit, so compare features and decide what best suits your teen’s needs:
Quick tip: The locations serviced by these top-rated parking apps vary, so be sure to track down an app that works in the city your teen will be travelling to.
Have you ever passed a gas station, checked the price, and then driven around the block to find out if it’s lower somewhere else? Gas prices are all over the map — but your teen doesn’t have to be. An app like Gas Buddy allows users to compare prices at all local gas stations using crowd-sourced, up-to-the-minute data. It also features a trip cost calculator, which will make it easier for your teen to split the price of gas with her friends on that cross-country road trip.
Save on car insurance (no app required)
Whether you’re sharing your car or your teen has saved up for one of her own, remember to ask your insurance broker if your family could take advantage of multi-car or student discounts.