Esurance is unveiling a teen driver safety program that includes new technology to tackle texting while driving.The program combines cell phone-limiting functionality, with risky driving behavior notifications sent to parents.
Every day in 2012, nine people were killed and another 1,153 people were injured in car crashes involving a distracted driver, according to estimates from the National Highway
Transportation Safety Administration. And 21% of the distracted drivers ages 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted by their cell phones.
Because texting and driving requires a combination of visual, manual, and cognitive attention, it is particularly dangerous for teenage drivers.
Esurance said the goal of the program is to let parents know how their teen is doing on the road so they can promote safer, more responsible driving habits.
When parents enroll in Esurance DriveSafe, they'll receive a small telematics device to install in the onboard diagnostics port of the car their teen drives most, along with instructions on how to download the Esurance DriveSafe app onto their teen's smartphone.
Using Bluetooth and cellular technology, the device and smartphone app work together to help monitor the teen's driving habits and limit texting, Web browsing, and cell phone use when the car is in motion.
Once the device is activated, parents can go to a dedicated microsite and access their personalized Esurance DriveSafe site. From there, parents can set preferences, opt in for customized alerts about unsafe driving behaviors like driving past curfew or speeding, and review trip details to see where their teen may need some extra coaching. Parents can also compare their teen's driving habits to those of the average Esurance DriveSafe teen driver.
Esurance DriveSafe is available nationwide for free to all Esurance customers with at least one teen listed on their policy. The company says it will not use the program to determine car insurance premiums. Customer rates will never go up or change based on information collected through the program.