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New App To Aid Teen Drivers & Their Parents

teen driver
State Farm Insurance, via Flickr, Creative Commons

Teaching a teenager to drive can be a scary experience for both teens and parents. But a new iPhone app developed by the UNC Highway Safety Research Centerand the Center for the Study of Young Drivers aims to lessen that anxiety by helping teens and parents log driving time and meet driving goals before the teen applies for a driver’s license.

The app is called Time to Drive, and it’s rooted in research showing that many teens do not receive adequate driving practice in a variety of potentially challenging conditions, such as on interstates, at night, in heavy traffic, or in poor weather. The app can monitor driving time and keep track of road conditions and routes, allowing parents and teens to meet certain driving goals during the learning process.

Arthur Goodwin, a senior research associate with the Center for the Study of Young Drivers, says that lack of experience is a major cause of motor vehicle crashes among young drivers. He says that experience in all kinds of driving situations is critical for teens who are still learning under their parents' supervision.

The Time to Drive app.
The Time to Drive app.

In addition to monitoring routes and road conditions, Time to Drive provides tips for parents who have teenagers that are scared to drive and gives advice to parents on choosing a vehicle for a teen driver.  It also has a hard stop meter that sends out an alert when the driver brakes too hard. According to CSYD research, braking too late is one of the most common factors contributing to teenage driver crashes.

Melissa Jackowski is a parent who used the app during its testing phase. According to a statement issued from UNC, she says that Time to Drive changed the way she approached driving with her daughter.  “I realized that my daughter and I always drove the same roads to her after school activities,” she says. “We intentionally changed our routes so that she could practice driving in different situations, including on interstates and higher speed roadways.”

Individuals who use the app can decide whether or not they want their data to be collected and used by researchers at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. Time to Drive can be purchased in the Apple iTunes store.  

Watch a video about the app here:

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.
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