Weather Forecast


Program aims to keep teen drivers safe

When Gretchen Flynn's son turns 16 soon she won't lose a lot of sleep wondering if he's driving safe. She'll know.

Through the Teen Safe Driver program, provided by DriveCam Inc. and American Family Insurance, the car Flynn's son will drive will be equipped with a camera system. So she'll know how her teen driver is doing solo.

The innovative camera, provided by DriveCam, activates whenever high risk driving incidents take place such as a sudden stop or swerving. The camera saves data from such incidents for the 15 seconds before and 15 seconds after.

In addition the camera collects data from both inside and outside the vehicle. The wireless unit sends images and sounds to an analysis center where trained personnel will review it .

The inside footage lets parents know exactly what is going on in the car when an incident happens. For example, it will let parents know if a teen is text messaging while driving.

The outside footage will let parents know exactly what kind of incident occurred and how or if it could have been avoided.

Each week Flynn, who works for American Family Insurance in Rosemount, will receive a report from the analysis center that will include tips for her young driver.

"It's all about developing good driving skills," said American Family Insurance agent Kelly Burnett.

The footage can not be used by American Family Insurance to raise rates said Burnett. However, in the case of an accident, it can be subpoenaed by the police as evidence.

Studies conducted by the University of Iowa show that with the camera teens drive more safely.

Though only preliminary results were available, so far the study shows that with the camera teen drivers reduced their unsafe driving behaviors by 88 percent. Since teens are the highest risk age group for automobile crashes this is a significant number.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 41 percent of teen fatalities are the result of a crashes.

The Teen Safe Driving program started about a year ago. Burnett said DriveCam has exclusively partnered with American Family to offer it.

Burnett said they believe so much in the program that young drivers who use the camera unit for a year get reduced rates.

"We really believe this is a good program and it's a service were happy to provide," said Burnett.

Teens may think the camera is invasive but for parents it is a way to promote safe driving for another year when they aren't in the car.

For more information on the Teen Safe Driver program visit or call American Family Insurance at 651-322-7354.