Money Wise--Monitoring Your Teen Driver

If you have teenagers, you know it can be nerve wracking when they start to drive alone. Seventeen-year-old Paul Hope has only had his license for four months. It's sweaty-hands time for his father. How is he doing? Is he driving safely? Now there are some new monitors which can keep tabs on the novice driver.

"These products can tell parents all sorts of interesting information, such as how far the car went, how fast the car went and levels of deceleration or acceleration," said John Kupsch, technical director for the Good Housekeeping Institute.

These devices, the CarChip E/X by Davis Instruments and the R-S 1000 by Road Safety International, work with any car manufactured since 1996.

"They simply connect to the computer port, which is underneath the dashboard in your car," explained Kupsch. "Plug it into your computer and download the information onto your computer using the software that's included. Both models performed well, but the CarChip is easier to use, easier to install, it's less expensive."

The $179 CarChip also didn't have a cable for anyone to see. "It's inconspicuous to both the driver and the passenger," Kupsch said.

The Road Safety R-S 1000 was pricier at $280, but it had additional features. "An alarm which can be set by the parent to go off whenever the car exceeds a certain speed, or the car is driven beyond a certain distance."

But if you want to keep the monitor a secret, there was one big drawback. Kupsch explained, "The cable is visible, so the teenager's really going to know that they're being monitored."

As for watching out for your teen, these chips can't stop bad behavior, they can only sound an alarm.

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Reported by: Dmitra Denmark,