New App Lets Parents Know How Teens Are Driving
A Florida father has created an app to help give parents peace of mind when their teens are behind the wheel, although the app is stirring controversy in addition to winning praise.
The way Michael McManigal’s “How Is My Kid Driving?” app works, you register the license plate number of the child’s car on the website, HowIsMyKidDriving.co. As Nicole Brochu reports for SunSentinel.com, registration costs $15 for the first year, and $10 per year after that. Membership comes with two copies of a bumper sticker to place on the teen’s car. It says:
HOW IS MY KID DRIVING.CO
PUSH TEXT my TAG#
FREE ANDROID & iPHONE APP
Drivers who have the free “Push Text” app downloaded on their Androids or iPhones can punch in the license plate number/letters and also send their thoughts, anonymously, in a one-way text, Brochu writes.
HowIsMyKidDriving.co, the app’s site, explains why this app is a good idea:
The ‘How is my KID driving’ program is the easiest way for you to monitor how your child is actually doing behind the wheel. If your child is speeding, swerving in and out of traffic, driving reckless[ly], talking on the phone and not paying attention, or texting while driving, you’ll be sure to hear about it. The best part is, your child knows other drivers can easily comment on their driving, and this alone makes them drive more carefully! Our program gets other drivers involved by giving them a free, easy, and anonymous way to comment on your child’s driving.
McManigal, of Cooper City, Florida, said he got the idea for the app when he noticed many “How’s my driving?” stickers on trucks, on a long drive home from South Carolina.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the number one cause of death for U.S. teens, who are four times more likely than older drivers to get into traffic accidents, Dailymail.co.uk notes in its article, “New app lets parents ask: ‘How is my kid driving?'”
The controversy about this new app is because asking other drivers to write down a young driver’s license plate and then comment about that teen’s driving is encouraging one of the very behaviors that is causing so many accidents, namely, texting while driving.
Brochu quotes Florida state Rep. Irv Slosberg, a longtime highway safety advocate who lost a teenage daughter in a 1996 car accident: “I applaud this father for doing something about teen driving, but I think it can be dangerous.”
Brochu goes on to write:
‘I applaud this gentleman’s tenacity for creating a bumper sticker targeted toward the teen market. What he’s created is quite ingenious,’ said John Pecchio, manager of AAA Auto Club South’s traffic and teen driver safety programs. ‘But we would recommend that he proceed with caution. Focusing on getting the tag number and texting the message is our only concern. It could add to the distracted driving dangers.’
McManigal’s hope is that drivers would be responsible enough to wait until they’re stopped at a safe place before texting, and either memorize or quickly jot down the six-number tag. But he agreed that many motorists likely won’t be so careful.
‘That is an issue,’ he said.
Sari Cutler, a 16-year-old driver, was skeptical about the app’s effectiveness. She told Brochu, “If it’s an anonymous text, how are you so certain it’s not someone trying to pull your leg? It could be a revenge thing.” Cutler also said that not all teens are bad drivers. She added: “And if you’re texting about my driving, aren’t you being hypocritical by driving and texting?”
Edith Peters, a traffic safety specialist for the Florida Department of Transportation, told Brochu, “Part of me likes the idea. Maybe it will make kids think before they drive aggressively or distracted.” She went on to say she would prefer that the bumper stickers had a warning that discouraged texting while driving.
McManigal said that in response to those who are concerned about other drivers texting while driving in order to send their comments about teen drivers on the road, he will add a warning when he prints up the next batch of bumper stickers.
The app’s website invites schools to ask about how to use the program as a fundraiser.