You may have heard of something called OBD. It stands for on-board diagnostics and refers to a car or truck’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability. OBD was originally developed in the 1970s as a means of meeting emission standards enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. When a car was connected to a computer console, the technician could access OBD data on all the car’s systems.
Fast-forward a little over 20 years: In the 1990s, all cars and light trucks manufactured in the United States were required to have the newest version of on-board diagnostics or OBD-II. While it may sound like a character in Star Wars, OBD-II does much more than its earlier version, including gathering and reading information via Bluetooth connection. This upgrade is important because OBD-II gives parents the ability to supervise a teen driver or even a senior driver without having to be in the car.
Accident Stats for Teen and Senior Drivers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teen drivers. Every day, six teens ages 16-19 are killed in car accidents. The CDC also notes that per mile driven, teen drivers in that age group are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
Senior drivers also are at risk. In 2015, there were more than 40 million licensed drivers 65 and older in the U.S. Statistics show that the risk of being killed or injured in a car accident increases with age. In 2014, there were twice as many senior drivers as teens killed daily — on an average day, 16 senior drivers were killed and another 648 were injured in crashes.
Monitoring Your Loved Ones
There is a port located under the steering column of all vehicles manufactured after 1996, which is where driving monitoring devices are installed. Consumer Reports reviewed three models as a guide to what you can expect from tracking devices:
- MasTrack: After plugging in the MasTrack device, you will immediately start receiving information every time the vehicle is turned on. Using your smartphone, computer, or tablet, you can log into a web portal and view specific information on your vehicle, for instance, how fast it’s going or if it’s being driven aggressively. A neat feature of this device is geofencing — it will alert you when the vehicle travels outside a customized area you have set. Once the tracking device is purchased, monthly tracking plans are $15-16 per month.
- MobiCoPilot: This device monitors the vehicle, once started, and gives updates every two minutes via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The portal for this tracking device does offer a record and improve feature that registers unsafe driving over time and gives you data in the form of charts. MobiCoPilot offers a variety of plans, including month-to-month, one-year and two-year plans.
- MOTOsafety: According to the MOTOsafety website, this tracking device was developed with assistance of law enforcement and driving safety experts. Like other tracking devices, it offers real-time information, geofencing, acceleration and braking information, and provides a report card on the driver. The device also sends maintenance reminders. There are no contracts for MOTOsafety, just a monthly fee once the tracking device is purchased.
Tracking devices are relatively new, but the National Highway Transportation Administration is pushing for these and similar devices with the goal of reducing car accidents involving young, inexperienced drivers.