One insurance agency says its new program is way to help teen drivers stay safe and save money. Others say it's an invasion of privacy. American Family customers have the option to install a free, small camera on the windshield of their car, which will record their teen drivers.
"Even in cases where the parents thought maybe it was really unnecessary because their Johnny or Susie were just the perfect drivers, they've found that's not the case," said American Family Insurance Agent Lee Allee.
Teens pay the highest insurance premiums of all drivers. American Family Insurance hopes its new program, called Teen Safe Driver, can help change that.
"So I thought this is a good way to show her what she's doing wrong instead of me telling her," said Valerie Sandoval, who enrolled her daughter in the program.
Many parents have found, however, it's an idea their teens aren't too keen on.
"She hated the idea at first," said Sandoval. "Her thing was it was invading my privacy and I was just putting it in there because I didn't trust her."
But American Family agents say this program isn't intended to be big brother looking over your shoulder. The camera only records when it is activated by a g-force.
"There has to be an event occurring before the camera comes on, so it's not on twenty-four seven" said Allee. "A boy kissing his girlfriend, or vice versa, is not going to be enough to activate the camera."
Allee says a g-force can be sudden braking or accelerating, hitting something, taking a turn too hard, or swerving. When that does happen, the camera begins recording both inside and outside the car for about thirty seconds.
Parents can then log onto the Teen Safe Driver website and use their unique password to watch the video. Parents say they're not the only who are surprised by what they see.
"When she actually sees it at the other end she's like wow, I didn't realize that's how bad it was," said Sandoval.
The video is also seen by safety experts who give each teen an individual scoring card to let them know how safely they drive. Parents who have enrolled in the program say they can't believe how it has changed their sons and daughters.
"There went a couple of weeks where she was like mom, I didn't set off the camera," said Sandoval. "So she's happy she's driving better."
That's not all teens with the cameras have to be excited about.
"Then as a reward, we can give those teen drivers and their parents a ten percent discount," said Allee.
The program is just getting started in Western Colorado with only five families enrolled. But with the success agents and parents say they've seen already, it won't be long before others hop on board.
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