Privacy & Teen Drivers

Data logger could expose teen’s bad driving behavior…or coach her to driver safer. What about her data privacy?

Data loggers capture the speed at which a vehicle travels and more. This shows the setup between hardware, car, and computer.
csselectronics.com

Dear Ms. Smartphone: A reader asked about installing a data logger to lower car insurance rates. I looked into it and like the idea but am worried about my teen. (read: Telematics and Teens). My daughter is not a good driver. She has had several near-misses and was once pulled over with friends for a DUI (she was not the driver). But, she is only 16. I worry that if we get this data-logger her bad driving behavior will be permanent on her record. Tony, Cambridge

Dear Tony: This is indeed a dilemma. Loggers are good things because they can coach road users to drive safely: they record events like excess speeding, stop sign violations, and jerky stops and starts. They can also ‘gamify’ driving and be a fun way to help your daughter become a better driver.

On the other hand, the privacy issues you raise are real. One state, California, has initiated a massive consumer privacy rights bill for 2020. In the past, it was illegal to sell information for children 12 and under without explicit consent. Now the age increases to 16. In principle and in most states, you can opt out of the data collection when you download an app. Do data loggers count? By definition, they record data!

Reputation- Digital

What are the reputation repercussions if your daughter is pulled over for a DUI, or a random check finds that she is underage and smoking marijuana? I really don’t know. We are supposed to protect our kids online. Teens are vulnerable when they engage in risky behaviors, and they cannot anticipate that their digital record could follow them permanently. 

2020 is said to be the year of privacy, and we can hope that issues like this get sorted out. However, Facebook has said that it does not need to make changes to its web-tracking services to comply with the new California legislation. Likewise, what happens if the data-logging firm that reports your daughter’s driving behavior is sold, or their privacy policy changes?

Protection First

These are challenging issues to sort out. As a parent, you must protect your daughter’s (digital) reputation.  So, begin at home – well actually in the car. Your daughter is at risk as a driver. Either take back the keys or begin anew with one-on-one driver training.

Phones and Handsfree

This is an image of a road as seen through a smartphone being held in a hand. It is somewhat artistic.
Flip Car/Flip Phone? Soure: Pexels

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I had a near-miss when texting. I will no longer be driving this way! It turns out that the lease on my car is about to expire so what would be a better choice when I go car-shopping? Quentin, Sausalito

Dear Quentin: I don’t do vehicle research, but I can guide you through the issue. First, when you buy a car, make sure that you put the car first, and the infotainment system second. Then, have a look at this recent posting from the AAA Foundation. Researchers from the University of Utah compared CarPlay, Android Auto, and native infotainment systems. The Utah team have been railing for years about distracted driving and smartphones so their software tests are informed and useful. BTW, they say that texting and setting a navigation system are the most cognitively demanding tasks.

Phones on Holiday

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am on holiday and can’t find where to buy postcards or stamps.  I promised my Mom I’d send her pretty pictures, but it would be so much easier to use photos in messaging.  C.C. Reading

Dear C.C.: You didn’t mention where you are headed, but it does seem like no one sells postcards or stamps anymore.  Make sure the phone does not interfere with your vacation. Beyond that, your family and friends might enjoy sharing your adventures in real time. Postcards are bland and predictable…travel reporting does not have to be! You can always bring back some small souvenirs to replace those postcards.