Smartphone on the Road: Five Apps That Can Make Your Teen a Better Driver

Guest Post by Cynthia Tyson. Cynthia is a stay-at-home mom with a background in social media and public relations.

You don’t often see the words “smartphone,” “teen,” and “driving” all in the same sentence. At least, not in a positive way. As much as smartphones can be detrimental to safety on the road, they can also help teens become better and safer drivers in the long run. So, if you want to bribe your teen into safer driving, make sure he or she downloads the following apps before you even think about looking at used cars for the holidays.Photo for Apps

1. Drive Safe.ly (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows – Free)

This handy mobile app helps prevent distracted driving by reading text messages and emails aloud in real time. Drive Safe.ly even responds automatically to these messages without drivers having to even touch the phone. These automated messages can be customized according to different needs, so teens can write messages like “On the way!” for specific text senders. One-touch activation makes setup a breeze, while a flexible design ensures compatibility with Bluetooth and radio transmitters.

2. Drive Safe Mode (iOS, Android – Free)

Using special sensory technology to detect the movement of the car, Drive Safe Mode turns off all alerts to eliminate distractions completely. No more reminding your teen to turn off her phone or put it in the backseat. Drive Safe Mode literally puts his phone on lockdown and even sends out alerts and reports if the user tries to disable the lock. Now you can be sure your rules are enforced even after he pulls out of the driveway. Even while driving, the app allows emergency calls to 911 and Mom and Dad just in case.

3. DriveScribe (iOS, Android – Free)

Perfect for new drivers, DriveScribe can be your teen’s personal driving instructor when you’re not in the car. The app monitors speed, blocks texts and calls, and delivers real-time voice feedback to improve your teen’s driving. The driver will not only receive an alert about driving mistakes but also designated friends or family members via text message and/or email. Mistakes can include excessive speed, running a stop sign and hard braking. After each driving session, data is stored, monitored and analyzed in comprehensive metrics that make it easier to gauge progress.

4. CarSafe (Android – Free)

Developed by researchers from Dartmouth’s Smartphone Sensing Group, CarSafe is a high-tech app that uses dual-camera, motion-sensing power to detect risky driving behaviors like distraction and drowsiness. The front camera records data about the driver, while the back camera keeps track of environmental conditions. After analyzing this data, the app will alert the driver about these risks with screen icons and audible warnings. Risky behavior ranges from tired eyes to a too-close proximity to the car ahead.

5. Steer Clear (iOS, Android – Free)

State Farm created the Steer Clear mobile app as part of a program for reinforcing positive driving behavior for young drivers. Drivers under age 25 can complete the Steer Clear Safe Driver Discount Program to earn discounts on State Farm auto insurance, so safe driving can literally pay off. The app logs driving experiences and offers tips for safer driving in varying weather conditions. Teens can even use the app to watch videos and learn from the experiences of other drivers. A built-in Find an Agent feature also makes it easy to contact your State Farm Agent for general questions or to make a claim.

Group Magazine

Group Magazine is a well-done, bi-monthly magazine aimed at individuals who work with teenagers in a youth ministry context. Group is well-known for their various curriculums, books, and tools that cover not only youth ministry but also children, group, and adult ministry. Their magazine is filled with practical tips, hints, and articles that assist a youth leader in staying current and keeping the idea bin fresh.

Español: Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
Español: Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, I really wanted to take just a moment to reply to the editorial in the latest edition (Sep./Oct. 2010) by Rick Lawrence entitled “the two prodigals.” In this article Lawrence tackles the question of whether youth ministry focused on those reaching the unchurched or the churched is more demanding and worthwhile – his end conclusion is that they are both valid and challenging fields.

I’d agree with Lawrence’s evaluation of the situation but would also share my philosophy of youth ministry. I’m not suggesting it as the only way, just as a way.

In my mind the church is primarily about educating and edifying believers for the purpose of outreach. That is, the church is not primarily someplace you bring individuals who don’t agree with you or believe in Christ, but rather a place where you go to learn about Christ, to be encouraged, challenged, and strengthened and then go back into your daily life where you reach out to those you interact with every day. This seems like something that could carry over to a youth group as well – at least its regular meetings.

In my mind, then, the idea is to equip teenagers to share their faith and remain consistent to their faith in their daily lives – rather to bring individuals who don’t agree into the group and change their beliefs. Why? The simplest reason is that those who claim to be “Christians” are at least marginally (supposed to be) interested in maturing in Christ and you can take them through a path of teaching/education, whereas when you attempt to bring in a group of people who do not believe – it is likely each one will be on a separate page that could perhaps be better addressed on an individual level.

So, my suggestion is – use the regular youth meetings to train up the teenagers, use special events to bring your teens together and as outreach opportunities, and be continuously encouraging your teens to be involved in evangelism in their context – e.g. school, work, home, sports.