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Did You Know?

People walking are five times as likely to be killed by a driver traveling 30 mph as one going 20 mph.

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American Family Insurance's Teen Safe Driver program is offering teens a tool proven to help improve their attentiveness while driving: video-based feedback. I read about this in Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic last year and its application in company fleets; a tiny camera is mounted on the rearview mirror where it records the driver and the road ahead. When it registers a swerve or sudden braking, it sends 10 seconds of video from before and after the event to a web server for later viewing by a driver and an instructor.

Not only are the videos useful for crash reconstruction, but more importantly (I think) is how they capture the near misses which happen LOTS to every driver, and lots of times unwittingly…until one watches the video. Watching the video, particularly with a driving instructor, is powerful mojo for change.

I don't know if it will work as well for teens watching them with, or being made to watch them by, a parent. Thing is, my daughter already weights my advice/council less than advice from teachers, the woman who cuts her hair, and other 11 year old girls. If, instead of a Gotcha! game with me, the camera thing was part of Illinois' graduated license requirements where maybe she has to log on and watch any videos once a week until she's 18, then I wouldn't have to wrestle her into the chair or pay her hair stylist to tell her to watch them.

I keep hoping the minimum driving age will get bumped to 18 before my daughter turns 16. But I think, if it's used to teach her by someone besides me, the camera's a brilliant compromise that could help her be a safer driver for life.