A fool-proof teen driver tracking device?

The keys to the family car are basically a teen's passport to freedom, but a new tracking device could help parents curb the wanderlust in young drivers.

The keys to the family car are a teen's passport to freedom, but a new tracking device could help parents curb the wanderlust in young drivers.

The iTeen365 is the GPS equivalent of a toddler leash for cars.

Parents can purchase the iTeen365 device online, have it professionally installed in their vehicle, set up a geofence online, and sit back and relax. The tracking system takes care of the rest.

GPS technology embedded in the device tracks the vehicle location, which is visible online at the iTeen365 Web site with a user account. The online reporting tool also stores up to four months of detailed driving reports, including breadcrumb trails of where the vehicle travelled and events where the driver exceeded the speed zone limits. Parents can choose to receive text or e-mail alerts when the vehicle leaves or enters specified zones.

Unlike some aftermarket products, such as Hughes Telematics In-Drive, the iTeen365 device is hard-wired into the vehicle's ignition column and battery, and mounted behind the dash to avoid being seen or tampered with. In that sense, this may be the most foolproof teen tracking device on the market because clever drivers won't be able to easily uninstall it. In fact, when the time comes to pass the device on to a second teen driver or you no longer have need for it, you will need to set up an appointment to have it removed. The installation costs about $65, which is included in the $289 price for the device, and you will have to pay to remove it. This type of peace of mind doesn't come cheap--iTeen365 charges between $17.95 to $21.95 per month for its services, depending on the length of the contract.

As with any tracking device, security and privacy is a top concern. Joel McBreen, the CEO of iTrack, which markets the iTeen365 product, explains that the system is a watered-down version of its commercial grade product CelTrak, its sister company in Ireland. CelTrak monitors fleet vehicles, but McBreen saw an opportunity to create a consumer product out of the existing technology and launched a suite of products earlier this year using a proprietary vehicle GPS device, and leveraging the existing data, account management, and online tools from CelTrak.

But iTrack's business model could pose a few privacy problems. The installers do not require proof of ownership of the vehicle, or even that you have permission to install the device on the vehicle. This means that a jealous or suspicious spouse can order the device and have it installed on their partner's vehicle. In fact, iTrack markets an identical product called iSpouse365, that in McBreen's words, is a "less expensive alternative to hiring a private detective to follow a spouse or gather information."

McBreen also concedes that there are no ways to make sure the driver is aware that the device is installed, explaining that the burden of disclosure is passed to whomever orders the product.

 

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