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Esurance Takes On Teen Texting and Driving

The DriveSafe program limits teens’ cell phone functionality and monitors driving behavior when they’re behind the wheel.

Direct-to-consumer insurance company Esurance has announced the release of DriveSafe, a driver safety program that prevents cellphone use among teen drivers and provides parents with feedback on their driving behavior.

Parents who enroll in the program receive a small telematics device to install in the onboard diagnostics port of their teen’s car, as well as instructions on how to download the Esurance DriveSafe app on their child’s phone. The device is free of charge to policyholders and includes hardware from Modus, a usage-based insurance technology provider, and Cellcontrol, which provides the text-blocking component. The companies have been working together for a few months, notably with Sprint.

[ See how Cellcontrol's technology works: This is What Text-Blocking Looks Like. ]

The device and app work together to monitor teen driving habits and limit texting, Internet use, and calling when the car is in motion. DriveSafe tracks data such as phone usage, car speed, hard braking, acceleration, mileage, location, and time of each trip. Data is not shared with Esurance or used to determine car insurance premiums.

After the device is activated, parents can access their personalized DriveSafe site to set preferences, choose to receive custom alerts about unsafe driving occurrences, and review details of recent trips. It should be noted that if parents block the calling functions, teens would still be able to access 911.

DriveSafe has recently been approved by the New York Department of Financial Services.

“It’s encouraging to see programs that empower parents with new tools to help keep their sons and daughters safe on the roads,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a release. “A combination of inattention and inexperience has far too often produced tragic results for teenage drivers.”

[See how the program works. ]

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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