Cool Car Gadgets That Help the Little Beginner Driver in Your Life


If your kids are at or near driving age, it may behoove you to prepare your car for the inevitable beating it's about to take and the inevitable heart attacks you're about to face as your wee one (now grown) hits the road. I got the chance to test two cool new technologies that add interesting features to your car and are available after-market so you don't have to worry about upgrading your (kid's) clunker.


Mobile-Eye's C2-270 detection system offers collision detection and warnings, like those found in fancier cars and SUVs, but also adds some incredible features that could mean the difference between life and death.

The device fits under your rearview mirror and includes a tiny readout that shows the distance to the car in front of you as well as various warnings. Besides a beep when you're getting too close to the vehicle ahead, the C2-270 can scan the road and see when you're leaving your lane without hitting the turn signal -- and when there are pedestrians in front of you. That's right: This thing senses bikes and pedestrians in daylight (not so much at night) and can even read speed signs, although that functionality is not yet implemented in the readout.

Priced at a hefty $649 ($199 extra for the visual display), this gadget probably isn't one you'll pick up on a whim. But it could help kids who aren't good at gauging distances when they brake. Some insurance companies offer a discount to drivers who have these installed, so look into it if you suspect you might be able to save a little cash.

The second product will be interesting for parents who want to keep an eye on their cars and, in the process, ensure that their new driver isn't taking his or her friends on a five-hour road trip. The Viper SmartStart is a remote starting system that works with most vehicles, and a new feature adds some decidedly interesting functionality.

First, you can use the SmartStart to start your car from anywhere in the world. For example, you can run it for a few minutes even while you're on vacation to ensure the battery doesn't run down that month. Or you can open the door or trunk for someone who needs to get in but doesn't particularly need a key.

The GPS features are really helpful for parents. The service allows you to see where the car is at all times, anywhere in the world. You can also get an alert if the vehicle leaves a certain pre-set area or is speeding. The technology allows you to set a curfew for the car or an alert if it appears in range of a certain Wi-Fi hotspot.

While you can't make it come to a stop remotely -- that could be dangerous -- you can get definitive proof that your son or daughter is visiting Craft Barn without your express permission.

The service costs $69 a year and the device costs $299 plus installation.

Both of these tools add a decidedly high-tech bit of safety to your rookie driver's vehicle and, while pricey, could be worth the peace-of-mind.

Would you install a tracking gadget in the car when your teen is learning to drive?

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