Good driver? Prove it - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Good driver? Prove it

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May 19,2005

Albany- Before you hand over the keys to your teen you might want to install something like a car chip in their car.

It's a tiny portable, black box. It continuously collects and stores information from your car's computer control systems and can give parents a glimpse at what your teen driver is doing when they hop behind the wheel.

Brett Tipler is a junior at Albany High School. He's been driving for a year and agreed to install the car chip in his car for a week to find out what kind of driver he really is. He's not sure he's ready for the results.

"I really don't want to see how bad of a driver I am," said Brett Tipler, Albany High School student.

The chip plugs into the diagnostic port of the car and monitors things like braking, acceleration, and speed. It's already taught Brett.

"I brake too hard," said Tipler.

"His braking is somewhat erratic at times, but never a lot of excessive speed if you ride with him," said Brett's father, Don Tipler.

His parents agree and so did the device. So, if you hit the brakes too hard or drive too fast.

"If you did anything bad once, or whatever, go a certain speed it didn't like, it beeped constantly, and wouldn't stop," said Brett.

"There it goes, beeping, and it will do it every time," said Tipler.

The chip alerts the driver to sudden accelerations and quick stops, to keep driver aware and it seems to work.

"I couldn't ignore it, It was annoying," said Brett.

Something his parents say might help teach him a lesson.

"He said it was annoying, but it kept reminding him," said Leigh Tipler, Brett's mother.

Even Brett admits, it maybe doing it's job. "I guess consciously, it just made me drive a little bit better just because of the beeping, it was annoying," said Brett.

The chip allows parents to keep track of their driving teens when they can't be in the car, but Brett questions whether that's necessary.

"I'm kind of iffy on that, It's kind of good for the way that she knows how I drive, but other than that, it's kind of an invasion of privacy," said Tipler.

"No I don't worry about him, he's really good," said Leigh Tipler.

Brett's results seem to prove that, he had a couple of quick accelerations and several hard stops, but no extreme stops or accelerations. His father Don says, he's pleased with Brett's overall results and can see where the chip would be a helpful tool.

"I think it would help a lot of people and especially those who have problems driving and they don't understand why you could actually track the data," said Don Tipler.

Brett says, his driving may have improved, just to stop the beeping. "Throughout the week as it progressed it started beeping less and less I'm guessing because I started doing what it wanted," said Brett.

In the end, it may have been more of a lesson than Brett wants to admit. "I'd have to say yes, this experience was interesting, worthwhile, it enlightened me," said Tipler.

The chip may eventually allow drivers to save money on their car insurance. Currently, Progressive Insurance is running a pilot program in Minnesota that allows drivers to use similar car chips and determine whether or not they want to submit the information to their insurance company.

The nice thing is if the results aren't as good as you had hoped you can decide whether to submit the information. However, no information, no discount.

The chip also can help with the performance of your car, because it checks your fuel efficiency and can provide drivers with other information. The Car Chip can be found at Sears, The Auto Zone, and on the Internet. The basic chip sells for $139.

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