Parents of new teenage drivers may feel a complex mix of emotions. There’s the pride that their child has achieved this landmark on the path to adulthood, but there’s also the rightful concern that comes with the knowledge that driving can be dangerous even for the most experienced drivers. After all, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for 15 to 18-year olds. Worrying is to be expected.

Now car manufacturers offer technology that could help alleviate some of the worry for parents (or potentially cause more, depending on what the technology reveals about their child’s driving habits). According to an article from the New York Times, driving monitors not only allow parents to track their teenager’s driving activity, but also set parameters around the teen’s driving, such as a maximum speed. When the driver exceeds the set speed limit, the monitor will issue a warning and record the event.

Monitors can be set to do a variety of other things that might help to keep a teen driver safe as well, including setting a maximum volume for the car stereo or not even allowing the stereo to be turned on until the driver’s seatbelt is buckled.

Is This Spying?

Parents will probably not be surprised to hear their teenager argue that the use of driving monitors constitutes spying on them. Of course, parents have the right to take these steps if they feel they are necessary to keep their teenager (and the people those teenagers share the road with) safe.

One way that safety specialists are positioning these systems are as a conversation starter between parent and teen driver. The parent can review the report card generated by the driving monitor and use it to open a dialogue about driving safely. The parent can ask questions to understand what happened and identify gaps in the teenager’s driving education that they can then fill.

Ultimately, this is one more tool that will hopefully reduce the number of car wrecks that involve teenagers.