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Guest contributor

Help! We’re about to have teen drivers in the house

Life360 Guest Blogger: Marc Saltzman, USA Today columnist

As a father of three teenagers – twin 16-year-olds and a 14-year-old – life can be hectic in our house, as you can imagine (or relate). Along with high school, they all work part-time, take dance classes, and have busy social lives.

To complicate matters somewhat, my job takes me all over North America as a journalist, broadcaster and speaker, plus my wife Kellie is a part-time kick-box instructor and heavily involved in charity work.

Ya, as I said, it’s busy. But we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Providing they pass their driving exam, this spring our boy-girl twins will trade their learner’s permit for a full-blown driver’s license, which means no more dad beside them in the passenger seat, fewer Ubers, and (hopefully) less calls to pick them up from friend’s houses late at night.

As many parents know, this is both an exciting time (for them) and a scary one (for mom and dad).

And so, we’ve been chatting as a family about some safeguards that need to be in place for when they borrow the car. I’m talking some peace of mind for parents to know where their kids are when they’re behind the wheel, and that they’re driving responsibly. For teen drivers, they get some reassurance that if they get lost — or worse, find themselves in an accident — mom and dad could know where they are.

That’s why the Life360 app was so intriguing to me, which I heard about from a couple of friends and colleagues. I did some homework to check reviews, both from users and reviewers, and then showed the app to my wife. It was a no-brainer: we decided it will be a big part of our 2019 New Year’s Resolution.

After all, we want to allow our kids to go out on their own and enjoy the independence (car = freedom). Yet, at the same time, we simply want an easy-to-use tool that lets us know where they are and how they’re driving. Hey, I’m sure they’ll appreciate not seeing the “where are you?” texts a few times a day.

In other words, Life360 is a win-win. It allows us to stay connected as a family. Personally, I like the idea of receiving automated alerts when my kids arrive at home, school or work. I look forward to knowing where they are and without me having to constantly ask them to check in with us (reluctantly)!

Hopefully it won’t happen, of course, but I love the idea of Life360 using the sensors in your phone to detect if there’s a crash, and automatically call emergency crews and notify select contacts. After all, if the kids get in a wreck, they understandably may be a little shaken up, and so this automates the process. I’m excited that the app also connects you to roadside assistance, for those smaller but equally frustrating moments like when you lock the keys in the car, get a flat tire, or run out of gas – which is likely to happen at some point.

And something parents will no doubt love: Life360 delivers a weekly driving analysis report that lets you know if the drivers were distracted or if there are other bad driving habits to improve like speeding and hard braking. We’ll position it as a learning tool, like temporary training wheels, that won’t be on forever. Wish us luck! As extra incentive, maybe we’ll reward them for a spotless driving record, like more car time, some extra money to go out with their friends, or something of the sort.

In one of my future blog posts, I’ll tell you how it went with installing the app on our iOS and Android devices, what features we liked best (and why), and what it’s like being connected through a unified platform for everyone in the family.

Until then, wishing you – and your family – a happy and safe new year!

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