Thursday, October 30, 2014

Automatic targets teen drivers with License+ service

Every time I get into my car and take a drive, short or long, a small dongle plugged into its onboard diagnostic port sends data - including location - to an app on my iPhone. I get a score on how efficient my driving is, and it's also simple to track all of my trips in a Google Spreadsheet through IFTTT integration. That dongle is from Automatic (US$99.99), a company that today announced a new service targeting teen drivers.

License+ is designed to help those kids who have just picked up a driver's license master their driving skills by providing coaching. License+ helps parents keep track of how their teen's driving skills are progressing (or regressing), while providing teens with encouragement.

License+ is a free update to the Automatic app that tracks the driving performance of the teen through a 100-driving-hour program. Parents review data from the app and can coach their kids to discuss progress.

Automatic CEO Thejo Kote says that "We believe parents want to be able to prepare their teens for the road ahead while respecting their freedom and privacy. License+ brings parents and teens together to improve the teen's skills during the first six months of independent driving, which are the most dangerous - while fostering mutual communication and trust."

Through the Automatic web dashboard, parents can see the teen's drive score, progress througout the 100-hour program, and ask about bad driving events like hard brakes and accelerations or speeding over 70 mph. If parents also want to monitor that the car isn't going to places it should be, a list of cities visited is also provided.

License+ gamifies learning driving skills, giving badges when a teen masters skills like night or highway driving. At the end of the 100 hour program, the driver gains a bronze, silver or gold completion medal based on their drive score throughout the program. Parents will also appreciate that Automatic can help teens by coaching them on how to get help in the event of a crash, decoding those cryptic Check Engine light codes, or even remembering where they parked the car.

It's a brilliant and free addition to a service that's already useful for any driver. If you have an Automatic dongle and a teenager, be sure to get the update as soon as possible.