Lemur Monitors SafeDriver Wireless Vehicle Monitor Review

The new SafeDriver by Lemur Monitors. This device monitors and reports distance traveled, average speed and records hard braking.

“When you can’t be with them…” is the tag line for the SafeDriver monitoring device from Lemur Monitors.  Some might say “Or when you can’t trust them,”…either way, the SafeDriver wireless monitoring device is a sweet little “don’t even think about it” mechanism for that new driver in the household.

The second in a series of monitoring devices manufactured by Lemur and I’ve already had three friends with new teen drivers ask if they can borrow it.  The SafeDriver monitor plugs into your car’s OBD II port and once the fob is synced, will report how far the auto traveled, the average speed of the trip and a nifty little feature that tells you whether or not there were any “sudden brakes” applied.  Yep.  Sudden braking.  As in, “OMG, I totally almost hit that car in front of me!  Thank God my parents weren’t here, they’d kill me.”  Well, ‘fess up because they’re going to ask you about it.

The device does not record the severity of the braking but does record how many times the vehicle braked hard.  And Lemur is fair and defines this as “a sudden brake is counted when the vehicle speed is reduced by 15 mph in less than two seconds”.  In other words, a hard brake.   Put the texting away because SafeDriver is going to rat you out.   And don’t even think of resetting or trying to mess with the fob.  Lemur is already two steps ahead by programming in a special tamper proof pin number so the results cannot be changed.  And if you really want to dig your hole further and attempt to remove the sensor from the OBD II port , the fob’s battery removed or an invalid pin number has been entered then the words TAMPER appear on the fob that can only be reset by entering the valid pin number.

SafeDriver Sensor and SafeDriver Fob

While new drivers or kids who really want to head out somewhere else instead of the library “like they told their old man now”, will not really like the SafeDriver, I know parents who love the idea of it.   One friend in particular is not so interested in catching her daughter out as she believes the SafeDriver is a useful tool to help her daughter navigate the perils of being a new driver.

“My idea of a hard brake and her idea of a hard brake are easily two different things,” she told me.  “If I am out driving with her, she hits the brakes and the fob doesn’t record it, that’s one thing.  But if she hits the brakes hard and the fob does record it, there could be several reasons why she had to brake hard and it’s a good training tool to sharpen her reflexes. It also helps define what a hard brake is and since I was there, she’s really limited on the “it was not a big deal, Mom.  The fob is just sensitive,’ remarks.  The device isn’t sensitive because I was there the first time she did it.  Like it or not, driving is not learned overnight.”

I am not a fan of hard braking and since I live in Indiana, I have to pay serious attention because most of the drivers here are basically clueless to anyone on the road besides themselves.   When I tested the SafeDriver, it worked perfectly in all respects and was very useful but I did not employ any movement that would cause it to record a brake.  This is surprising since I was sure the soccer mom in the minivan in front of me, who was far more interested in texting than in driving, would definitely cause me to score a brake.

With the good, comes the not so good.  It’s necessary to sync the device after inserting the sensor but  before you start the car according to the instructions.  If you’re trying to catch your new driver in a lie, it’s a little suspicious to go out there to start the car for them and attempt to hide the fob.  I’m not sure if this is really a “con” or not.  All new drivers should be prepared to accept and discuss the results of the SafeDriver and adjust their driving habits accordingly.

This is a very useful device for parents and new drivers alike and at $69.95, it’s a reasonable price to have this in a house with new drivers.

 

Product Information

Price:$69.95
Manufacturer:Lemur Monitors
Pros:
  • Easy to install, easy to sync up. Works well, useful too.
Cons:
  • Not really able to sync without the driver knowing for blind testing. Again, not sure if this is a con or not.
Posted in: Car Gear, Reviews

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Dewey October 4, 2010, 9:24 am

    I’ve seen things like this backfire on other parents. Continuous monitoring seems to produce a feeling of “if I didn’t get caught it’s not a problem.”

    I’d rather deal with the imperfections of the “honor” system instead.

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  • ottomatic28 October 4, 2010, 10:47 am

    interesting product at a fair price.

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  • Elizabeth Daugherty October 4, 2010, 11:31 am

    I tend to respectfully disagree with you. The article was about the tool, not how this tool is implemented. I believe that it is a useful learning tool to help new drivers but also keep them honest.

    The Honor System is a fine institution but if you haven’t brought up your children to respect and honor you then all you’re doing is giving them carte blanche to lie to you.

    I’m not here to debate parenting skills or suggest that Lemur Devices step in where parenting should and doesn’t. This device has many, many uses and much can be learned from the information it gleans from the automobile implementing it. Perhaps my article could have been written differently but I was having a go at teenage drivers and the Beach Boys’ song “Fun Fun Fun”.

    Sense of humor sold separately.

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  • Travis F October 4, 2010, 11:44 pm

    We offer a system that is also capable of monitoring teen driving. (http://www.carcheckup.com) so we hear the argument of spying on your teen and invasion of their privacy.

    I don’t think there is much of a difference between monitoring your teens grades with report cards (to monitor the learning of academic material in school) and monitoring their progress on learning the skills required to be a safe driver.

    They have to learn a ton of skills to be a successful driver. Driving is a learned skill, which means the only way they can get better is with practice. You can help them practice, see how their doing an give constructive tips to help them get better.

    It’s really not about playing “gottcha” with your teen…it’s about helping them be a better driver and accumulating the skills they need to be safe.

    If you’d like to see the great review of CarCheckup on the the-gadgeteer you can see it here http://the-gadgeteer.com/2010/07/27/carcheckup-review/

    We are a bit of a more premium solution as we help with monitoring all types of driver performance data with charts and graphs and we also provide easy to understand explanations of what is wrong with your car if your check engine light is on, but you might want to check it out.

    btw Elizabeth – I’m in Indiana as well and I agree with the clueless drivers, but take heart…I don’t think it’s JUST us Hoosiers…it think it’s everywhere. ;)

    Travis Funkhouser, CarCheckup
    http://www.carcheckup.com
    Visit our blog at http://www.carcheckup.com/blogs

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