Automatic and USAA Team Up to Keep Teens Safe

For teenagers, cars are a path to freedom. They are also a leading health risk for 14–18 year olds, responsible for more than 130,000 injuries every year. Despite this, only 25% of parents have had a serious conversation about the skills and responsibilities of driving with their teen.

This week is National Teen Safe Driving Week, and to support teen safety, we’ve teamed up with USAA to offer License+ to their members in the U.S. USAA offers License+ on a voluntary basis and at no cost to eligible members with a driver aged 15 to 19 listed on their USAA auto policy. Every member enrolled in the program receives an Automatic connected car adapter that plugs into a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic port. Automatic evaluates driving data in order to score driving habits and improve the teen’s driving skills.

Automatic designed License+ to help foster that conversation in a constructive way. Our 100-hour driving program helps new drivers learn safe driving habits. It also gives parents information that helps them be effective driving coaches while letting teens learn how to drive, earning badges and medals to reinforce good driving habits.

This is more than just a partnership for us. This is a chance to team up with another organization that values protecting its members and make driving safer for all. We know the first six months after getting a license are the most difficult and risky of any new driver. We wanted to empower teens as they head out on the road and to help their parents to be a part of that process. But this isn’t about creating monitoring software for parents to keep tabs on their teens.

“I feel the need for NSA-level data,” said one parent. “I want to know what they are doing in my car the instant they do it.”

However, our research showed that monitoring simply doesn’t work for parents that are already overwhelmed with too much data. And believe it or not, teens don’t like being spied on.

To make learning to drive a better, safer and more effective experience, we spoke with parents and teens. Our unique approach allowed us to create a program that gave teens the freedom to learn good driving habits on their own while still benefit from the support of an experienced driver.

Driving smarter is important. Good driving habits keep you safe, and also help you save time and money. The value is obvious. But we think learning how to drive should be fun. We wanted to help families avoid the tense, loud, “Jeez! Calm down, Dad!” moments that defined so many early driving experiences. In fact, we believe open communication is more effective at improving the learning experience than the threat of consequences.

“Having a conversation is more important than punishment,” one parent told us.

We agree. License+ was built to foster a dialog and build trust between parents and teens. The coach’s web dashboard provides just the right amount of information so they can stay up-to-date without being overwhelmed, and the driver doesn’t feel like Big Mother is constantly watching. And at the end of the week, an activity summary is emailed to both driver and coach so they can review the driver’s progress together.

The way we show progress is simple. Teens earn badges for mastering skills like smooth braking and highway driving as they progress through the 100-hour program. Upon completion, they receive a Drive Score which allows them to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal. They can also show off their driving skills by sharing badges with family and friends via social media, text and email. Trip information is accessible through the teen’s Automatic License+ app and parents can stay connected through a web dashboard for quick updates on their teen’s progress through License+, including badges earned and driving score.

Parents can also use the dashboard to send encouraging notes and congratulation emails directly to their teen for their accomplishments.

What does this mean about my data? We have always said that we don’t share your data with anyone, unless you specifically ask us to. And we stick by that. If you’re a USAA member that qualifies for this program, and you sign up for a free device through their member store, you’re agreeing to release some of your driving data for the License+ program. If you’re a USAA member, and own an Automatic device & use it (or use License+), and are not part of this pilot, don’t worry, your data will not be shared with anyone.

Parents helping teens become better drivers? Check. Teens learning a lifelong skill and enjoying independence? Double check. Becoming a good driver should be a great experience, one where teens seek advice from parents, brag about progress, and practice responsible decision-making. It’s a win-win.

For more information about License+ and teen driver safety, please visit