Helpful parent or big brother? Now OnStar tracks teen drivers

It's every teen's worst nightmare - General Motors' telematics service OnStar has launched a new trial of a system designed to enable parents to keep track of their children.

OnStar Family Link, unveiled last week by the Detroit giant, allows parents at home to log onto a portal with a map that shows the location of the vehicle at any time, provided by the vehicle's on-board GPS system.

The firm says that it is designed to give worried parents piece of mind when their children are using the vehicle.

Accompanying the tracking functionality is an alerts service, which automatically sends the location to parents via email or text message at a pre-specified date, time and interval.

"What parent hasn’t asked their teenaged driver to call or send a text when they arrive somewhere, only to not hear from them?" said OnStar boss Linda Marshall.

"Family Link’s Vehicle Locate feature lets a parent check on their child’s progress or help determine when he/she might be home safe and sound."

OnStar says that in the future, it will consider updating this alert service to cover elements of driver behavior such as speed and geographic boundaries, along with an arrival/departure alert service.

At the moment, the trial is being rolled out to 10,000 OnStar customers in the US, with the firm saying that the interest and comments from the trial will determine further details about the launch and pricing possibilities.

Speedbump, an Android app which bills itself a 'teen driving monitor' and can monitor a driver's speed before alerting a parent, costs $9.99 a month to use.