UW-Whitewater student starts teen driving notification service

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 --- 6:30 p.m.

From looking out for pedestrians to monitoring your speed, following traffic lights and putting on your signal, obeying the rules of the road can be overwhelming for inexperienced drivers.

"I started out and I was pretty nervous. Everyone's nervous to drive," said Kacey Fuller, 18.

Combine that with distractions of the 21st century, like cell phones and iPods, and it's a recipe for disaster.

"There were 81 teen driving deaths in Wisconsin in 2011," said Christian Pedretti.

Pedretti remembers in high school when his parents put a GPS tracking device on his car to make sure he was safe. "I thought it was very intrusive and I felt like may parents didn't respect me."

Now a student at UW-Whitewater, he understand more where they're coming from, but still wanted to find a compromise between no supervision and not enough privacy.

"Even to this day, I'm 21 years old, and when I'm driving from Westby, Wis. to Whitewater to come back to school, my mother is just absolutely nervous," Pedretti said. "And so I figured, why not have all of the eyes that are already on the road watch after teen drivers?"

Christian and his business partner created bumper stickers that read, 'How's my driving?', and give a 1-800 number followed by a unique PIN. The number is connected to the parents' phones.

"This then allows a concerned following driver to directly contact the parents of that teen driver ahead of them in real time, with real emotion they can express the situation at hand," he explained.

"I think it's beneficial because it would make you a little more aware of what you're doing. It would make you focus on your driving," Fuller said.

"And it will definitely save the teens from getting the tickets for no seat belts or texting while driving and prevent the accidents, which is really big," said Ashley Warpula, 18.

In conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week coming up on Oct. 20, Pedretti recently signed an exclusive partnership with Just Drive of southeast Wis. The drivers' education franchise will begin distributing the bumper stickers to its students.

"Our goal has always been to prevent teen driving accidents and ultimately fatalities, and it's great that we're now able to do so," Pedretti said.

If you'd like to purchase the bumper sticker and phone number service, it's $7/month and is available through the website: teengrasshopper.com.

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