How To Use Endomondo

How To Use Endomondo

In this article we are going to cover the basic functionality of Endomondo. To this end we have divided the basics into 4 different sections that take a user from downloading the app all the way through their first run. As you will find out, using Endomondo is a breeze and really fun too. They have made it as simple and as straight forward as they can so that as many people who want to use it can. All walkthroughs below show how to download and use Endomondo on an Android OS (in this case a Galaxy Nexus running ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) 4.0.2).

Downloading App | Configuring App | Using App | Editing Run Data

Downloading the Endmondo App

Downloading the app can either be done through the Android Market app on your phone or through the Market website (https://market.android.com/).

  1. Open Market on your phone
  2. Search for “Endomondo”
  3. Find Endomondo (Free) or Endomondo Pro ($0.99)
  4. Click on the “Download” button
  5. Click on the “Accept & download” button
  6. Once the app has downloaded you can click on the “Open” button
  7. Endomondo will ask you to sign in. We chose the Facebook option because its easy.
  8. You will be prompted to accept connecting Facebook with Endomondo.
  9. Once the authorization has occurred, you can add friends to Endomondo directly from Facebook. We skipped this step.
  10. After you’re done you will be taken to the next screen where you can begin tracking your very first run.

Configuring Endmondo

Endmonodo Comprehensive Settings

Endomondo is fairly simple and only has a few settings you want to make sure that you are going to be using. The first that I recommend using is the Online Tracking option which will automatically upload your workouts to the Endomondo website. This makes things simple for you and lets you keep all your runs in a single place, even if you use different phones throughout the course of your use of Endomondo.

I also recommend enabling both of the audio settings. Audio Coach will give you audio cues when you have run each mile and the pace at which you ran that mile (or km based upon user preferences). If you are running a goal run you will also get some info on how much longer you can expect to be running given the pace of your last mile (or km). Pep Talk is a cool feature that allows your friends to send you verbal message to you on your runs as they happen. While the pep talked is delivered in a robotic voice and spoken quickly, each message is personalized with who it is from. This is a really cool and especially helpful if you are using the app while doing a race. Friends and loved ones can give you an encouraging word at just the right moment to give you that mental edge.

Finally, at the bottom of the Settings screen they have a link to your phone’s location settings. I recommend selecting them all so that your phone has the best chance of getting a good location fix so that your GPS tracks look the most true to life.

Using the Endomondo on a Run

Endomondo is dead simple to use while on a run. To get started, simply click on the big green Start button at the bottom left of the app screen. Or, as I prefer to do, I click on the 10 second countdown button on the bottom right. The 10 second countdown button ends with an audible countdown and then the electronic encouragement to, “Free your endorphins.” Its a little corny, but I like it.

If you need to pause the run, just click the pause button that replaces the green pause button on the bottom left. To stop the run click the red stop button on the bottom right.

Easy as pie.

Editing And Sharing Runs

Editing

Endomondo Edit Workouts

Endomondo, like all other GPS tracking apps, is not perfect. But what it lacks in perfect tracking technology it makes up for with editing. Once a run is uploaded to the Endomondo website, which is normally done automatically, you simply go to the website and log in. All your workouts are available for you to see by clicking on the “Workout” button at the top of the page. This is going to bring you to calendar that displays all your workouts for the current month.

To begin editing, click on the workout that you need to fix and it will pull up that workout in the map below the calendar. On the right hand side of the screen next to the map of your workout you will see the image to the left for your particular workout. Not all of the field can be edited, but most can.

You can edit:

  • Workout Title
  • Start Time
  • Distance
  • Duration
  • Elevation
  • Heart Rate
  • Note Field

All editing is saved once you press the save button and there is no back button to revert changes you made back to the original info.

Sharing

Endomondo also lets you share runs on other platforms. Users can post a run to Facebook (or a host of other online communities), send a link to a friend in an email, chat message, or forum link, or post their workout in an iframe on their own website or blog. There are over 320 different ways to share your run on Endomondo – a number that is nothing to sniff at. If Endomondo gets anything right it is the sharing and social aspect of working out.

Endomondo also give you access to the raw data from the app. You can download workouts in .tcx or as a .gpx file. This will allow you to export the data into other fitness or GPS tracking software.

This is part of our in-depth look at Endomondo. You can check out the summary of the running tests we performed or read each of results in more detail (Track Tests | Suburban Tests | Nature Tests | Indoor Tests).

How To Install GPS Tracking Apps Remotely To Find A Lost Or Stolen Android Cell Phone

Did you know that if you are using an Android cell phone you can download apps to your cell phone from the web? That is right, you do not even have to have your phone in your possession! This is an incredibly important thing for someone who has a lost cell phone because it means you can download and install a GPS tracking app onto your phone from your home or work computer. What you will find below is how to install Plan B, a free cell phone recovery app from the makers of Lookout Mobile Security, and how to start tracking your phone AFTER you already lost it.

How to Do I Install A Cell Phone Tracking App On A Phone I Already Lost?

  1. Go to the Android Market
  2. Log in using the GMail account that you set up your phone with
  3. Type “Plan B” in the search field and press the “Enter” key
  4. Click on the Install button
  5. A pop up will ask you to which phone you want to install the tracking app
  6. Click on another install button on the bottom of the screen
  7. Get the confirmation message that the app is being downloaded to your phone

The one thing that you have to keep in mind is that the phone does need to be on. To say the same thing twice, you cannot install an app remotely when the phone is off. You will only be told by the app store that your app will be installed shortly, so if the phone is off the only way that you will be able to tell is because you received no messages from Plan B on your Gmail account.

Installing Plan B App Store Affirmative

Another thing to think about is that when you install the app remotely the phone will receive a notification that the app has been downloaded. The app also sends an email once it has found your location to the GMail address associated with your phone – which means you will get an email notification on your phone too. Once the Plan B app is installed you will get the following on the screen of your cell phone:

All of these notifications are fine if the phone is simply lost, but it can be a tip off to a theif if the phone was stolen. This is one of the major drawbacks of using something like Plan B.

Once Plan B Has Been Installed: How It Works

After Plan B is installed it will sent emails to the GMail account associated with your phone. The emails that were sent to me looked like this:

Plan B Gmail Messages

This app worked even with my GPS turned off. When I checked the phone after the program was installed my GPS was turned back on.

Apps The Can Be Remotely Installed Successfully

As of right now we have only really tested Plan B as way to track a phone that has already been lost or stolen. Once we do some additional testing we will compile a list of all apps here. If you already know of one, please leave a comment letting us know.

Here is a list of app that I have tested and found to work with a remote install:

How To Stop Verizon From Tracking Your Cell Phone And Selling Your Personal Info

Verizon has joined the ranks of several large telecommunications companies who are seeking to make more money off of the information that they serve to you. Information, such as the websites you visit, the places you go, where you live, or what your interests might be, are going to start to be tracked by Verizon so that they can create “aggregate” reports for their own internal use and for sale to third parties.

Verizon is simply trying to make more money off of you and your family. If you have no problem with them tailoring advertisements based on your interests and fine GPS location then you have can rest knowing that Verizon has already signed you up for this. If you DO NOT WANT Verizon to track you in this way they you might want to tell them to stop. You can do so by calling 1-866-211-0874 or by following these steps on the internet:

  1. Visit www.vzw.com/myprivacy
  2. Log in to your account using your username and password
  3. Scroll down to the ‘Customer Proprietary Network Information’ heading
  4. Click The Minus (-) Button [some people will see a Plus (+) button here for some reason]
  5. Check ‘Don’t Share My CPNI’ in the All Cell Phone Numbers row
  6. Click Save Changes
  7. Scroll down to the ‘Business & Marketing Reports’ heading
  8. Check ‘Don’t Use My Information for Aggregate Reports’ in the All Cell Phone Numbers row
  9. Click Save Changes
  10. Scroll Down to ‘Relevant Mobile Advertising’
  11. Click ‘Don’t Use My Demographic Info for Banners’ in the All Cell Phone Numbers row
  12. Click Save Changes

It was really easy for me to do. If you know of anyone who might want to opt out you should be a good friend and share it with them.

Verizon Response

The following was taken from a news article and it represents Verizon’s response to some of the hubbub about the plan:

Michelle Gilbert, Verizon Public Relations Manger for the Michigan / Indiana / Kentucky region, has released the following statement:

“Protecting data and safeguarding privacy are high priorities at Verizon. Verizon Wireless recently introduced a new program that involves the creation of new types of aggregate business and marketing reports. In addition, Verizon Wireless and Verizon Telecom also introduced new ways to advertise to mobile users and wireline broadband customers.

“For the business and marketing reports offered by Verizon Wireless, records about websites visited, cell phone locations and other consumer data will be combined (or aggregated) to compile reports that provide businesses with insights about their customers. For example, these insights may include the demographics (age ranges, gender, etc.) and interests (such as “pet lovers” or “tennis enthusiasts”) of visitors to a Web site, or commuters who might pass an outdoor billboard. These aggregate reports could be used by web publishers to help provide content that is more appealing to users, or to help advertisers better select the ads they will display on outdoor billboards or at other venues.

“The new advertising initiatives offered by Verizon Wireless and Verizon Online will help brands tailor the type of advertising customers see on their mobile phones and online when using Verizon FiOS Internet, DSL or dial-up services. The Verizon Wireless relevant ad program will help brands present relevant ads on customers’ mobile devices by using the postal address and other consumer information, such as their device type, demographic and interest information. For instance, if you live near a restaurant, you may see ads for that restaurant. The Verizon Online relevant ads program will help brands determine if customers fit within their targeted geography by postal addresses, helping brands better reach their customers online.”

How To Download Cell Phone Tracking Software

If you are thinking about putting cell phone tracking software on your phone you might have several questions before you get started. Probably the very first thing you want to know is which program you should download. There are several great places to find some lists of tracking apps. We recommend this one: Free GPS Cell Phone Tracking

If you follow the link you will find a long list of tracking applications that can be downloaded on many different types of smartphones. All the major brands are represented – iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. If you don’t have a smart phone then you might want to take a look at some of the other tracking apps that we covered in our post about free GPS tracking applications and software. There is plenty there that can be used on many different types of cell phones.

What you will find in these links is free cell phone tracking software. There is a lot of paid software out there. These can cost you anywhere between $5 from your app store to $60 for full fledged cell phone spy software. Some of these are worth the money and then some. Others are not worth the crap the monkeys who coded the software evacuated from their bowels while mashing away at the keyboard. This might be because they are worthless programs or because you can do the same exact thing with free apps that cost you nothing (the unnecessary reiteration is intentional!). Choosing the right software for your needs is obviously important, so take your time in determining exactly what you need the cell phone tracking software for and educate yourself on what some of the different free options are going to be able to do for you. They are often extremely powerful and capable of doing exactly what you want without having to fork out any more cash.

Once you have picked your app then the next question is going to be how to download the cell phone tracking software. This really depends on what type of cell phone you have. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect for each type of phone:

How to Download Tracking Software To A Smartphone

Smartphones benefit from being better than other, normal cell phones. They are, after all, smart. Almost every major brand of cell phone has an app store that you can go to and download the software to your phone automatically. The best part is, once it is downloaded, all the installation is taken care of for you. You don’t need to know a ton of stuff to get it work. Just choose what you want, tell it to download, and you are done.

Here is an example from an Android cell phone. There are two main ways that you can download the ever popular InstaMapper cell phone tracking software. You can go to the Android market and then search for “GPS Tracker.” Then look for the result withe InstaMapper, LLC as the publisher. Click on install and you will download and install the app seamlessly.

If you have a QR code reader just scan this:

InstaMapper Cell Phone Tracking Software QR Code

It really is that easy to download software with a smart phone.

How to Download Tracking Software To A Regular Cell Phone

GPS tracking software becomes a little more difficult when you are not working with the easy, breezy smartphones. Don’t take my word for it. Here is what the folks at InstaMapper recommend for downloading their software when using one of the Motorola iDen phones that you can get on the cheap:

The easiest way to Install InstaMapper on your phone is by loading it over-the-air using this tool provided by Sprint:

http://144.230.114.35/adp1/FUN/index.jsp?output=100

The tool will ask you for a .zip file, which you can get here.

Then go to Menu -> Games & Apps -> Download Apps. Click on “New Purchases”. If you don’t see the app there, navigate to Menu -> My Info on your phone and hit “Edit”. If Line 1 is empty, enter your full phone number there (starting with the area code). Then try downloading the app again.

Alternatively, you can install the app from your PC using a regular USB cable and Motorola’s iDEN Java Application Loader (JAL) software. The latter can be downloaded directly from Motorola here (free registration required; click “join MotoDev” when they ask you for your login information). After JAL is installed, connect your phone to the PC with a USB cable, start JAL, and hit “Connect to phone”. Unzip InstaMapper tracking software to a folder on your PC, then hit “Download” and select “GPSTracker.jad” from that folder. Hit “Disconnect” when the transfer completes.

Now start the app you just downloaded — it will be under “Java Apps”, possibly on the second screen (hit “More”). The app is called “GPS Tracker” and has an icon that looks like a satellite. Enter the device id from your InstaMapper account. Click “Save”. The phone will ask for your permission to access the GPS chip. Say “yes”. When the status message changes from “Locating…” to “Tracking…” your should be able to see the location of your phone on InstaMapper.

Note: the app will pop into foreground during the first few days of operation (the intention here is to discourage covert tracking). Unfortunately, on Motorola phones a notification sound is played whenever an application requests to be run in the foreground. We recommend leaving the app in the foreground during the first few days that it’s running, or muting notification sounds in the phone’s settings.

This is certainly doable, but it does break down significantly for someone who really is not too certain what they are doing.

Special Note On “Cell Phone Spy” Software

Unfortunately, the experience users have to go through to install cell phone spy software is a lot like installing something on a regular cell phone. This is because a lot of the publishers out there for this type of software don’t go through app stores and just sell them directly to customers. This makes these things notoriously difficult to install and get running. To me, this is their greatest failing. How can you use this type of spy software if you can’t even get it loaded on a phone?

If you are going to go this route I would urge extreme caution. Only buy something with a solid money back guarantee so you can recoup your money if you can’t get it installed correctly or if your phone isn’t supported.

How To Download Cell Phone Tracking Software

If you are trying to download and install mobile phone tracking software then you should hope that you have a smartphone. :) In reality, it is very easy to download most trackers to your cell – even if you just have a regular old phone. If all else fails, follow the instructions on the website for the software you are trying to download.

How To Find A Stolen Cell Phone With GPS Tracking

Finding that your cell phone was been stolen can be a gut-wrenching experience.  It is your connection to the world and all of a sudden it is ripped from your life, falling into the hands of a complete stranger. Questions have to be racing through your mind at this point.  Can I get it back? Can I keep my data private? What will happen to all my pictures?

Thankfully, we live in a world that has more to it than those who seek to steal mobile phones.  We also have innovators who create applications for cell phones that keep our personal data safe and track down a stolen phone. A group of these good guys have created an app called Lookout Mobile Security and it is currently free to download on BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Mobile smartphones.  It does more than just use GPS tracking to find a stolen cell phone.  It is a full ledge smartphone security suite that will let you protect your phone from physical and virtual threats.

How can I track my stolen cell phone?

Smartphones are an investment. If you buy one without a free upgrade deal or sign-up promotion it can cost hundreds of dollars. High end phones range between $500-$600 before the contracts and promotions bring the price down to (just) $200. Quite frankly, it does not matter what price you buy at  – any smartphone is going to be a really expensive phone. Until the cell phone boom it was not normal for people to carry such an expensive piece of hardware with them everywhere, especially one that is so easily lost or stolen.  When it gets stolen you want to find a way to get it back, now.

GPS tracking provides the solution for a lot of people who want to get their stolen cell phone back. By leveraging the smartphone’s location finding capabilities and the data plan that is almost assuredly included with the phone, users of the Lookout Mobile Security app will be able to find the location of their cell phone  (provided that it is on, of course).

Now this brings up one of the three HUGE caveats that need to be understood about tracking a stolen cell phone. The first is that you must have already downloaded the GPS tracking app before the phone is stolen.  In other words, the cell phone must still be in your possession when you put the app on it. You cannot download any apps that will let you track your stolen mobile remotely. Sorry, but that is just the way that it is. UPDATE:  Android phones CAN install certain apps remotely that will let you track down a lost or stolen phone.  You can find a write up we did here: How To Install GPS Tracking Apps Remotely To Find A Lost Or Stolen Android Cell Phone

The second caveat is that the cell phone must be turned on for the Lookout Mobile Security app or any other stolen phone recovery app to work. The phone needs to be on for several reasons. The first is that it needs to be able to receive the message from the Lookout servers to get the phone to use its GPS chip to determine the cell phone’s location. This is the same with all stolen cell phone recovery programs. Mobile Me, Lookout, et al work this way.

The second reason the phone must be on is that it power is required to use the cell phone towers and/or GPS chip to figure out where the phone is. A phone that is unable to find its own location is of no use to someone trying to find out where it is!

The third caveat is that the phone must be in range of a cell tower. In order to track the phone, it must in contact with the network to receive messages and to communicate with you, the owner.  Both reception and transmission of messages is hindered if the phone is outside the boundary of its network or has some physical impediment to cell signals.  Without the network you are screwed.

But given that the phone is on, it is in network range, and you have already downloaded the tracking app, how helpful will one of these apps truly be?  Can it provide an exact location for a lost phone?

Precision depends on several important factors.  Sometimes a location will be very good, reliably providing an exact address for the location of your phone.  Other times it simply be a reasonable guess, one just good enough to give you a general idea where the phone might be.

Here is picture taken from the web interface of a GPS tracking app that will be illustrative of just how exact tracking can be:

Stolen Phone Tracking Satellite

If you have good eyes you will see that the circle around the phone is fairly large. It says it has an accuracy of 1,870 meters, or a little over 1 mile. The center of the circle, represented by a cell phone icon, is a pretty accurate representation of where my phone is, being off my perhaps several hundred feet.

This underscores the point that with GPS tracking apps you have little knowledge beforehand about how accurate the location is going to be. There are too many factors that can cause GPS errors. For example, my home is of an older, more solid construction than newer homes might be. I have had great difficulty getting a solid GPS fix for my location on several different devices. I may measure my location one day and get one set of coordinates only to measure it again the next day and get coordinates hundreds of feet away from previous measurements. While this is not good for tracking down a lost cell phone with GPS, it is reality.

In addition to the make up of the place where the cell phone has been taken you also have to consider other aspects of location that may come into play. Large surrounding buildings, lots of trees, canyon walls, and other inhospitable terrain features can cause GPS tracking equipment to give inaccurate readings. These can skew the position information just as wildly as the composition of the home.

You should not let these factors prevent you from downloading an app that will help you recover your stolen cell phone. You have no way of knowing who is going to steal it or where they are going to take it. For all you know, you could get an almost exact location for the cell phone, like in this picture:

Stolen Phone GPS Tracking

My phone was in the same exact place when I used Lookout to find its location previously (see pic above this one to see the difference). I went from getting a location somewhere within a mile of the place they put my phone to being within 26 feet. That is a very great difference and it just goes to show how tricky GPS tracking can be for any device – let alone a cell phone.

But this location is really spot on. I live exactly where the tracking app puts me. Checking the location of a lost or stolen phone more than once is a good idea!

How can I get back my stolen cell phone?

Now that you have figured out the location of your phone there are a couple of things that you can do to get your cell phone back. The first, wisest and easiest is to call the police. If you were the victim of a mugging or other assault the police will probably be more than happy to use your information to find the criminal. They will want to get the crook off the street, especially since they were willing to be violent over something as simple as a cell phone.  They also have an eye witness (you!) that can place the suspect at the scene, sealing the case for them and getting another criminal off the streets. There are several news stories circulating the press that confirm this.

Another thing that you could do to get your cell phone back is confront the thief and get them to give you your cell phone back. Just don’t pull an OJ and do it at gun point. You’ll probably go to prison yourself for being a total idiot. Instead, make it safe and do it in a public place. This also only really works if it is stolen by somebody that you know. Using shame and public confrontation is a great way to get the phone back once you know who stole it.

How can I wipe the data on my stolen cell phone?

Let’s say that you have tried to recover your phone but the thief is refusing to hand over the good.  Maybe it was taken over the border by a drug runner and now lies in drug-cartel-infested territory and your value your life more than your cell phone. Fine, be a wuss.  You still don’t have to let the thief know who are your emergency contacts.  You can still stop them from seeing all those awesome photos you took last night at the bar. You can still keep your personal data personal.

Applications like Lookout Mobile Security allow users to wipe cell phone data clean.  All personal information will be discretely thrown overboard with concrete shoes on, never to be seen again. Bad guys can’t steal your contact information or learn how to target you for future crimes from your cell phone. The wipe feature does cost a monthly subscription fee – but I can imagine only using it for one month, the month your cell phone was stolen in.

If you can’t get your stolen cell phone back with GPS tracking then at least you can wipe it clean.

Can I mess with the person who stole my cell phone?

One of the really cool things about the Lookout app is that you can make your phone scream. It is a great way to prove that you are the owner of the phone in those public confrontations or to help the police find the phone after they raid the location where your phone is.

A simple command from the app’s web interface and you can turn your phone into a screaming, vibrating, and flashing nightmare for the unsuspecting crook.  This was originally designed to help users find a lost cell phone, but it really would be a great trick to play on a crook.

Stolen Cell Phone GPS Tracking Apps

Here is a list of some tracking apps that are designed to help you recover your lost or stolen cell phone:

Obviously free is better.

Pay It Forward, Share this Post

If you found this post useful, feel free to share it with your friends so that they don’t have to worry about their cell phone if it gets stolen. Always having a tracking app on hand is a good way to make sure they can retrieve their phone. You can help them by:

How To Use GPS Car Tracking Systems

There are many different uses for GPS car tracking systems.  How you decide to use this technology and for what purpose is almost entirely case specific.  There are some things about this technology that do transcend your particular use of it, namely, that the device is going to be using the Global Positioning System to determine its location through the process of trilateration and that the device will either store this data locally (a data logger) or will send this data to a third party (a real time GPS tracker).  Once this data is ready to be processed, users will then interact with their GPS coordinates through a map interface that is going to resemble the ever popular Google Maps.

Each tracking company is going to provide certain features or UI bells and whistles that might appeal to certain submarkets of individuals looking to use a GPS car tracking system.  For example, a tracking system designed to monitor teen drivers is going to differ from a system designed as a theft recovery system even though the same fundamental process is going on in the actual GPS tracking device and in the GPS software behind the scenes.  But because the information that end users want is going to be different the different companies generally tailor their products for certain purposes.

What follows is a listing of some of the more common areas where a person may want to use a car tracking system, with each area having a few tips on how to best make use of GPS tracking to get the most out of the system.

Track a Teen Driver

When it comes to driving, one of the most important things for a parent with a teen driver to do is to make sure that they are correctly and safely operating the vehicle.  You often spend hours with your teen showing them how to drive properly, how to obey the speed limit, how to make safe lane changes, and how to maneuver the various hazards that driving throws at you.  Your efforts are painstaking and appear to produce a lot of results.

Little do you know, however, that once your teen is out driving alone or with their group of friends they turn into an entirely different driver.  They are reckless, risk takers who live in the moment without thinking about the potential consequences of their actions.  They get a little hot headed and that is very dangerous.

GPS tracking can be particularly helpful in assisting a parent both in determining their teen’s driving habits when they are not around and in monitoring their progress so they can discipline their teen’s driving appropriately.

But how can one use a GPS car tracking systems more effectively when tracking their teens?  Here are some ideas:

  • Make sure your teen is aware of the tracking device.  It won’t act as a deterrent to bad driving habits if the teen does not know that it exists.
  • Set very clear guidelines for how your teen should be driving the car as well as the rewards and punishments associated with good and bad driving.  Honest and open communication works best for teenagers and for parents, that way if you have to bring the hammer you can point to your conversations and show that you really meant what you said when you talked about the family driving rules.
  • Monitor your teen’s driving in small bits each day.  If you wait until the end of the month to look at the driving data then you will have to sift through 30 days of driving to find out if any rules have been broken.  It is much better to spend 5 minutes going over the GPS tracking software than it is to spend 3 hours at the end of the month doing it.
  • Get a real time GPS tracking device.  These are superior pieces of technology when compared to simple data loggers.  While real time trackers do generally have battery issues, this can easily be overcome by hard wiring the device to run off of the car’s power supply.  You will appreciate the ability to know where your teen is at any given moment of the day when they are using the car.

If you want to track your teen but want to do so very cheaply then you might want to consider going with a cell phone as your tracking device.  These powerful gadgets can easily be outfitted with some free GPS tracking software, making it some of the cheapest GPS tracking around.  You might not get a full fledged GPS car tracking system like you would if you went with a more commercial package – but GPS data is GPS data and you should be able to figure it out.

Monitor a Wayward Spouse

Another important use of car tracking systems is to help spouses find out the truth.  It is very sad some spouses cheat on one another (in my opinion this should never happen, but it does require a lot of explaining and now it not the place).  What makes it even worse, is that the cheating is often ongoing and done in secret – all the while the cheater is acting normal.  This can put the spouse who is being cheated on in danger of contracting various diseases in addition to being an incredible emotional and psychological blow.

As I have mentioned before, it is perfected acceptable for a spouse to track their spouse with GPS.  I don’t see it as any violation of trust and it certainly isn’t wrong.  Now you can do evil with GPS tracking, but that doesn’t mean that the actual act of tracking was wrong in an of itself.

For those that want to use GPS tracking to see if a spouse is cheating you might want to consider the follow things:

  • Get a covert vehicle tracking device.  Chances are that if you are going to be tracking a potential cheater then you want to do so in a way that will not let them know that you are tracking them.  There are plenty of small, highly portable GPS devices out on the market so you will have your pick. I would probably recommend getting a data logger since these generally let you track for much longer periods of time than a real time tracker would normally allow (weeks instead of days).
  • Be secretive. This not only goes for the GPS car tracking device you purchase, but also in how you go about installing the device, retrieving it, and monitoring your spouse’s activity. When you install the device do so at night or when the car is parked in a secluded location, like a garage. Retrieving the device should follow a similar pattern. Also, when you look at the tracking data on your GPS tracking software be sure that you hide your tracks. This will involve deleting any web browsing history that your session logged as well as the cookie that your log in created. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but is good if your spouse has a habit of checking internet histories.
  • Tell a friend about it. The last thing you want to do is keep the fact that you suspect your spouse of cheating and have installed a tracking device in their car a secret. Don’t just tell any friend, but only hold a very reliable, tight lipped friend with the information. That way you can release some of the burden from your own soul and get some input on how to go about doing things.
  • Don’t do something evil with the knowledge. Once you find out the truth on whether or not your spouse is cheating you need to make good decisions with that knowledge. If you find that they are cheating tell a close friend and get immediate help. The blow to your soul can be very grave indeed and you are going to need to do a lot of healing.  Just don’t make matters worse by doing something illegal, immoral, or dangerous to yourself.

In most instances, creating your own spouse tracking GPS is not going to be an option – so you might expect to shell out a good chunk of change to pull off this type of tracking effort. I think a safe estimate is anywhere between $150-$250 for the tracker.

Improve Fleet Performance

Another important use of GPS systems for cars is in the role of fleet tracking and management.  Since this is mostly a commercial application it is probably going to be outside the scope of most of the readers here, so suffice it to say that businesses of that employ commercial fleets of one shape or another can benefit significantly from having one of these devices employed.

Generally speaking, they offer a functionality and features that are hard to find in the consumer market and are designed to create efficiencies that most normal people are unconcerned about – like cutting down idling time, optimizing routes, and monitoring driver activity.  As such, I will keep my recommendations short and few:

  • Plan how to implement the system before you make your purchase.  If you need to talk with several different providers to see how they recommend you employ their system.
  • Roll out the plan to your employees in a non-confrontational manner.  They need to know that this system is going to improve the business, not be used to watch employees like Big Brother.
  • And finally, use common sense in how you move your workers toward an effective use of the fleet tracking system.  Not everyone is going to be gun ho about it at the beginning so make sure changes happen slowly but deliberately so that they can see the improvement first hand.

Fleet managers and business owners should really consider using car tracking systems since they have been shown to significantly increase the efficiency of fleets, reduce costs, and increase revenue.

Theft Recovery

Finally, the last category under which most GPS car tracking devices fall is theft recovery.  While it is certainly not the most common use of GPS in cars, it certainly is an effective one. Just imagine how useful it would be if you actually suffered a stolen vehicle?

You wake up and realize that your car is no longer in your driveway.  A small, sudden panic slow crescendos until your heart is beating so loud you can hardly hear yourself think.  A million thoughts scream in your mind until one voice calms them all.  “Check where your car is online.”

You race to the computer and log in to your online GPS car tracking system.  In the time it takes to boot up your computer and start using Mozilla Firefox you have an exact location for your car.  You immediately phone the police who thank you for your GPS coordinates and let you know that they are going to recover you car.

A few hours later, the police have recovered your vehicle and apprehended a suspect in relation to your car theft – all thanks to GPS car tracking.

Here are some tips to make sure that you understand how your GPS auto tracking device is going to work best for you and your theft recovery hopes:

  • Install the tracking device in a hidden location near the back of the car.  The reason I like the back of the car is that it is often not searched by thieves and might be out of range of any GPS tracking blocker that a thief might try to use.
  • Make sure that the battery is charged or is hard wired to the vehicle’s power supply.  The later option is a little more difficult if you do place your tracking device at the back of the car, so some might want to put the tracker at the front of the car anyway.
  • Use a reliable service.  Lojack is probably the biggest name out there when it comes to theft recovery systems, but there are certainly others.

A short word about home made theft recovery systems: it doesn’t seem wise to me.  There are a lot of things that could go wrong with a homemade GPS system, so making sure that you have all your ducks in a row is super important.  It is certainly possible, I just wouldn’t recommend it.

Conclusion

GPS car tracking systems are going to be the norm in a few years or in a decade or two.  This is without question the way that auto makers, cell phone companies, and personal GPS navigation device manufaturers are taking the consumer market.  As this happens we are going to see even more ways to use this new, fun, and innovative technology to make our lives better and create a more verdant future.

How To Find A Lost Cell Phone With GPS Tracking

I lost my cell phone. Help!

We have all been there before – our precious cell phone has suddenly gone missing and we have no idea where it is.  We do a quick check of all the places that we normally put it; it isn’t there.  We rehash every event from the time we last remember having our mobile phone to the time when we first noticed that it was missing.  Where did we go?  Who were we with?  What was I wearing?

We try calling our cell phone in the hope that the ringer is on and that it is somewhere nearby.  We pace frantically through our home and run out to the car in the hopes of hearing our awesome ringtone.

But when all of this fails us, we are simply left with worry.  All we can do is hope that some switch will flip in our brain and we will all of a sudden “remember” exactly where it is.

How can we increase the likelihood of actually finding a lost cell phone? GPS tracking!

Here’s how this technology can help:

Lost Cell Phone No GPS Tracking

  1. Have a GPS tracking app on your phone. This will either need to be already installed or you will need to install it remotely (see here for tips on remote installation).
  2. Access your phone’s location using the web. Most tracking apps have some sort of web interface through which you can access your tracking information remotely. Do this; it should tell you where your phone is.

Yes, finding a lost cell phone by using a free tracking apps is that easy. In our tests of various apps we have found that the whole process can take just a few minutes to complete, even if you don’t already have the software installed on your phone. Conditions do need to be right for this to work process to work. They include:

  1. Your cell phone must be on.
  2. Your cell phone must have a connection to your network or be connected to WiFi.
  3. Your cell phone must be able to get messages from GPS satellites.

If you fail in any one of these items you will not be able to us GPS tracking to find your mobile. Sorry.

Understanding How GPS Tracking Works For Cell Phone Recovery

If you have not already heard, GPS stands for the Global Positioning System and is a series of satellites that emit a radio signal that can be read by specialized GPS receivers. These receivers use the information encoded in the radio signals to do a little math called trilateration.  Once that equation is done, the GPS device will know its exact location on the globe. Pretty niffty, right?

GPS systems have become increasingly smaller over the years and have made their way into pretty much every single smarphone on the market.  Chances are, if you own a newer cell phone that runs Android or iOS then you have GPS in your phone.

GPS tracking occurs when the position information is gathered by the device. This information is either stored locally or sent out from the device of the network. The former process is called data logging, and is only GPS tracking of a sort.  The latter process is what most people think of when they talk about GPS tracking and is often referred to as real-time GPS tracking. If you are trying to find a lost cell phone they you are trying to use the second variety.

Once the cell phone has found its exact location using GPS (or by a very similar mathematical process using cell phone tower signals) it can send that information out over the wireless network to which it is connected. The cell phone only needs to be on.  Most tracking programs will work behind the scenes with little to no action taken by a user.

Therefore, the cell phone must be on so that it can process the signals it is receiving from the GPS satellites and talk over the cell phone network. It must have a network connection of some kind to send the information that it gathers from the satellites.  This information then travels across the network to the company that is helping you track your phone. Finally, it must be able to get messages from the GPS satellites in order to find its position in the world.  If it has no position information it will have nothing to communicate.

Finding A Good (Free) GPS Tracking App To Find Your Phone

Finding the right app for your particular brand of phone is definitely not easy.  The biggest problem is choice, especially for Android users. You might want to check with your phone’s particular app store or see one of these posts for potential apps:

  1. Our post on How To Install GPS Tracking Apps Remotely To Find A Lost Or Stolen Android Cell Phone also contains a list of all apps that can be downloaded and installed to your phone remotely that we have personally tested on our Android phones.
  2. We also have a list of applications and software that can be downloaded here: Free GPS Tracking Applications and Software
  3. We have still another list of free options out there for cell phone tracking

Also, if you feel like paying for something that you could do for yourself for free then you could always go with a one of your provider’s tracking plans. I have seen a family plan for a little as $5 a month depending on your current service agreement. While this is a nominal payment, it is ∞ more expensive than free! If you can get the same service for free, why not do it?

A Final Word: Data Plans

No matter what your final choice for an app is, you are definitely going to need to have a data plan that will allow for the transmission of data across the network.  Most people already have one anyway (you own a smartphone, after all).  Those that do not have a data plan are often not worried about losing a phone that only costs $40 to replace!

Data plans are important because your cell phone will have to send the information about its position across the network if you want to track the phone in real time. You can’t find your lost cell phone without your cell phone telling you where it is. It can’t do that if it doesn’t have any way to send its coordinates out over a wireless network.

I would even recommend getting a pretty robust data plan because of all the fun and interesting apps that it will let you experiment with. For example, cell phones are great for a variety of fitness activities A lot of people take their phone with them anyway when they run for safety purposes, listen to music, or make phone calls.  Why not also use it to track your runs? There a ton of apps out there that track distance, average speed and time spent running.  Most even use websites that let you share workouts with friends or stay accountable to an online community. (Check out review of Endomondo for just one app in this market.)

This is just one additional application.  There are many more, from social apps to navigation apps, that can leverage the power of GPS to make life easier, more interesting or just plain fun.

Related articles:

How To Use GPS Real Time Tracking Effectively

Here is a quick little story ripped from the headlines about the effective use of GPS real time tracking:

According to reports coming out of Boston, police recently made use of GPS real time tracking system to seize 360 pounds of marijuana and to make 3 arrests.

Upon executing a search warrant at a certain location, the police found a crate containing the illegal substance. After a brief field test that verified the contents of the crate, they were then able to get a second search warrant that allowed them to place a special GPS real time tracking device that allowed them to follow the crate to a new location.

The three suspects in the case were also observed trying to move the crate by loading it into a van. It was at this time that DEA agents made a move and captured them.

According to DEA estimates, the 360 pounds of marijuana would have had a street value of around $700,000.

There are a few different interesting aspects of this example that I thought were worthy of note. The first is that the police obtained a warrant to install the real time tracking device inside the crate. We have seen in two different cases where the use of GPS tracking has come under direct attack in the court system. Earlier this year, a Wisconsin court ruled that warrantless GPS tracking is legal. Then a few months later, a New York court ruled that warrantedless GPS tracking is illegal. It is no wonder that the police in this case wanted to play it safe and get a warrant before installing any GPS device.

It is also rather interesting the speed with which the police were able to get a warrant. I don’t have a time line sitting in front of me, but it sure sounds like the police were able to get what they needed in just an hour or so after discovering the illegal drugs. That is pretty fast, but is probably related to the fact that they verified that the substance in question was actually something that is illegal to posses.

The second important thing is the the police actually chose a GPS real time tracking system for this particular situation. When you want to track something that you want to take action on, like a fleet vehicle or a teen driver or a distressed spouse, then you need to have some real time information in order to take action on. Sometimes data logging GPS trackers will simply not cut it and you need something that is going to give you on demand information. The police realized this in this situation and choose an appropriate tracker. Are you doing the same for your tracking needs?

The third and final interesting thing is that the police let the criminals engage in enough activity to sufficiently incriminate themselves before swooping in for the arrest. If you are being tracked by the police with GPS then the last thing in the world you should be doing is committing a crime, but because the police were covert about they were able to install the device and catch the criminals read handed. This is important for those of use who will want to do some covert GPS vehicle tracking ourselves. Are we being wise about our device placement? Are we making sure we are in a position to take action on our real time data?

It can be a very fruitful exercise to examine the effective use of GPS tracking devices. It will help our minds better understand all of the useful applications of the great technology and examine our own practices. When we examine how we make use of GPS technology against these real life examples we are better able to see our own shortcomings and see areas for improvement. If we are using GPS real time tracking, do you think you can see any ways to improve your own use of this powerful technology?

How To Evaluate a GPS Tracking Device

There is a sea of choices when it comes to GPS tracking devices today.  You have a wide range of tracking manufacturers to choose from as well as a great many providers to sift through in your search for the tracking system that is best going to fit your particular needs. This task can seem a little daunting to someone just starting out in the world of GPS powered tracking, but if you let a few controlling principles guide you in your decisions then you should be able to easily navigate this sea until you have found port with GPS tracking system that works out best for you and your needs.

One of the main problems that people suffer from is an abundance of choice. While we think we like to keep our options open, the human mind can only filter and process so much information at any given time. If we simply stare at the 20-50 different GPS tracking devices that exist on the market then we are going to get nowhere fast. We will despair of finding a device and either choose a suboptimal tracker or not even make a purchase all together. I hope that was follows is a series of useful filters through which you can sift through the many choices available to you in your quest to evaluate the GPS tracking device that is best for you:

Determine if you need real time tracking or if you are content with data logging. This is mainly going to depend on the type of tracking that you want your device to do for you and will generally be a very person specific question. Some applications just do better with a real time tracker while others do just fine with a data logger. I like to think of it this way, if you need to know information as it happens then you will want a real time tracking device. If you are fine with figuring out where something has been after the fact, then a data logger is going to meet your needs just fine. Fortunately, there are personal GPS tracking devices that fall into both camps. It is also often the case that a tracking provider will provide both data logging and real time devices for their customers to purchase.

Choose a tracking device with the appropriate battery life.  After deciding which style of tracker you are purchasing it is time to begin considering the battery life of your device. As I am sure we all know, most electronic devices are limited by their power supply or battery life. If they have week batteries then it doesn’t matter how great the device is, we simply can’t use it for that long or else the battery will run out. If we had to speak in general terms, most data loggers will have a longer battery life than a real time GPS tracking device. This is mainly because real time trackers have to communicate their information via a cell phone modem which is an extra drain on the device’s power supply. Some real time trackers overcome this problem by hardwiring the device to a power supply. This is particularly common in GPS vehicle tracking devices that are used in commercial applications. While this is also possible for other uses, like tracking a teen’s car or possibly even tracking, it is most often used for fleet vehicle tracking.

Choose a a GPS tracking device that is going to be the appropriate size for your proposed tracking purpose. If you are planning on doing any sort of covert GPS vehicle tracking then you really need to think about the size of the device. Something that is small and easily attached to or hidden under your target is a top priority since covert tracking only really works as long as it goes undetected. Once the target has found the device they will be able to remove it or change their behavior, resulting in skewed results. Generally speaking, you are going to want a portable GPS tracking device. This will allow you to move it various locations as the need arises and even track multiple targets over a short period of time. If the device is not portable then will lose some of the tracking flexibility that you might be looking for.

Find out if the GPS tracking software run by your company is going to meet your needs. As you might suspect, there is a host of different GPS tracking software packages that really cater to different tracking functions. For example, a child GPS tracking device is not going to have the same user interface or software package as a GPS car tracking device. They are used for completely different purposes by different types of people. They most certainly gather their information the same way (via GPS satellites and a process called trilateration), but what they do with this information and how they present it to their customers can sometimes be radically different.

The reasons for this are pretty obvious. The information a parent might want to gather from their child GPS tracking device is going to center around the location of their child. Have they stayed within their specified GeoFence? Where were they at 3:30 PM today when they were supposed to be home from school? Did they get to soccer practice on time? These are the types of questions that a parent is going to want to know and this is the information that GPS trackign software geared for child tracking devices is going to be able to provide.

Similarly, GPS car tracking devices have their own set of metrics that need to be reported and they will have software that provides that to end users. Things like vehicle speed, lane position, and past locations are all wanted by car tracking users.  This is obviously different information than what the child tracking folks want and will therefore result in a different type of tracking software.

Even among different providers of the same type of tracking service you will get different GPS tracking software packages and features. Be sure to check out screen shots of the tracking system and see if they have a live demo for you to explore. There is nothing more important than getting a hands on feel for how the software will actually work and how you will interact with the information that your device will communicate.

Finally, consider all the costs involved with your new purchase. Real time tracking devices generally cost more up front and have a reoccurring subscription that you have to maintain if you are going to continue to use the device. This subscription generally costs just as much as a cell phone plan (around $40) if you want to have true real time tracking. Data loggers, on the other hand, do not really have any reoccurring costs and they generally are significantly cheaper than real time trackers. While they don’t have a lot of the same cool features that a real time GPS tracking device might have, they are just as accurate and just as useful for certain tracking applications.

    In the final analysis, choosing the right GPS tracking device for you is going to be very situational. What might work for one person is not going to work for another. But if you follow these simple steps and use them as a framework through which to evaluate your GPS tracking purchase you should come out on the other side with a useful tracking device that fits your particular need for that particular situation.

    How To Create Your Very Own GPS Tracking System For Your Car

    Creating your very own GPS system for cars is really a lot easier than you think.  In days long past you would to have had a hell of a lot of technical experience, a great understanding of how to create software, and a lot of money to get something like real-time GPS tracking to work for yourself.  You would have had to buy a ton of equipment that you would never normally use and spend countless hours coding software and making firmaware so that your devices could interact with your software.  This process would be both time and money intensive and very few of us would be able to get through it.

    Today, it is a totally different story.  All you need to create an awesome, real-time GPS tracking system for your car is a navigational GPS that has bluetooth capabilities and a cell phone that can run a free GPS tracking application called 3dtracking.  It will also help to have a good cell phone plan with your provider that has plenty of data sending capabilities.  That is it.

    The Equipment Needed

    The GPS

    The very first thing that you are going to need is going to be a GPS navigation unit.  This is because the 3dtracking software must have access to coordinates generated by a GPS device in order to provide real-time GPS tracking information.  Without some form of GPS information to feed your cell phone that is loaded up with this free GPS tracking software you are not going to be able to get yoru desired results.

    While I don’t personally have a navigational GPS, I have heard some good things about the following devices that have Bluetooth capabilities:

    If these prices are still to high for you personally then you might want to consider trying to find a refurbished GPS.  A refurbished device can sometimes come at a very steep discount (from 20%-50% in some cases) and it should work just as well as a ‘new’ device.

    In some cases you won’t even need to own a stand alone car navigation GPS for this system to work. If you own a phone with GPS tracking capabilities already installed into the phone then you don’t need to connect to an external GPS device via Bluetooth.  Everything that you are going to need is going to be inside the case of that cell phone.

    The Cell Phone

    3dtracking published a list of compatible cell phones for their system.  If you do not own one of these phones then you will not be able to use this system as I am describing it.  Here is a list of the cell phones that is currently compatible with this software:

    • Lenovo P930
    • LG KS10
    • Nokia 3230
    • Nokia 3250
    • Nokia 5320
    • Nokia 5500
    • Nokia 5700
    • Nokia 6110
    • Nokia 6120
    • Nokia 6121
    • Nokia 6210
    • Nokia 6220
    • Nokia 6260
    • Nokia 6290
    • Nokia 6600
    • Nokia 6620
    • Nokia 6630
    • Nokia 6670
    • Nokia 6680
    • Nokia 6681
    • Nokia 6682
    • Nokia 7610
    • Nokia E50
    • Nokia E51
    • Nokia E60
    • Nokia E61
    • Nokia E61i
    • Nokia E62
    • Nokia E63
    • Nokia E65
    • Nokia E66
    • Nokia E70
    • Nokia E71
    • Nokia E90
    • Nokia N70
    • Nokia N71
    • Nokia N72
    • Nokia N73
    • Nokia N75
    • Nokia N76
    • Nokia N77
    • Nokia N78
    • Nokia N79
    • Nokia N80
    • Nokia N81
    • Nokia N81 8GB
    • Nokia N82
    • Nokia N85
    • Nokia N90
    • Nokia N91
    • Nokia N92
    • Nokia N93
    • Nokia N93i
    • Nokia N95
    • Nokia N95 8GB
    • Nokia N96
    • Panasonic X700
    • Panasonic X800
    • Samsung SGH-D720
    • Samsung SGH-D730
    • Samsung SGH-i400
    • Samsung SGH-i520
    • Samsung SGH-Z600

    (Be sure to check the compatible cell phone list over at 3dtracking’s website in case this list has become out of date)

    Some of these phones are rather inexpensive (some can be found for under $20) while others will cost over $200.  Which phone you choose will depend largely on your needs for the cell phone and whether or not you want to use it for more than just GPS tracking.

    Once you have one of these phones you are going to want to make sure that you have a good data plan for your phone.  This way you can send data to the 3dtracking servers without incurring exorbitant fees.  Right now, AT&T wireless is offering a unlimited data plan for its phones for $35 a month.  This would put your access to real-time GPS tracking information for your car at roughly $1.17 per day.

    3dtracking software

    In order to download the free 3dtracking software simply go here.  There are onpage instructions for what to do depending on whether or not you have a Windows-based PDA or a smart phone.  Once you have downloaded the application and installed it on your phone or PDA you will do a brief 3 step application process and will be ready to begin tracking with your cell phone right away.

    Total Cost to You

    The startup cost of this GPS tracking system for cars can be pretty steep, coming in at over $400 if you buy some of the higher end equipment.  With a $35 unlimited data plan that would bring the first year total out of pocket expense to somewhere between $800 and $900.  The second year of operation would be $420.  While this certainly isn’t cheap, if you already have the GPS navigation unit and the compatible cell phone you won’t need to spend any money out of pocket so your expense will probably be $0 unless you have to upgrade the data plan on your phone to handle the load.  Free GPS tracking is certainly better than not free GPS tracking.

    What Will You Track?

    From where I sit there are two main applications for this type of GPS tracking system for cars.  They are tracking a teen driver and snooping on a spouse suspected of cheating.  For the former you should be completely up front and honest with your teen about what you are doing to their phone and why you are doing it.  They should know that you are concerned about their safety and that you want to make their driving experience as safe as possible.  Then you should work on some sensible rewards and punishments for your teen drivers.  Making sure they they buy into your GPS tracking system is key if it is going to be useful to them and to you.

    IF you are tracking a spouse that you suspect of cheating you should not let them know that you are tracking them.  To do this, you might have to buy a special phone that you put in their car for them so that they don’t realize what is going on.  You will have to leave the phone on and recharge the battery often, but the ability to know if they are cheating or not can certainly be worth the price.

    But this set-up, especially one where your phone has GPS capabilities built in, can be used in many more applicaitons.  A few of them are to:

    There are practically as many things that you can do with this technology as you can dream up, so sit down, grab a beer, and dream.  This GPS tracking system for cars is definitely going to blow your mind if you let it.

    How to Reward and Punish Your Teens Driving Habits

    Teen’s are terrible drivers.  Their unique combination of inexperience and raging hormones make them them the most likely among all age ranges to get into fatal car crashes.  As concerned parents we want to get our teens to drive safely and to obey the rules of the road, especially when driving home at night or when their friends are with them in the car.  These are the times that we wish that the beneficial effect that we have on our teen’s driving would be felt the most, but these are often the times when our child is the least likely to drive like we are right there with them.

    Teen Car Crash
    You never want to receiver that call from the police that your teen has been in a a car crash. Using GPS tracking in their car is a great way to help them drive like you are there with them.

    I have already talked extensively about how GPS tracking can put you in the car with your teen, so I am not going to rehash that discussion here in full.  Instead, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some of the different parenting techniques that we can employ once we have installed the GPS tracking device inside out teen’s car. We will begin with a discussion of the teen’s rewards and follow that up with a discussion of the punishments associated with bad driving practices.

    But before we do, we should look at some of these important teen tracking tips:

    • Tell your teen about the tracker – You cannot make the punishment and reward system for safe driving work for your family if your teen is unaware that the GPS tracking device exists.  Tell them about your plan in such a way that they will get on board with your desire to monitor their driving activity.  Even if they don’t like the idea at first, they will warm up to it after you lay out some effective rewards and punishment.
    • Be very clear about the rewards – Communicating clear and worthwhile rewards to your teen is going to make this whole process a lot easy.  They need to know the answer to the question “What’s in it for me?” question right away.   If you can’t communicate that to the in 5 minutes then you need to rethink your reward system communication.
    • Be even clearer about the punishments – You are probably going to need to punish your teen driver at one point in time.  The best way to do so is to communicate the consequences of their actions very, very clearly.  They need to know exactly what is going to happen to them when they do something wrong so that there is no room for them wiggle out of the consequences of the action that the GPS tracker caught them doing.
    • Make it fun and safe – Teen’s love the idea of “fun” and, as a parent, if you can make something that you want them do be fun then you are well on your way to getting them to successfully accomplish that which you want them to.  It can be very satisfying as a parent to watch your teen act safely because they value it and think it is “fun” – you know that all your hard work is really paying off!

    How To Reward Your Teen

    Rewarding your teen should be more about character than about materialistic things.  What I mean by this is that you want to reward your teen with added responsibility and freedom than with cool toys and nice clothes.  You want your teen to grow up and experience what life is like for themselves, not treat them like a little child who is motivated by empty and shallow things.  So in order to do that you need to sit down and think about what ways you can reward your child’s good driving habits that will enable them to mature and grow into the full person that they are meant to be.

    An example reward might be something like an extended curfew or additional car use privledges.  By extending their curfew you are communicating to your teen that their driving habits are safe and that they are worthy to be trusted.  The more personal freedom that you give your teen, the more that you teach them being wise and safe is a good thing to do, the more you will teach your teen to be an upstanding member of society and a good person.

    Another similar example of this is by giving your teen additional car use privledges.  You could let them drive the car to a friends house or to the mall.  You might even begin to trust them with driving their siblings to after school activities or sporting events.  Either way, your teen will learn that their behavior is being rewarded by giving them greater access to the family vehicle.

    So that covers the actual rewards that one might think of giving their teen, but what about the things that the teen will be rewarded for? You obviously want to reward them for good driving habits, but what exactly are the habits that you most want to reward?

    Here is a list of some of the more important driving practices:

    • Obeying the speed limit – This is very easy to monitor using a GPS tracking device for cars.  Since they take constant measurements of the vehicles position all they need to do to calucluate speed is take the distance traveled and divide it by the time elapsed.  Most GPS devices can monitor speed even if they aren’t a GPS tracking device, so it is pretty easy for parents to monitor this aspect of their teen’s driving.  (This is also very important for saving money on gas costs!)
    • Taking turns at appropriate speeds – Because you can monitor their speed it is easy enough to find their speed when taking turns.  Taking a turn too fast can signify inexperience on the part of your teen or that they pulled out in front of oncoming traffic, both things that you want to try and avoid if possible.
    • Making smooth starts and stops – Brakes are expensive and engines like to opperate under gradual increases of speed.  A smart, safe driver will treat their car right and reduce the need for preventable maintenance on their vehicle.
    • No erratic driving patterns – Tracking units are very percise, with some models being able to tell which lane a vehicle is in!  If your teen is switching lanes wildly then you will know that they are not driving safely.  You can also be able to see that their vehicle changes lanes well or makes turns in an appropriate fashion.

    If your teen meets your safe driving requirement then it is time to reward them, but if they don’t you need to dole out punishments.

    How To Punish Your Teen

    When punishing your teen for poor driving I would recommend going with character punishments.  A teenager must know that the consequences of bad driving are very real and very, very serious.  Lives are on the line every time you step behind the wheel and a teen should be able to feel that when they do something stupid with a car.

    A character punish could be something as sever as a suspension of car driving privileges, but it can also be something not necessarily car related.  In my opinion, taking away a teen’s driving privileges should only be done in the most dire conditions.   This is mainly because a teen cannot learn to drive safely if they are not driving at all, but also because it can be very convenient for a family to have an additional driver in the house – especially if they help with some of the driving responsibilities that the family has.

    Some more modest character punishment that you might consider could be:

    • Suspension of computer privileges
    • Limits on cell phone usage
    • Making them stay home when normally they would allowed to go out
    • Limiting their TV watching
    • Ending access to video game systems or computer games
    • Making their curfew earlier in the evening
    • Having them do some sort of task as “punishment” – like clear brush, pick up trash on the side of the highway, or visit accident victims in the hospital

    All of these consequences for bad driving won’t work for every teen, but if you can find the right combination for your teen then you stand a good chance of getting them to drive safely with a solid combination of rewards and punishments.

    How To Set Up The System

    If your teen meets your driving requirements then it is time to give them some rewards.  I recommend that you set some type of quota based on the number of hours driven rather on a number of days or just deciding to reward your teen whenever you feel like it.  The more experience your teen gets behind the wheel the more likely they are to drive safely when they are out of the house and out on their own.

    I definitely recommend starting small.  If they can last the first 100 hours of driving and drive in such a way that they honor your family’s good driving practices then they can get one of the minor character rewards set up in your system.  Maybe you grant them some additional free time for them to do with what they will or you begin asking them to drive a younger sibling to one of their practices once a week.

    100 hours certainly isn’t a hard and fast rule, but when you think about 100 hours can add up really fast, especially if you live far away from a lot of things in your life.  A 15 minute drive to school in the morning and then another 15 minutes home turns into 100 hours in 200 days.  That is approximately one school year – and that is only if they drive to school. With all the time they spend heading out to the movies or over to a friends house the time is really going to add up fast.  Before you know, after 3 months they are going to be ready for their first reward if they have driven well.

    I also recommend that when you punish a teen it is because of repeat offenses.  So you might knock their curfew back 15 minutes if they perform 3 sudden stops over a 3 month period.  Or you might suspend their cell phone use for violating the speed limit two times over a 6 month period.  Feel free to get creative with your own set of rules – just make sure that you live up to the same standard as your teen!

    With GPS, Teen Drivers Can Be Safe Drivers

    Teen Driver

    If you work your system correctly and you know your teen driver then you can get them to drive safely even if you aren’t in the car with them.  By installing GPS tracking device in their car and by setting up a quality, well-communicated reward and punishment system you can make safe driving something that everyone in your family is able to do – even if they are inexperienced and raging with hormones.  It is important to note that is not going to be the solution for every family.  Some GPS tracking systems can cost hundreds of dollars on the outset and still have a reoccuring subscription fee equivalent to a cell phone plan.  But for those families that can afford something like this it can empower you as a parent to help make your teen a safe driver.