It's bad news for boy racers: Big Brother is watching you - and so are your parents on a new in-car video camera that records how motorists drive.
The palm-sized device, to be launched in Britain this month, is fixed to the windshield beneath the rear-view mirror and captures any dangerous or erratic driving.
Parents can then download the colour footage onto a computer to see - and hear - how their children behave behind the wheel.
The $2,100 camera, which is being compared to the "black box'' used on airliners to record flight details, was invented by an Australian, developed in the United States and has been approved for sale in Britain.
So far, the device, called DriveCam, has been used mainly by fleet car companies who use it to monitor their drivers and to provide evidence for insurance claims, but the makers are also planning to market the camera as a "car nanny.''
Gary Rayner, who invented the camera after reading about the car crash that killed Princess Diana and the lack of information about the moments leading up to her death, said: "It's an ideal way to keep an eye on the kids' driving. "Parents, like fleet managers, can see bad driving behaviour before it turns into accidents and give their children advice.''
More than 3,000 people die on British roads every year and a quarter of the victims are drivers aged between 17 and 25. Rayner says the device will save lives. It has reduced road deaths in America, where it has been fitted in 30,000 fleet vehicles, he said.
The camera, which also has a red "panic button'' to capture such incidents as muggings or road rage attacks, records sights and sounds inside and outside the car continuously but "saves'' footage only when there is a "trigger incident.'' These include excessive speed, sharp cornering, hard braking or accelerating, and going over bumps. The camera saves footage for 15 seconds on either side of each incident.
In Australia, where 350 people aged 17 to 25 die on the roads and 5,500 are seriously injured each year, the device is being used to improve teenagers' driving.
Gene Corbett, the director of Total Driver, a driving school in Queensland, recently carried out a three-month study of 40 young drivers with DriveCam fitted in their cars and found many dangerous flaws in their driving because of their lack of experience.