Parents know that coaching a teenager on safe driving skills is vital. Their concern for their young drivers is more than just instinct – the numbers back it up.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and older. And the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration says more than half of teens killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.
So, who is there to remind teenagers to buckle up when their parents aren’t around? How will they know when the radio is a distraction, or to slow down?
While practice, awareness, education, and continued learning are the most important tools a parent can share with their teen driver, Chevy and Ford now offer cutting-edge technology that can also help keep teen drivers safe from common driving hazards.
Chevrolet Teen Driver
Just announced for the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, and likely to transition to other models in the General Motors lineup, Chevrolet's Teen Driver system also supports safe driving habits with a tool to help encourage safe driving habits for kids, even when their parents are not in the car with them. Teen Driver is not a subscription-based service, so it remains with the vehicle permanently.
First, Teen Driver promotes safe seatbelt habits by muting the stereo (or any device paired with the vehicle) when front-seat occupants aren’t wearing their safety belts. In addition, Teen Driver also provides audible and visual warnings when the vehicle travels above speeds (between 40 and 75 miles per hour) pre-set by Mom or Dad.
To use Teen Driver, a parent enables the feature with a PIN in the Settings menu of the Malibu’s MyLink system, which allows them to register their teen’s key fob. The system’s settings are turned on only to registered key fobs.
Chevrolet’s system is the first in the industry with a built-in component that lets parents view how their teenager drove the vehicle using a type of "report card" display on the vehicle's video screen. Maximum speed reached, distance driven, and number of times active safety features were engaged are among the parameters that can be confirmed about a teenager's driving habits.
"We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids — they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits," GM safety engineer MaryAnn Beebe, said in a statement. "As a mother of two, I know anything that has the potential of keeping one's family safer is of great value to parents."
Ford was first to market with safety technology aimed at teen drivers when it launched MyKey as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus; it is now standard equipment now on more than 6 million Ford and Lincoln vehicles nationwide.
The easily programmable system features several options starting with a persistent Belt-Minder® with audio mute that sounds chimes every six seconds and mutes the radio to remind teens to buckle up. A message -- "Buckle Up to Unmute Radio” -- also displays on the instrument panel.
Volume control can limit the audio system to 44 percent of maximum output, and MyKey also lets parents block explicit satellite radio stations.
A speed alert chimes at 45, 55, and 65 mph to remind teens to slow down. Parents can also limit the vehicle's top speed to 80 mph.
A “Do Not Disturb” feature allows parents to block incoming phone calls and hold text messages on a phone paired with Ford SYNC® when teens are behind the wheel.
And, in addition to the typical warnings displayed when the fuel level reaches 50 and 25 miles to empty, MyKey also provides an extra-early warning at 75 miles to remind your teen to fill up the tank.
Chevy’s Teen Driver system will reach the marketplace when the 2016 Malibu reaches the marketplace by the end of 2015, while Ford MyKey has been around long enough and is in enough cars that it is a feature you can watch for even when purchasing a used vehicle for your teen driver.
I remember what it was like the first time my young driver (now 22!) took the car out alone, even though I thought he was a pretty good driver, so I know it’s hard to give your kids the keys to the car for their first unsupervised outing. With these teen-focused safety systems in their car, parents have one less reason to be worried.