Most of us were at one point teen drivers, and we’re all too familiar with the more risk-riddled mentality of youth. Compound that with less actual driving skill and experience, and it’s a deadly combination.
GM cites some sobering data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, noting that the fatal crash rate for those 16 to 19 years old is nearly triple that of drivers 20 and older.
Yet today we have some sophisticated safety technology and the potential for monitoring from a distance. And one such system that puts those elements together is making its debut in the upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.
With the Teen Driver system, parents set a PIN through the vehicle’s settings menu, within MyLink, the touch-screen interface; that allows keyfobs to be registered to the system.
It’s even a step ahead of what’s been offered for a number of years now by Ford, as MyKey (which Ford has installed into millions of vehicles), in that it doesn’t just monitor speed and distance driven, but also the number of stability-control and anti-lock braking events, as well as Forward Collision Alerts and Forward Collision Braking events (when so equipped).
The system automatically mutes the sound system until seatbelts are fastened, and it lowers the max level. It also lowers the maximum speed of the vehicle itself, through a visual warning and audible chime.
No turning off the nannies
In Teen Driver mode, a number of safety systems, like the front and rear park assist, blind zone alert, cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, forward collision braking, and front pedestrian braking—along with the stability control—are impossible to turn off.
The GM system claims to be the first in the industry with a system that allows parents, via a display, to see an assessment of how their teen drove the vehicle. One thing that Ford’s MyKey system also does is let parents block incoming phone calls and hold text messages through paired phones when teens aredriving. For whatever reason—perhaps then drivers are more likely to revert to using a handset—GM hasn’t mentioned a feature such as this with Teen Driver mode.
Will this system, which is a bit like the adult version of a baby monitor, keep your teen driver from doing foolish things? Maybe not. But it will definitely make them think twice, and have them understand that you’re watching—which might just be enough.
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will be revealed on April 1 at the New York Auto Show.