Once upon a time, America's youth were in trouble--or so ABC wanted us to believe. From 1972 to 1997, the network's Afterschool Special series tackled a range of problems plaguing young people, including discrimination, disabilities, drinking, dating, drugs, death, and the 1970's scariest "D-word", divorce.
But a recent Harris Poll shows that, nearly 20 years after the last Afterschool Special aired (oddly, one about survivalism), there's something new to worry about: teen driving.
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The poll fielded responses from 638 parents and guardians of teens, asking them whether or not they were concerned about specific dangers to their children. Some 55 percent of participants admitted that they were worried about their child's driving habits.
That ranked driving higher than other concerns, including academic performance (53 percent), drugs and alcohol (52 percent), and sex (49 percent).
Given U.S. population trends, the data is especially timely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August of 2000 saw 360,080 U.S. births--more than any other month that year. A significant number of those newborns could be getting their driver's licenses by next Wednesday.
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The poll also showed that 95 percent of parents and guardians believe that it's their responsibility to teach their teens to drive responsibly. Also, 92 percent said that they'd revoke a teen's driving privileges if she were found to be driving unsafely, and 79 percent said that they'd worry less if they could monitor their kid's driving habits.
It's important to mention that the venerable Harris conducted its survey on behalf of Chevrolet. Though there's no reason to believe that Chevrolet skewed the poll's results, the brand does offer a suite of features called Teen Driver Technology, and therefore, it has an interest in drawing attention to the habits of inexperienced, teenage drivers. It does so quite well in this video:
That said, there's no denying that Teen Driver Technology and similar products available from other automakers are good news for parents. They can keep the radio volume down while teens are driving, mute the audio entirely when teens aren't wearing their seatbelts, and provide warnings when the car is traveling above pre-set speed limits.
Chevy's version also provides a report card on teens' driving performance, which parents can evaluate. The report card makes note of things like a teen's maximum speed, the number of overspeed warnings that the driver received, and if equipped, the number of forward collision alerts the driver received.
Have you used this sort of technology with your teen driver before? Would you? Share your thoughts below.