TEEN DRIVER FROM CHEVY:
SAFETY OR SPY?
As an injury lawyer, I am not surprised to repeatedly hear that crashes are the leading cause of death of 16- to 20-year-olds. Inexperience, poor judgment, peer pressure, and a feeling of invincibility conspire to cause reckless behaviors, and dangerous over-reactions while driving.
Teens don't really understand just how long or fragile life is, or how much pain their loss would cause their family and friends. Nevertheless, we all remember the scare tactics of Driver’s Education class: Blood-filled movies of real car accident victims, shown dead on the highway.
General Motors seems to think there is a better way. They call it “Teen Driver.” It is intended as a teaching tool.
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu features this factory-installed, hard-wired technology that seems to touch almost every part of the vehicle. It will be rolled out to more vehicles soon, and Ford has a similar system as well.
Teen Driver mutes the stereo system until both driver and passenger seatbelts are fastened. Parents can even set volume limits on the radio and program speed maximums that will sound an alarm. While kids might ignore the alarms, they will face the fact that Mom and Dad will have a “Report Card” reflecting all of the following juicy information:
1. Every time a set speed parameter was broken
2. Every time a forward collision alert sounded
3. Every time a lane departure alert went off
4. Every time the safety devices, like anti-lock brakes, triggered.
In theory, the teen would also be able to prove that he or she was, in fact, driving safely. And, they may be much less likely to text or be distracted if they are mindful that swerving is recorded. While some teens are likely to see it as spying and resent the intrusion of the privacy many covet, I think it will help develop better habits behind the wheel for teens.
Given that the teen death rate is about triple compared those over 20 years old, any progress is represented as less teen funerals.
We can all agree that safer teen driving is a very good thing.