DETROIT — Teen drivers often have more confidence than experience — maybe they drive a little faster than they should, follow the car in front a little too closely or try some things behind the wheel they aren’t prepared for.
New technology to debut in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu could give parents of new drivers the ability to supervise and teach their teens before they form bad driving habits.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Per mile driven, the fatal crash rate for drivers age 16 to 19 is nearly three times the rate for drivers age 20 and older, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports.
Chevy says its technology, called Teen Driver, is a first for the industry: a built-in system that tracks car data, allowing parents to view how their teen drove.
The system records distance traveled, maximum speed, when the car had to engage stability control and anti-lock brakes, as well as the number of alerts issued by other safety features.
Those features, such as traction control, forward collision alert or forward collision braking, are automatically turned on when Teen Driver is activated through a preprogrammed key.
The radio will remain muted until front safety belts are fastened, and parents can set the radio’s maximum volume so it won’t be a distraction.
The teen behind the wheel will get audible and visual warnings if the vehicle travels over a parent-set maximum speed between 40 and 75 mph.
Teen Driver doesn’t stop the car from being able to speed, and the driver could ignore all the warning and alarms, but the driver’s parents can check up on them using Teen Driver’s Report Card, a summary of the system’s records.
“We designed this to be used as a teaching tool,” said MaryAnn Beebe, a Chevrolet safety engineer and mother. “It gives the teen a chance to prove to mom and dad, ‘Hey, I’ve been driving responsibly,’ and if there are things on the report that need discussion — if your teen has had the car for a week and comes back with seven forward collision alerts — then maybe there is an opportunity to talk about areas where maybe the teen could use some improvement.”
The 2016 Chevy Malibu will be available to consumers in fall 2015. Exact pricing has yet to be announced, although Teen Driver will come standard in one model.
Chevrolet says it intends to have the Teen Driver feature standard in all models in the future.