Government statistics paint a grim picture of teen drivers and car accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, taking the lives of six people aged 16–19 every day in 2015 alone. Most teen motor vehicle accidents are preventable, however. With the help of teen driver technology, parents can encourage responsible behavior behind the wheel.
Safety on the Road
Parents communicating with their teens and demonstrating responsible behavior themselves while driving are two important factors to help youngsters stay safe behind the wheel. Other factors include supplying your teen with a large, heavy vehicle and one with restrained horsepower.
Vehicles equipped with electronic stability control that have received superior crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are best-suited for your teens.
Top Teen Driver Tech
If you’re shopping for a new or late-model used car, keep in mind that the technologies available have increased sharply in recent years. Under the teen driver technology category, most manufacturers offer services that help parents track how their teens drive, while some also intervene with measures like lowering the audio volume. Here’s a sample of what’s currently out there.
All too often, speeding is a key contributor to accidents. If you own a late-model Ford product, you can likely utilize the Ford MyKey app, which allows you to program certain vehicle settings. For instance, you can limit the vehicle’s top speed to 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph. Once the system is enabled, the safety belt reminder is turned on and the radio is muted if the front-seat passenger is not buckled. Also, installed driver assistance features cannot be overridden.
Like Ford, Kia offers technologies that help owners keep tabs on their cars when their kids are at the wheel, such as a Geo Fence feature that limits where the car can be driven. If you forbid your child from taking the car into the city, for instance, you’ll receive an automatic notification if that boundary has been crossed. Other features that Kia offers include a Curfew Limit and a Speed Alert — additional ways to help you monitor teen activity.
Chevrolet Teen Driver Technology
In an effort to promote safe driving habits, Chevrolet introduced its own technology on one model in 2016 before expanding it to 10 models in 2017. Once enabled, the Teen Driver software provides the same restrictions and notifications found in the Ford and Kia systems. It also provides an in-vehicle report card — an ideal tool for parents to use when discussing problem areas with their teens and how to make improvements.
If you own an older vehicle, there are aftermarket tools available to help keep your kids safe, too. Typically, they consist of GPS tracking devices that require you to purchase a product and a monthly subscription. Consumer Reports offers a comparison of MOTOsafety, MobiCoPilot and MasTrack. They all function similarly and work on any vehicle built after 1996 — meaning any model with the OBD-II computer port typically found under the dashboard on the driver’s side.
While teen-monitoring tools, dialogue and safety features have a place in keeping your kids safe, another significant contributor to teen accidents that may need more attention is texting while driving. Falling under the distracted driving umbrella, dangerous practices such as this one claimed an estimated 3,477 lives in 2015 alone, according to NHTSA. Remember to take your time teaching your child to drive, make them aware of the dangers of distracted driving and use every tool at your disposal to ensure their safety on the road.
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