Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.
Now, a major automaker is rolling out new technology it hopes can help prevent some of those incidents.
General Motors will introduce a “Teen Driver” system as a feature in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. The company showed off the technology Wednesday at its Arlington Assembly Plant.
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“This goes another step further in helping parents monitor teen driving behavior,” said Jenner Ecclestone, GM’s spokeperson in Texas.
The system is activated by a key fob, which lets the car know a teen driver is behind the wheel. It then monitors how far the teen travels, the fastest speed they drove and how many times the car’s collision avoidance braking had to be activated, among other things.
“All of those are indications to a parent that perhaps a teen is engaging in some maybe not-so-safe behavior while they’re driving,” said Ecclestone.
Once the teen driver returns, parents can go into the car, enter a secret password and see an instant report card.
“It is only accessible in the vehicle,” said Ecclestone. “So parents aren’t going to get this on their diagnostic reports, insurance companies aren’t going to have access to this information. It is purely a teen and parent conversation.”
The system also lets parents set the maximum speed their teen can drive without setting off an alert that gets recorded on their report card. And if a teen forgets to put on their seatbelt or takes it off while they’re driving, the car’s stereo won’t operate.
“We think it’s a feature for everyone, but particularly teen drivers,” said Ecclestone. “It helps them to become better drivers over time.”
The system will be standard in certain trim levels of the 2016 Malibu and will be an add-on feature in others. The cars are expected to hit dealerships in late 2015.
Although GM has no immediate plans to introduce the system in other brands and models, the company is leaving that option on the table for the future.