Few things cause parents more anxiety than when their teenager climbs behind the wheel of a car. While the teens feel excited and independent, their parents worry about their safety more than ever—and with good reason. Teen drivers are among the groups most at risk to be involved in serious traffic crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 2,100 teens were killed in auto accidents in 2013. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.
The CDC states that young people ages 15 to 24 account for just 14 percent of the population, but make up about 30 percent of the cost of car crash costs annually. Research has shown that teenage drivers and passengers consistently engage in risky behaviors. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens face a greater risk of death in a crash. Teen drivers often do not wear seat belts, and alcohol plays a role in nearly one-third of deadly accidents, despite the fact that they are not legally allowed to drink. Teens are more likely to speed, underestimate changing traffic conditions, and follow lead cars more closely.
In addition to the risks to themselves, young drivers can pose a threat to other drivers and passengers. Teen drivers were involved in 236,000 crashes in 2013 that injured at least one person. To help combat this problem, one automaker has recently unveiled new technology aimed at monitoring and restricting some teen driving behaviors.
Teen Driver Mode Allows Parents Access to Driving Information
Automaker General Motors recently unveiled the latest model of their Chevrolet Malibu sedan, which will offer a teen driver mode. According to the automaker, the teen driver mode is activated with a special key unique to the teenaged driver. The car first will mute the radio until the seatbelt is fastened. The car also limits how loud the speakers may play. Once the vehicle is in motion, the car will track and record data about driving performance, including:
- Distance traveled
- Maximum speed reached
- Over-speed warnings issued
- Stability control events
- Anti-lock brake events
- Collision alerts
- Collision braking events
Forward-collision alerts and forward collision braking action are available as optional features. Additionally, parents can set a maximum speed which will trigger the over-speed warning.
Safety Features Inaccessible to Teen Drivers
In addition to the teen-centered safety features, the manufacturer offers a number of other safety features, which cannot be accessed by the teen drivers. Only parents can deactivate the:
- Stability control
- Park assist
- Blind zone alert
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Forward collision alert
- Daytime running lamps
- Forward collision braking
- Traction control
- Front pedestrian braking
Not all of these features come standard with the vehicle but are available as options.
Mode Can Be Used to Prevent Crashes and Encourage Conversation
Not only can the technology actively prevent teenaged drivers from being involved in dangerous crashes and offer parents a way to monitor driving behavior, experts hope it will spark important conversations. Armed with the information about their child’s driving performance while they are not in the car, parents can discuss expectations and safety based on the actual information from a recent driving trip.
Limitations to Teen Driver Mode Technology
The teen driver mode has not yet been made available to the public, so its effects remain to be seen. The system does have limitations. It does not monitor where the teens are driving, only how far they have traveled and at what speed. It cannot limit speed, only warn teens when they’ve violated the maximum speed set by parents. Importantly, it cannot address the issue of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, both of which are serious concerns for young drivers. Finally, parents cannot monitor the teens in real time. After the car has returned to the home, parents can view or download the data directly from the car’s console.
Teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than drivers over the age of 20, and they pose a risk not only to themselves but also to others on the road. Loved ones of teen drivers and all those who travel can benefit from helping young drivers make safe decisions behind the wheel.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm may be able to help. Call our office today at (217) 394-5885 to find the answers you need and learn more about your rights on the road.