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Testing GM’s Teen Driver System: Like a Toddler Leash, But for New Drivers

Ah yes, the smell of that learners permit and then the newly issued license, the feel of all 4 wheels turning on the open road and the freedom to go to the mall with out mom or dad in tow!  That's right, we are talking about teen drivers!  We all remember our first car and first time we drove that car anywhere.  But, times have changed and there are many more distractions for new drivers than ever before.  And let's face it, you may not want to be IN the car with them everytime they go somewhere.  But what to do to monitor their driving?  GM is now in the testing phase of a Teen Driver System to help you better understand their driving habits (and help you determine when it's time to take those keys away due to unsafe habits).  This week we found ourselves at caranddriver.com for this article!  And don't fret those minor dings, if you contact us, we will make sure they are a thing of the past for you!

“Dad, I’m going to projectile vomit,” I hear my 15-year-old daughter, Noa, say from the passenger seat.

As I bend this 2017 Chevrolet Malibu into the back chicane on M1 Concourse’s 1.5-mile road course, in what I’m sure is a meaningful demonstration of cornering technique, I think to myself: How would she know what kind of vomiting she’d be doing?

And as I get out and give her the keys, I also think: Aren’t I the one who’s supposed to be nervous?

Aside from watching your daughter get on the back of a Harley Road King with a guy named Dallas, there’s little more petrifying to parents than handing over the car keys. Actually, a Harris Poll that Chevy conducted in 2016 revealed that driving unsupervised is parents of teens’ greatest worry. It’s a bigger concern than academic performance, drug and alcohol use, or even sex with guys named Dallas.

GM has devised a way to relieve some of that anxiety. It’s called Teen Driver, and the system became available on most Chevrolet models for 2017 (it’s still not available on Corvette or Equinox). We are here on this bright winter morning, as mutually freaked-out father and daughter, to check it out.

A sort of go-everywhere monitor for those wet behind the wheel, Teen Driver is a trick bit of software programming that does three things, according to General Motors’ Fred Huntzicker: First, it sets boundaries around some of the car’s capabilities, muting, for example, the audio system until both front occupants have clicked their seatbelts. The system also allows parents to set speed warnings, limit audio volume, and set an 85-mph top speed. Second, Teen Driver automatically sets all safety features to their least forgiving settings and makes them undefeatable—the young rascals can’t turn off stability control, traction control, or automatic lighting. Third and most essential, the system issues a report card that measures distance driven plus how many times the driver uses wide-open throttle, trips the speed warning, triggers forward-collision alerts, activates traction or stability control, tailgates another vehicle, and more. Basically, all the things that you, as a parent, stay up late about.

Ford has a similar feature-limiting system called MyKey, but it doesn’t offer the crucial report card, meaning you can’t shove anything in your kid’s face and say, “SEE?!?!?” Like Ford’s system, which is standard on most models, GM’s Teen Driver is built into all of its latest-generation infotainment systems (MyLink, IntelliLink, and CUE); it’s not part of some expensive safety package.  

For the rest of this article and the video of this test drive go to caranddriver.com .

 

 

 

 

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