The car that keeps teens in check
In the USA, teens spend less time behind the wheel than everyone else, except drivers from the oldest age bracket, but the number of traffic accidents and fatality that teens are involved in are disproportionately high. The road death rate per mile for drivers aged 16 to 19 is nearly twice as those aged 18 to 19, and nearly three times of those aged 20 and above.
Reckless teen driving has gotten the attention of American automaker, General Motors, which announced that the next generation Chevrolet Malibu will feature a Teen Driver system. The new first-of-its-kind feature will allow nervous parents, who are handing over the car keys to their teenage children, to monitor their offspring’s driving and encourage safe driving habits. The system is turned on automatically when it detects specific key fobs, which parents can register on a MyLink system.
Parents can then view on a display how fast and how far the car was driven. According to General Motors’ safety engineer, MaryAnn Beebe, the company developed the system so that parents could use it to inculcate and enforce safe driving on their kids. “As a mother of two, I know anything that has the potential of keeping one’s family safer is of great value to parents,” Beebe added.
Parents can cap the Malibu’s top speed (between 40 to 75mph) which, when exceeded, triggers visual and audio warnings. When the system is activated, the radio remains mute until front safety belts are fastened and the radio’s volume can be limited; this makes sense as distracted driving can include anything from visual (taking the eyes off the road to look at the radio display), manual (taking a hand off the steering wheel to fiddle with the knobs and buttons) to cognitive distractions (being focused more on the music than the road). If the teen driver ignores these warnings, there are also the additional Front Collision Alert and Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking features and more. We imagine that it would be like constantly having your parent as a backseat driver; bet the teen would LOVE that.
As an aside, it is also interesting to note that in 2013, two out of three teenagers killed on the road were males. Those of us who are inclined to think that women drivers are bad drivers might want to reevaluate that statement (the gentler gender may be more prone to minor scrapes and bumps, but at least they don’t get themselves killed as often).
The 2016 Chevy Malibu is set to make its first public appearance at the New York International Auto Show on 1 April. The ninth generation Malibu will be longer by almost 4 inches, which goes to more legroom for the backseat passengers. The use of stronger steel translates to a lighter body by 300 pounds, which we all know translates further to better fuel economy. General Motors went even further to improve the Malibu’s performance on rough roads by using real data from vehicles driven across the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other countries since 1972. The data was used to simulate actual ‘pothole-y’ road conditions when testing the new Malibu.
Sounds like a hardy and trustworthy car that parents could give their teens to drive. Come to think of it, all drivers of any age could do with a car like that.