Ahhh… to be 16 again. Hormones are raging, you’re just getting into your grove in high school, and you get the keys to your first set of wheels. Turning 16 gave me newfound independence from my parents (which I abused, slightly, from time to time) and allowed this gearhead to cruise the streets knowing that while I wasn’t being watched like a hawk by mom and dad, it was up to me to make sure that I followed the rules of the road and didn’t end up with the front end of my car wrapped around a tree.
General Motors is debuting a new system on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu that will put more than a little bit of control back into the hands of good ‘ol mom and dad. Teen Driver is meant to promote safe driving behavior for teens when they don’t have adult supervision in the car to make them “straighten up and fly right.”
A parent can enable Teen Driver in the MyLink Settings menu and create a PIN, which is then registered to the teen’s key fob. Once that step is taken, parents have full control over a number of in-vehicle features, performance capabilities, and even alert systems for their teen driver.
One such “nanny” feature is the ability to mute the radio until front seat passengers have fastened their seat belts. Parents also have full control over the maximum volume of the radio, so don’t think that you’re gonna go cruising down the street, windows down, with death metal cranked all the way up.
And if you’re thinking about blasting down the highway at 100 mph in daddy’s new Malibu, guess again. Your old man can set a maximum driving speed anywhere the range of 40 to 75 mph lest you get any wild ideas. If a teen were to attempt to fly past those limits, alarm bells would start ringing in the vehicle’s cabin.
If you think that this is helicopter-parenting run amuck, there’s more. Teen Driver will allow parents to keep track of the maximum speed driven, over-speed alerts, distance traveled (thinking about ditching school to make a quick road trip; guess again), and any instances where the antilock brakes or stability control had to kick in. In addition, a number of safety features cannot be disabled when Teen Driver is active. These include:
- Stability Control
- Front and Rear Park Assist
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Forward Collision Alert
- Forward Collision Braking
- Traction Control
“We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids – they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits,” said General Motors safety engineer MaryAnn Beebe. “As a mother of two, I know anything that has the potential of keeping one’s family safer is of great value to parents.”
We’re sure that teen drivers across the U.S. will balk at such a system and would rebel against having their movements tracking in such a fashion. But according to GM, it’s for their own good — the fatal crash rate per mile for driver between the ages of 16 and 19 are nearly triple that of drivers over the age of 20.