As a car-crazy kid raised during the 1970s on a steady diet of “The Rockford Files” and “Starsky and Hutch,” I could not wait to turn 16 and get my driver’s license.
Shortly thereafter, while trying to impress a girl with my fishtailing expertise on a snowy residential street, I planted my mother’s 1980 Buick Regal into a telephone pole. The girl sat in the middle of the velour bench seat between my buddy and me, and none of us were wearing seat belts.
Miraculously, none of us got hurt. My pride? That’s another story.
Today, as a father to four kids ranging in age from 6 to 19, I’ve shared this story (and many others) with my older daughters in the hopes that they won’t repeat my mistakes. And I’m thrilled that new vehicles are now equipped with technologies like Teen Driver from General Motors, even though I would have hated them when I was a new and reckless driver.
When Chevrolet introduced its redesigned 2016 Malibu midsize sedan, it debuted an important new feature called Teen Driver.
Designed to help the parents of teenagers to coach their daughters and sons to be better drivers, and to provide detailed reports of how they’ve used the family car when they’re unsupervised, Teen Driver is not a new idea. Ford, for example, has offered several programmable functions designed to encourage safer teen driving ever since it debuted its Sync infotainment technology almost a decade ago.
However, this new Teen Driver system from GM is now one of the best. And for 2017, the automaker has rolled it out to many, but not all of, its models.
Offered through Cadillac CUE, Buick and GMC Intellilink, and Chevrolet MyLink infotainment systems, Teen Driver does not require a subscription to OnStar services, which means it is free of charge.
Owners of vehicles equipped with Teen Driver technology pair the system to a specific key fob, create a PIN that allows access to the system and its settings, and then configure the system.
Using Teen Driver, parents can set maximum stereo volume limit, can limit maximum vehicle speed to 85 mph, and can choose at what speed the visual and audible warnings should occur. Teen Driver automatically mutes the stereo volume until the seat belts are fastened, and will not allow the driver to turn off the active safety features.
After your child returns home, you can use the PIN to access the View Report Card function, which provides the following data:
- Total distance driven
- Maximum speed traveled
- Number of over-speed warnings
- Number of wide-open throttle events
- Number of tailgating alerts
- Number of times the traction control, anti-lock brakes, stability control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking systems activated
The system allows parents to change the PIN at any time, and to disconnect Teen Driver from a key fob at any time.
For more details, you can check out this You Tube video that shows how to use the Teen Driver feature in the redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia:
Speedy Daddy Says…
According to General Motors, teenaged drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than are drivers over the age of 20.
This reality is precisely why it is important to provide a child with the safest possible car to drive. And if that car happens to be a new GM vehicle that he or she borrows from Mom and Dad, so be it.
With that said, I’m glad this technology didn’t exist when I was a teenager. While wrecking my mom’s Regal was both an instructive and sobering moment, it didn’t preclude me from having a ton of fun when I was young, dumb, and full of…confidence.
Teen Driver would have served as a seriously cold shower for a hot-blooded car freak like me. And that’s why, now that I’m a parent of teenaged drivers, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
GM Teen Driver screen photo copyright General Motors, and is for editorial use only.