Chevrolet Launches Tech-Based Safety Setup for Teen Drivers

Teen Driver reports on distance driven, maximum speed the vehicle traveled, any over-speed warnings, any time there's a wide-open throttle and number of times other safety systems were activated.

by Jim Rossman, The Dallas Morning News / August 23, 2019
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(TNS) — It can be hard on parents to hand over the keys to a new teen driver.

With the help of technology, Chevrolet introduced a feature called Teen Driver to help ease some of those anxieties. I first got a look at Teen Driver back in 2015 when it was introduced with the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. For 2020, the automaker is enhancing those features.

Many of the Teen Driver features are simply monitoring teen behavior behind the wheel. Parents can call up their teen's driving report card on the vehicle's information screen.

Vehicle owners can program any key to enable the features and restrictions. Teen Driver reports on the distance driven, the maximum speed the vehicle traveled, any over-speed warnings issued, any time there's a wide-open throttle and the number of times other safety systems were activated, including stability control, traction control and antilock braking.

Parents can also choose to set a visible and audible warning when the vehicle reaches a preset speed, and they can limit the vehicle's top speed to 85 miles per hour.

The radio can be muted until the driver and front passenger seat belts are fastened, and the radio's maximum volume can be set to a lower level.

When a Teen Driver key is used, the driver can't turn off optional safety features such as forward collision braking and traction control.

Buckle up

This year Chevrolet is enhancing Teen Driver with a new feature called Buckle To Drive that will keep teen drivers from shifting out of park until their seat belts are fastened.

Here's how Chevy explains it:

The Buckle to Drive feature is available only when the vehicle is in Teen Driver mode.

If the vehicle is on and the driver's seat belt is not buckled, the driver can't shift out of park for up to 20 seconds. When the brake pedal is pressed, the driver will hear an audible alert and see a message in the driver information center that reads "Buckle seat belt to shift."

Chevrolet's Teen Driver system with the Buckle to Drive feature will be standard on the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse, Malibu and Colorado.

My drive

I got to spend a few days driving the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse, a seven-passenger SUV.

The key I was given had been programmed to enable the Teen Driver features. Chevrolet also gave me the PIN that would allow me to disable the Teen Driver features, but I didn't find it necessary.

I took the Traverse on a trip to Houston to visit my parents, and I didn't find the Teen Driver restrictions on speed or audio volume to be annoying at all.

I'm not really one to drive faster than 85 mph, although I did intentionally hit that limit to see what would happen.

On an open stretch of interstate, as I hit 85 mph, I heard a chime and saw a message on the speedometer that said I had reached the top speed limit.

The volume on the audio system had been set to about 50%, and it was more than loud enough for me.

What did find annoying was the speed limit warning message that had been set for 55 mph.

Every time I hit 55 mph, I heard a chime and was presented with a warning screen that I could only dismiss by pressing a button on the steering wheel.

I wish there were only one warning per trip or perhaps a time limit between warnings, but that warning happened every time.

If I was cruising at 60 mph and had to slow down in traffic, I got another warning when I passed 55 mph again.

Not the end of the world, but it did annoy me.

Overall, I drove the Traverse for four days, and Teen Driver didn't inhibit my driving habits at all.

Teen Driver is available on 12 Chevrolet models, but Buckle to Drive is only available on the 2020 Traverse, Malibu and Colorado.

Persuading teens to consistently wear a seat belt is one of the most important lessons we can teach them.

I would encourage any parent who owns a compatible Chevrolet vehicle to use Teen Driver. Other car companies have similar systems, such as Ford's MyKey.

Heck, I'm over 50 years old, and I had no problems driving with those restrictions.

©2019 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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