New Chevy Reports on Your Teen Driver – But What’s Missing?

If you’re a parent, you’re right to be nervous when they let their teens drive. Your remember their own teen years, and how you took chances, sped, cut corners (sometimes literally) and generally drove irresponsibly more often than you’d like to admit.

New Chevrolet System Reports on Your Teen’s Driving (photo: GM)

Since you survived to become a parent, you probably got away with your bad driving. But not all teens do: young drivers have frighteningly high rates of collision and death.

What’s changed is car technology. Now it’s possible to find out just how bad (or good) your teen driver is. Chevrolet has announced a new automotive software system called Teen Driver, which tracks how far and how fast your teen has driven. It will be available on the 2016 Malibu.

In fact, it does more. Because so many aspects of modern cars are controlled electronically, Teen Driver can tell parents if the vehicle needed to engage stability control (say, if a corner is taken too fast), pedestrian braking, or other safety features.

Brilliant as this system is, it’s missing one crucial element – a way to detect whether your teen has been drinking. Understandable, as built-in anti-drunk-driving systems are a while off. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, one in ten high school drivers drinks and drives, and drivers 20 and under are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%.

Should Chevrolet package an ignition interlock along with the Teen Driver system? An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The device would certainly be even more effective that the system alone. A good number of parents have installed ignition interlocks in their cars just to ensure that their teen is sober while driving.

Even if you don’t install one, it’s important to keep lines of communication open with your teen on this issue. Drinking and driving must be a non-negotiable condition of being allowed to drive. Whether you rely on the honor system or install an interlock, you need to keep your teen safe on the road. Chevrolet’s new system can do part of the job. The rest is up to you.