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Car & Driver: Chevy Gives Parents More Vehicles That Can Monitor Teen Drivers

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Chevrolet, Chevy, Teen Driver Technology, Feature, Safety

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The month of August this year sees a record number of U.S. teens turning 16 and becoming eligible for their first driver’s licenses—and a corresponding spike in parental angst as their children undertake the activity that is most likely to kill them. In an effort to assuage the fears of parents, Chevrolet has expanded its offering of the Teen Driver Technology feature that gives parents more oversight of driving activities and may help curb dangerous behaviors.

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The first to get it was the 2016 Chevy Malibu. For 2017, the feature will be available on 10 of the brand’s vehicles: the Bolt, Camaro, Colorado, Cruze, Malibu, Silverado, Silverado HD, Suburban, Tahoe, and Volt.

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Here’s how it works: Parents register their teen’s key fob in the vehicle’s system settings, and when the car recognizes that fob is in use, it tracks some driving behaviors and limits others. For example, the feature will mute the radio and any paired devices until seatbelts are buckled, and it will give audible and visual warnings when the vehicle travels faster than preset speeds. All available active-safety features, such as lane-departure warning and stability control, are automatically enabled and cannot be turned off by teen drivers.

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Once teens return home, parents can view what Chevy touts as an industry-first report card. Depending on how the Chevy is equipped, it can offer information on the distance traveled, number of over-speed warnings—including “wide-open-throttle events”—plus forward-collision alerts, instances of tailgating, and other data points. For now, that data must be viewed in the car, but it’d be easy to foresee a future when it could be relayed from a vehicle’s telematics system to a parent’s smartphone app.

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Each of the 10 Chevrolet models comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability—so young drivers will be less likely to pick up their phones while they drive.

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Motor-vehicle crashes remain the biggest killer of teens in America, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Teen Driver addresses some of the factors most likely to lead to their deaths: Among male teens and young men ages 15 to 20 involved in fatal crashes in 2013, the CDC says 35 percent were speeding at the time of the crash. And teens of both genders have the lowest rate of seatbelt use of any age group, according to the agency.

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Drivers are most prone to crashes in their first months after receiving a license, and this month, there may be more first-time drivers on American roads than at any other point this year. August was the most popular birth month in the U.S. in the year 2000, with 360,080 births. In most states, although not all, young drivers are eligible to receive their first licenses at age 16. For their parents, more information on how they handle themselves on the road might be a welcome relief.

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