Parents can control teen driver speed with new technology

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Monday, September 25, 2017
Parents can control teen driver speed
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New technology allows parents to control the speed of a vehicle while their teen is behind the wheel.

Imagine being able to control the speed of a car when your teenager is behind the wheel. There's new technology that allows parents to do just that.

According to AAA, new teen drivers are three times as likely to be involved in deadly accidents. The top three factors are distraction, not wearing seat belts and speeding. AAA also said on average, four teen drivers will die in crashes each day. The new tech, offered by General Motors and Ford, could help cut these statistics.

GM loaned a car to freelance writer Michael Harley to test the technology for a few weeks and write an article. His son, Patrick, drove the car as part of the test. His parents programmed seat belts, speed and radio volume.

The program provides a "report card" of recorded behaviors, including hard braking, excessive speed and tailgating. For a monthly fee, parents can also see if their teen stays within an agreed boundary.

"Family Link is going to text you when they arrive at work, when they arrive at home or at their friend's house. This is all virtual, but it's peace of mind for the parent," Michael Harley said.

"In the back of my mind, I know he's going to see what I'm doing later, on the report card," Patrick Harley said.

"He was doing a whole bunch of hard braking and a whole bunch of tailgating. The more we talked about it, by the end of the week, very few tailgating episodes and zero hard braking," Michael Harley said.

Sounds a bit like "Big Brother" or parental hovering. It could be, if not used correctly.

"Spying does not work. I do think that having texts and apps relating to driving is going to be part of our kids growing up. However, I think it's going to be critical to be done collaboratively," said Dr. Jodi Gold, a family psychiatrist.

When asked if she thinks teen driver monitoring should be required, National Safety Council CEO and former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Hersman said, "Absolutely."

"We think that this is the future when it comes to the next level of ensuring our teens are safer," Hersman said.

She also said she believes the technology will save lives. She's using it herself. Her son, Taylor, just got his license and saw an upside.

"Gives me a little bit more freedom," he said.

"They're not there with you the entire time. They can only see how you're doing from a distance, which is through the report card," Patrick Harley said.