As a parent, there’s nothing more terrifying than having a new teen driver. Is it an exciting and tremendous milestone? Yes. Do you trust them? Yes. It’s just that you don’t trust everybody else. As an experienced driver, you recognize the countless dangers of joining others on the road. You’re worried (and rightfully so) that your child’s safety is no longer in your hands. While that’s a scary thought, there are a few ways to make this rite of passage feel less like an accident waiting to happen. By utilizing the new teen driver technology and resources available, adding a new driver to the family can be an easy and painless experience.
New teen driver technology in cars
On top of new features like blind-spot assistance, automatic parking, and other safe driver technology options, many car manufacturers are exploring ways to ensure the safety of the teen driver.
In 2016, leading manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet hit the market with built-in teen driver technology. Ford’s MyKey system provides custom settings to help parents enforce safe driving habits including volume limits, a “Belt-Minder” that not only chimes, but mutes the speakers until the driver is buckled up, and top speed cutoffs that prevent drivers from going over certain limits. Chevrolet’s teen driver technology offers similar features and even adds on an in-vehicle driving report so parents can track their child’s performance and coach them on safe driving habits later.
But Ford and Chevrolet aren’t the only manufacturers experimenting with this new technology. Volkswagen, GMC and others are offering their own versions of teen driver tech. In the near future, it’s likely that these teen driver safety features will be the new standard for the automotive industry.
However, for a lot of households, buying a new car with all the fancy bells and whistles is not an option. Many teen drivers get a used car for their first ride (aka the glorified hooptie.) So, how do we promote safe driving habits in older vehicles? Easy – use the smartphone for good. Cellphones and driving have always been a dangerous combo, but some apps can actually help increase the teen driver safety and improve their driving habits.
Teen driver safety smartphone apps
The Life360 app, for both Android and iOS, is designed to keep families connected – no more wondering if Billy arrived home safe or if Sarah ever reached her friend’s house. The app provides a driver safety mode that will track locations and monitor speed, sending out text message alerts for hard braking, rapid acceleration, and even crashes. There’s also 24/7 driver care support. Other apps, like AT&T’s DriveMode works to prevent distractions from silencing notifications as soon as it detects that an individual is driving. Apple has also gone in this direction and recently released a built-in update for iOS that can detect when you’re in the car and silence notifications from apps and texts. The list of safe driving phone applications can go on, and while some programs like EverDrive are more passive and monitoring than others, it’s still better to have some form of a “don’t text and drive” reminder than none at all.
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AAA teen driver resources
With all this new teen driver technology, it’s easy to forget that the promotion of safe driving habits should start at home. Not only should parents lead by example, but they should be very vocal about the potential dangers of driving and how to avoid them.
AAA’s Keys2Drive provides parents with an online teen driving resource that is not only tailored for each state, but also for each phase of the new driver experience. The website helps parents find a way to discuss potential driving risks during the “get ready” phase, provides teaching methods for the “practice” phase, and offers state laws and other important info for when your teen is ready to head off on their own. There’s also a Parent-Teen Driver Agreement that can help parents lay down rules and guidelines for new drivers in their household.
Even with all these preventive measures, accidents can happen. So remember to get covered for those unexpected accidents. AAA’s auto insurance can help keep you and your family both protected and financially stable should issues arise. You’ll be able to sleep easy at night, even when your teen driver heads off on their own for the very first time.
What kind of steps do you take to protect the new teen drivers in your household? Let us know in the comments below. For more AAA Traffic Safety resources, and to learn about our safety efforts in the community, click here.
This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.