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Parents will soon be able to spy on their teens’ driving habits

We have previously written about the contradictory messages the auto industry seems to be sending to drivers. On one hand, new vehicles are increasingly offering "infotainment" systems that may include a dash-mounted touch screen and ways to wirelessly pair your cellphone to the vehicle in order to play music, take phone calls and send hands-free text messages.

On the other hand, automakers are also offering safety technology aimed at protecting drivers from their own bad choices – including distracted driving. According to a recent news article, General Motors has just announced a "Teen Drive" system to be included in the 2016 Chevy Malibu. It offers several features that may give parents peace of mind while annoying teen drivers to no end.

Parents can apparently set their own speed limits and maximum radio volume. When the car travels faster than the preset limits, drivers receive both visual and audio warnings from the vehicle. To encourage seat belt use, the Teen Drive system will reportedly mute the radio or a paired device if anyone in the front seat isn't buckled up.

The new Teen Drive system even acts as a snitch to report unsafe driving behavior. Parents are able to get a readout of their teen's driving behaviors, including indications of how often preset limits were violated.

Although this is being marketed as a way to keep tabs on teen drivers, motorists of all ages might do well to set some predetermined limits on their own potentially dangerous behaviors behind the wheel.

But will features like the Teen Drive system really create more responsible drivers? It is being offered by General Motors, after all, which currently has a poor reputation for its vehicle safety issues and lack of accountability.

Until or unless cars become fully automated, safe driving will always be a choice. Gadgetry may offer some help, but we must each accept that we are responsible for our own safety every time we get behind the wheel.

Source: PC Magazine, "Chevy Malibu 'Teen Driver' Tech Will Snitch if You Speed," Angela Moscaritolo, March 20, 2015

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