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Parental Peace of Mind: GM's Teen Driver Technology

As parents, ensuring the safety of our teenagers while they are behind the wheel is of the utmost importance. While we can't always be there to supervise, General Motors' Teen Driver Technology offers a way to keep track of our young drivers and encourage safe habits while they are out on the road. Although cars and roads are safer than ever, a major factor contributing to young drivers' higher risk is their lack of experience. In fact, accidents are the main cause of mortality for teenagers, and the most hazardous time to start driving is within the first two years.

Amie-Lynn Mitchell

Keeping Teens Safe on the Road

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that teens are at a higher risk of being involved in a crash during their first year of driving. This is due in part to their lack of experience behind the wheel, and their tendency to engage in risky behaviours such as texting while driving and not wearing a seatbelt. It is important for parents to be aware of these risks and to take steps to ensure the safety of their teenagers while they are driving. GM's Teen Driver Technology is one way that parents can help to reduce the risks for their teenagers and encourage safe driving habits.

Teen Driver Technology is a feature that can be added to select GM vehicles. It works by using a separate key fob for the teenager's use. When the key fob is inserted into the ignition, the Teen Driver Technology is activated and certain features are enabled.

One of the main features of Teen Driver Technology is the ability to set speed and audio volume limits for the teenager. This can be helpful for parents who want to set boundaries for their young drivers and ensure that they are not driving too fast or listening to music at a dangerous volume level. The limits can be set by the parent through the infotainment system, and the teenager will not be able to exceed them while the Teen Driver Technology is active. There is also an option to set up a gentle nudge to remind the young driver to slow down if they exceed a standard speed. 

How Does It Work?

Any car's key fob can be configured to be a Teen Driver-designated key fob. Once finished, whenever your teen uses that key fob, the Teen Driver features will be engaged. Here are the steps described by GM to activate:

  • Select Teen Driver from the Settings menu on your infotainment system while you are in PARK.

  • Make a PIN with four digits. This will make it more difficult for the teenager to delete any data or change any settings.

  • Choose either "Key Registration" or "Setup Keys" depending on your infotainment system, then adhere to the on-screen instructions. If your car has Keyless Open and Start capabilities, establish your settings and put the key fob in the designated pocket.

  • Refer to your Owner's Manual to find out where the pocket is located in your car. It may be found, among other places, in the centre console cupholder, centre console bin, or beneath the bottom mat of the centre console bin, depending on your car.

If your car has the following characteristics, you can modify these settings next:

  • Audio Loudness Limit: Limit the volume of the radio or streaming device that is connected to the car.

  • Speed Warning: Set a speed warning between 40 mph and 75 mph (64 km/hr and 120 km/hr), which will alert your teen with an audible chime and a warning on the Driver Information Centre (DIC). The Teen Driver Report Card will indicate when your teen receives a Speed Warning.

  • Speed Limiter: Reduce the vehicle's top speed to 136 km/hr (85 mph). When the Speed Limiter is activated, the teenager will see a notice in the Driver Information Center when they start the car informing them that the top speed is restricted.

  • SiriusXM® Station Filter: Prevents teens from accessing pornographic programming on the car's SiriusXM Radio2.

  • In the Teen Driver menu on select vehicles, you can enable or disable the available Buckle to Drive feature.

  • The "Acceleration Limiting" setting on some vehicles may be set to automatically turn ON when the "Speed Limiter" setting is switched ON. Acceleration will be restricted to acceptable levels when Teen Driver, Speed Limiter, and Acceleration Limiting are used.

Encouraging Safe Habits 

In addition to setting limits, the Teen Driver Technology also includes a report card feature, which provides a summary of the teenager's driving habits. This includes information such as the maximum speed reached, the distance traveled, and any instances of hard braking or acceleration. This can be a valuable tool for parents to use to discuss safe driving habits with their teenager and identify any areas where improvement may be needed.

The report card can be accessed by the parent through the infotainment system, and it can be helpful to review it with the teenager on a regular basis. This can serve as a way to praise safe driving habits and address any areas of concern. The report card keeps track of the following: 

  • Distance driven

  • Maximum speed reached

  • Overspeed warnings issued

  • Stability control events

  • Antilock braking events

  • Traction control activations

  • Wide-open throttle events

  • Forward Collision Alerts, if equipped

  • Forward Automatic Braking events, if equipped

  • Tailgating Alerts, if equipped

Helping Your Teenager Develop Safe Driving Practices

GM's Teen Driver Technology is a very useful and effective tool, however, there are a couple of tricks you should teach your newly driving teen to ensure optimal safety while on the road. 

There are several smart driving habits that parents can teach their teenagers to help keep them safe on the road. First and foremost, it is important to emphasize the importance of paying attention to the road and avoiding distractions such as texting or using social media while driving. It is also a good idea to encourage the use of safety features such as seatbelts and to model safe driving behaviors for your teenager to follow.

Other smart driving habits to teach your teenager include: following traffic laws and signals, maintaining a safe following distance, and avoiding reckless or aggressive behaviors such as speeding or tailgating. It is also important to teach your teenager how to properly maintain their vehicle, including checking the tires, oil, and other fluid levels. By teaching your teenager these habits and modeling them yourself, you can help to ensure their safety on the road.

Overall, GM's Teen Driver Technology is a valuable tool for parents to help ensure the safety of their young drivers. It offers a way to set limits and encourage safe habits, as well as provide a way to monitor and discuss driving behavior. While it is no substitute for parental supervision and guidance, it can be a helpful addition to the tools used to keep our teenagers safe on the road. It is always important to have open and honest conversations with our teenagers about the importance of safe driving, and the Teen Driver Technology can serve as a useful aid in those conversations.