New car technology keeps teen drivers safe

Posted at 4:05 PM, Oct 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 22:05:59-04

SAN DIEGO - Studies show automobile crashes are the leading cause of death among teen drivers, so one automaker is rolling out new technology to help keep teen drivers safe.

"It makes me nervous. My daughter is 16 and just getting ready to get her license," said local parent Allison Murphy.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the fatal crash rate for 16-19 year olds in the U.S. is nearly three times higher than drivers ages 20 and over.

"I had no idea it was that high. It's very disturbing and it makes me even more nervous than I was," said parent Janis Hetherington.

Hetherington's son is still two years away from driving, but she's already dreading the day her son drives without her.

"The distraction with phone use is a big concern," said Hetherington.

10News is committed to keeping them safe, as is automaker Chevrolet. Hetherington and Murphy both agreed to test drive the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, equipped with its Teen Driver technology.

The Teen Driver system encourages safe driving habits for teens in a number of ways, including buckling their seat belt, something teens are far less likely to do.

"The radio will not go on until seatbelts are activated in the vehicle," said Ross Tammen of Ron Baker Chevrolet.

"That's great. I like that," said Hetherington.

Speeding is a factor in one-third of traffic deaths involving young drivers. The Teen Driver system will alert teens if they go over a set speed limit set by their parents.

"It won't prevent them from going over the limit, it will alert them. And then it'll show up in a report available to parents," said Tammen.

The car also watches out for drivers when they change lanes.

"There's somebody in your blind spot," explained Tammen as a yellow light flashed in the rear view mirrors.

"That's great. So far, that's one of my favorite features," said Hetherington.

There's another feature you can add on which can actually prevent a collision at slow speed if you forget to brake.

"If you're going to run into something, that's really important," said Murphy.

The car also keeps drivers from drifting into other lanes.

"I felt the wheel actually pull me back on track," said Hetherington.

It also provides parents with an in-vehicle report card that calculates how many miles a teen has driven, how many over-speed warnings were given, how many near front collisions and how many times the driver activated the brakes to avoid a crash.

"It would give me a lot more peace of mind if Nathan were to drive something like that," said Hetherington.

"I think the more awareness our teenagers have, the better off they are," said Murphy.

"With the feedback they're going to get from the consumer, they'll come up with other ideas," said Tammen. "This is just the beginning."

Murphy and Hetherington hope to see more safety features in the future. For example, Murphy wants texting blocked unless a car is parked. Hetherington wants a feature that'll prevent a car from running if a driver is drunk.

For 2017, Chevrolet has put the Teen Driver system into five other cars. Prices range between $24,000 and $36,000.

It's National Teen Driver Safety Week -- join us Saturday, Oct. 22 at Qualcomm Stadium for our free distracted driver course for teen drivers. Teens will get safety training and be able to participate in a hands-on driving course from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Open to those 15 and older who have a learner's permit. FOR MORE DETAILS