October 4th, 2017 by

Parents have long worried about what their driving-age children are up to when they’re out and about in the family car. In 2016, a GM-commissioned poll found that 55 percent of parents worry about their teen’s driving – making the concern a more pressing one than drugs/alcohol (52 percent) and sexual activity (49 percent).

These concerns are justified. Teens are three times more likely to die behind the wheel than older drivers, with 2,333 dying on U.S. roads in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Teens – who constitute only 7 percent of the U.S. population — also account for a disproportionately large (11 percent) share of the $10 billion yearly cost of motor vehicle injuries.

Eight Driving Danger Zones for Teens

According to the CDC, the eight leading causes of teen road crashes are:

1. Driver Inexperience (Many critical mistakes are made in the first month after obtaining a license)

2. Driving with Teen Passengers (Who may encourage speeding and distract from the job of driving)

3. Nighttime Driving (Especially on weekends when a high (53 percent) number of teen crashes occur)

4. Failure to Use Seat Belts (The CDC found that only 61% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else)

5. Distracted Driving (Hello Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!)

6. Drowsy Driving (Like most Americans, teens are often sleep-deprived)

7. Reckless Driving (Teens are more prone to speeding and tailgating than older drivers)

8. Impaired Driving (The CDC reports that 17% of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher)

Parents are key players in keeping their teens safe on the road, and one helpful thing they can do is to download the CDC’s Parent-Teen Driving Agreement, discuss it with their teen, and get it signed. This document lays out the rules of the road that must be adhered to in order to continue driving the family car.

Another thing that parents can do is to choose a family car whose technology can be deployed to make teen driving safer. GM has lately been applying serious muscle to the problem of making driving safer for teens, rolling out a new system for making driving safer for young people called Teen Driver Technology. This technology is now standard on many Cadillacs, including the Cadillac XTS, ATS, CTS, and Escalade, and is also available on other GM brands, including Buick and GMC.

Parental Car Control

Think of Teen Driver as providing a “nudging” kind of parental control aimed at encouraging better road behavior. While it doesn’t exactly “put parents in the back seat,” it lets them set multiple parameters, alerts, and control over the activation of the robust safety features available in new Cadillacs and other GM cars. According to GM:

Teen Driver allows parents to set radio volume limits and speed warnings and limit top speed to 85 mph. It also mutes the radio when the front-seat occupants are not wearing safety belts and automatically enables many available active safety features and prevents anyone from manually turning them off.

In addition, parents can use the Teen Driver in-vehicle report card to know about the distance driven, maximum speed reached, overspeed warnings issued, stability control events, antilock braking events, traction control activations, wide-open throttle events and, if equipped and supported, Forward Collision Alerts, Forward Collision Avoidance Braking events and Tailgating Alerts.

Teen Driver’s in-vehicle “Report Card” is a very useful adjunct to the CDC’s Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that will let parents interactively evaluate their teens’ behavior on the road, make suggestions, and – if necessary – “ground” their teens if performance falls below par or fails to improve.

Mom and Dad are Watching (and Taking Notes)

Teen Driver can’t eliminate all the hazards of putting an inexperienced person with a still-developing brain at the wheel of a powerful automobile. But it’s the best system yet available for conditioning teens to focus and obey the rules of the road. For parents, it beefs up the monitoring already provided by GM’s Family Link – a feature of the OnStar system available to Cadillac owners – allowing parents to geo-locate their vehicles instantly, and also set text/email alerts that fire if their vehicle is driven beyond a certain range.

These two innovative safety systems – Teen Driver and Family Link – are valuable additions to the many new safety protections offered in Cadillac’s line of advanced technology cars. The hope is that as they’re more widely deployed in GM car fleets across America, they’ll make the roads safer – not just for teens – but for everyone sharing the roads with these young people. This technology is new, so there are no statistics available that can prove that GM’s systems have yet made a dent in today’s alarming teen driving statistics, but the systems appear to be popular with parents, which is what’s driving GM’s expansion of Teen Driver from Chevrolet (where it debuted in late 2015) widely across its other brands.

Interested in putting your teen behind the wheel of a safety-enhanced Cadillac? Please make an appointment with our dealership and we’ll be glad to put Teen Driving – and Cadillac’s other cutting-edge safety features — through their paces for you.

Posted in Tips