It’s a day parents around the country face with at least a little trepidation and anxiety: the day your teenager is licensed to drive.
But thanks to a new app called Family Link offered by General Motors and Ford, parents can monitor, restrict, and control some aspects of their teen driver’s behavior behind the wheel. It’s like having driving tutor accompany your teen driver. Maybe even better.
According to ABC7 Chicago, the new technology allows parents to communicate remotely with the specially equipped vehicles to program seat belt use, speed and radio volume. Parents can set boundaries for their teen drivers and see if they exceed those limits.
The app also generates a report card of key driver behaviors that increase the risk of an accident, such as hard braking, excessive speeding and tailgating. It can also unburden parents of some of the worry that comes with not knowing if their teen driver arrived at his or her destination safely.
“Family Link is going to text you when they arrive at work, when they arrive at home or at their friend’s house. This is all virtual, but it’s peace of mind for the parent,” Michael Harley, a freelance writer who is testing a vehicle for GM, told WABC7.
Mr. Harley’s son Patrick is driving the car. A report generated by the vehicle showed that Patrick was doing “a whole bunch” of hard braking and tailgating. The report opened up an opportunity for Mr. Harley and his son to talk about these problems. Days later, another report showed that Patrick’s tailgating dropped off significantly and there were no instances of hard braking.
Collaboration between the parents and their teen drivers is key. If used properly and responsibly, the technology can give both the parents and the teen driver more freedom. Using the app to spy on a teen driver’s behavior isn’t productive.
Debbie Hersman, former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman and current head of the National Safety Council, told ABC7 that she believes this technology will save lives. She uses it with her own son, who also appreciates the benefits.
Four teen drivers die in traffic accidents every day on average, according to AAA. New teen drivers are three times as likely to be involved in deadly accidents as more experienced drivers, WABC7 reported, citing AAA figures. The top three deadly factors in teen drivers’ performance behind the wheel are distraction, failure to use seat belts and speeding.