Chevrolet is giving parents with young drivers a new tool in the brand’s Teen Driver safety tech package. If the vehicle is in Teen Driver mode, the Buckle to Drive feature keeps the shifter in Park until the driver buckles up.
Teen Driver mode is activated by the teen’s key fob, which parents can register with a PIN code in the vehicle settings. With Buckle to Drive, if the vehicle is started and the driver presses the brake without buckling up, the vehicle sounds an audible alert and the instrument cluster displays a “Buckle seat belt to shift” warning. If the belt remains unbuckled, the driver will not be able to shift out of Park for up to 20 seconds, which sounds short but likely would seem like forever to a teenager.
Buckle to Drive will be standard on the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse SUV, Malibu sedan and Colorado pickup truck, and it is in addition to a current Teen Driver seat belt prompt that keeps the audio muted until both the driver and any front passenger have buckled up.
Chevy rolled out the Teen Driver system in 2015 to help parents encourage safe habits. In addition to the seat belt reminders, tools include:
- A report card on a teen’s driving that includes distance driven, maximum speed reached, any warnings the driver got for exceeding a parent-set speed limit, instances of wide-open throttle and how many times safety systems such as stability control, traction control and antilock braking were activated.
- A parent-set limit on maximum audio volume.
- Automatic activation of any safety tech, such as a forward collision warning, if the vehicle has such tech (and it should, whether you have a teen driver or not).
- Visual and audible speed warnings if the driver exceeds a speed parents can set between 40 and 75 mph.
- A parent-set maximum speed of 85 mph for the vehicle.
To underline the importance of the new feature, Chevrolet cited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research showing that buckling up is the most important action drivers can take to protect themselves in a crash, with belts saving an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. NHTSA also reports that of 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes that year, 47 percent were not wearing seat belts.
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Chevy also cited grim statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, killing 2,433 ages 16 to 19 in 2016. The CDC also says that compared with other age groups, teens have among the lowest rates of seat belt use.
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