There comes a point in every parent's life when they think they have this whole parenting thing under control; everybody is potty trained, can tie their own shoes and go to full-day school. Seven blissful hours of freedom! And then your child turns into a teenager with their sights set on learning to drive and the @#$% hits the fan.
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That's why parents are so grateful for any little bit of extra help they can get. Chevrolet is the latest car manufacturer to consider parents' woeful pleas, and is launching its Teen Driver system in the 2016 Malibu.
Teen Driver is a subscription-free system that keeps track of the distance driven, maximum speed traveled, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts (if equipped) and forward collision braking events (if equipped). It stays with the Malibu permanently, and follows the key fob for which it is activated. Parents log into the MyLink system to activate the system. Teen Driver is standard on the Premier trim and optional on LT models equipped with the Convenience Package and uplevel radio.
Parents can set Teen Driver to alert teens both visually and audibly if they exceed the preset speed limit, anywhere from 40 to 75 miles per hour. Parents can also set a maximum volume for the audio system, and the system will be muted until the front occupants are safely buckled. Additionally, all of the Malibu's safety systems are set to "on" with Teen Driver and cannot be turned off by the teen. That's right, no turning off the traction control to impress friends with "Fast and Furious" drifting impressions.
All of this information is then transmitted to parents via a "report card" on the car's infotainment screen. Parents can use this as a learning tool to help communicate with their teen about safe-driving practices.
In our home, we're going to have a new teen driver in the family every other year for the next six years. We can cross our fingers that one of our three daughters won't end up a tragic statistic, or we can actively seek out ways to help them become the safest drivers possible. I'm grateful to be raising children during a time when safe teen driving is a major platform for many car manufacturers, including Chevrolet. If it helps keep my girls safe, I'm a fan.