Car Systems Limit Speed, Monitor Location To Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Nov 03, 2014 06:30 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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New safety systems that limit vehicle speed and track location may help parents rest easier while teenage drivers are on the road.

Ford has offered MyKey, which allows parents to curb both the car's maximum speed and the radio volume, while the General Motors Family Link tracks a car's location and alerts parents or guardians via text message if the vehicle goes outside the designated area, according to a CBS News report.

"MyKey is not about control, it's about love," said Ford safety executive and father of two Andy Sarkisian, as quoted by CBS' MoneyWatch. "It's about helping them manage the transition from childhood to adulthood and keeping them safe while they do it."

The safety technology, which is available for any vehicle outfitted with the MyFordTouch infotainment system, can cap the car's maximum speed at 80 mph and issue beeping alerts whenever it hits certain speeds such as 50 mph or 60 mph. Additionally, the radio won't turn on if the occupants don't have their seat belts fastened.

GM's Family Link system works through the automaker's OnStar service and costs an additional $3.99 per month. It doesn't exact limits on the vehicle itself, but Family Link will send parents a text message if a car is driven outside the previously stipulated safe area.

John McFarland, GM director of global marketing and innovation, says that parents need to be sure to communicate with their kids about safe driving systems.

"You have to be really transparent with your teenagers about what technology you are using and why," said McFarland, as quoted by CBS. "I plan to tell my son in a few years when he can drive that we need to have an agreement where and how he can drive and that technology lets me make sure he is living up to that agreement."

Safe teen driving was recently commemorated with National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs Oct. 19-25.

Last month, ADEPT Driver, the maker of teenSMART, released a new risk calculator app called "Risk-O-lator" that allows teen drivers and parents to measure the increased risk of being involved in a collision based on choices made by teen drivers.

The app works by calculating how risks for teen drivers increase and are compounded by activities such as texting while driving, speeding, tailgating, driving at night and driving with other teens in the car. 

Parents who are concerned about their teen drivers should make sure that they aren't the ones doing the distracting: A recent study found that teen drivers frequently talked on the phone while driving because their parents called.

More than half of 408 teens aged between 15 and 18 who participated in the study said that they were talking on the phone to their mom or dad, USA TODAY reported.

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