MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Whether your teen is out for prom or just a night out with friends, auto designers hope some new technology will also keep new drivers safe. From auto-cruise control, to speed limit tracking, technology is running wild in many of today's vehicles. WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely put some to the test.
Colleen Becker, 16, is one of the newest teen drivers in Myrtle Beach, thanks to help from her instructor Mike Doneff of Safe Driving School.
“I’m really excited, all my friends already have their license, so it's good to join them,” said Becker. But she also realizes the dangers young drivers face, and they're deadly. According to the SC Department of Public Safety, 50 teen drivers died in crashes last year, 8 so far this year, with speeding listed as the number one contributing factor. Becker is aware of the other distractions. “I don't want to have people blowing up my phone, don't want to have people in my back seat yelling at me, yeah, I'm really scared,” said Becker.
Safety features like Teen Driving mode in the 2016 Chevy Malibu could help young drivers like Becker.
“As it says here Teen Driving mode is active, radio is muted until all seat belts are fastened,” said Tony Collins of Palmetto Chevrolet. Collins took Michael for a ride to show us something called Teen Driving Mode, an option you can add to any Malibu that has an 8-inch display screen. It allows parents to set warnings for their teens to go off in the car, anytime they exceed the set speed.
“I'm receiving a warning based on what I set it at vehicle over speed, so it's telling me hey, as a teen, you've just busted the limit your parents have set for you,” said Collins. Once the car is back home, parents can view the car's report card on the navigation screen It will show them details on the speed and how aggressive your teen may have been driving. “That shows that I went over the speed four times, which was set at 40, max speed was 53.2 and I tried to disable the system and I did a hard stop.”
“The peace of mind to know they're not going to go over the speed limit, music down safety belt on, so important, I think it'd be worth it,” said Patrice Becker, Colleen’s mom, who wishes the gadgets were available when her other children started to drive.
Other safety technology found in a variety of cars includes lane departure warning, which can alert you or vibrate the steering wheel if you swerve into another lane. There's also a collision warning system that can warn you, even stop the car, if you're close to crashing. And various types of cruise control features which pace your car with the one ahead.
“Adaptive cruise control - you set the cruise at 60 mph on the interstate and you come up on a car, that car will actually slow down for you, said Collins.
Other GPS technology allows parents to track where the car is on GPS, through cell phones and computers.
“I don't like that, invasion of privacy,” said Colleen.
“I do like that, because there are certain parts of town you might not want them in, or even if lost, if you need to help them if their car broke down,” Patrice said.
Another device is called Split Second; it plugs into the car's cigarette lighter. It runs around $99, then $10 dollars a month. “If that car's in a wreck, they'll call emergency services, right away,” said Mike Doneff of Safe Driving School. Some phones and cars also offer a feature that prevents calls and texts, while driving,
“A device like that would also stop habits, before they become bad habits,” said Colleen.
“Any kind of teen safety, I'm for that, as long as they can still concentrate up ahead and they're not dealing with a lot of things while that car's moving,” Doneff said. However, he also said with 13 teen deaths every day across the country, he hopes young drivers don't become lazy, thinking all the new safety features will replace common sense. “The youngsters think they can multitask, the average text takes 6 seconds, you're looking down for 4 seconds…that's a whole football field if you're on 501 out there, before you look back up,” he said. “I don't want my family hit, because that text is so important.”
Colleen says she gets the message: “I'm very against texting and driving and I have so many friends who do it, and I get so angry with them.”
Both say they welcome the technology. “Getting yelled at by my mom would probably, even though I don't like it, it'd probably help me be a safer driver,” said Colleen.
“Your teen's life is worth a lot more than any gadgets are.” Patrice said.
See below for links to some of the products in this story and other apps and programs that could help keep your teen driver safe:
Car Safety Devices and apps links:
Cell phone Safety Links:
Driver Safety Video: