Chevrolet's Teen Driver lets parents spy on their children’s driving

Chevrolet has unveiled a new in-car monitoring feature that allows parents to spy on their children’s driving.

The Teen Driver system will debut as part of the Chevrolet Malibu series due in 2016 and will enable anxious guardians to monitor top speed, distance travelled and other metrics.

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Parents can set a top speed for the vehicle, which when exceeded results in an audio and visual alert. If you’re feeling particularly controlling, there’s even the ability to set a maximum volume level for the in-car radio.

The feature has safety as its primary motive, with the fatal crash rate among 16 to 19 year olds in the US being three times higher than for drivers aged 20 and over. Understandably this can cause parents to feel concerned for their children, particularly when they’re inexperienced drivers.

“Teen Driver is technology that I think many parents would appreciate. We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids," explained MaryAnn Beebe, safety engineer for General Motors. "They can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits. As a mother of two, I know anything that has the potential of keeping one's family safer is of great value to parents."

While helping to improve road safety is, of course, a worthwhile cause, the invasion of the young driver’s privacy is likely to be less well received. In particular, the fact that parents can access a driving “Report Card” showing the number of collision alerts is probably not going to be appreciated by teenage drivers.

Parents are required to first set up a personal PIN-code in the Teen Driver’s settings menu where they can then register their child’s key fob. Any safety features will then be applied to that particular fob, while other drivers have unrestricted control over the vehicle.

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Teen Driver is just one of many software-based features being designed for the automobile industry. Cars are no longer simply a means of getting from one place to the next and are increasingly being shipped with high-tech features capable of tracking your driving data.