GM To Debut 'Teen Driver' Programmable Car

John Lister's picture

General Motors is releasing a car with a series of features designed to reassure parents that their children will drive safely. It also lets them access reports about driving activity.

The 'Teen Driver' system will debut in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. The system works by having multiple electronic key fobs: teens get their own set of keys which will automatically switch the system on when used.

Teen Driver has two main elements. The first is monitoring, which allows the car owner to access a 'report card' about the activity while the teen was driving. This includes the total distance driven, the highest speed reached and the number of times the driver exceeded a pre-programmed speed limit.

GM Teen Driver Reports Detail Incidents

The report also includes details of any incident where the car skidded, braked suddenly, or activated optional safety features designed to alert the driver when a collision is imminent.

As well as reporting after the fact, Teen Driver also allows car owners to reduce risks in advance. For example, while the car has many optional safety features that can normally be switched off, parents can set the system so that any or all of the features are mandatory while the teen is driving. This include alerts of potential hazards, parking assistance, and automated lighting controls. (Source:

GM Teen Driver Car Programmable

The parent can also select a maximum speed, with the car giving the teen audible and visual alerts if they exceed it. When Teen Driver is activated, the car's sound system will be muted until both the driver and any front seat passenger have secured their safety belts. There's also an option to set a maximum volume on the radio, protecting against both hearing damage and distraction.

The system isn't subscription-based and will instead work for as long as the car is in use.

Driving Feature Only for Top Models

One drawback, which is somewhat unavoidable, is that the system is coming in with a new car and is only included as standard with more expensive versions of the model. The top-end 2015 version of the Malibu costs around $29,000, so it's most likely not necessarily the type of car parents would want to lend to teenage children anyway.

It could have an advantage however: insurers might be more willing to offer discounts on insurance for teen drivers where the feature is activated.

Several commentators have also argued that the system misses out on the biggest danger to teen drivers, namely distracted driving. One suggestion is that the system should include a cellphone jammer that's activated whenever the car is in motion. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you believe that the Teen Driver system will be a useful feature for parents? Are there other features you think it should include?

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Dennis Faas's picture

It sounds promising but the technology needs to be available for other / less expensive car models. It's not clear if the car will produce reports after the fact or as it happens; personally, I would want to be able to view real-time data of the car, including its location at all times via my smartphone. Also, a kill switch would be nice in case the car is stolen.

georgegrimes's picture

I believe that both of those features are available if you have OnStar.

Brian's picture

This is a start but a log of where the teen drove is not offered. A system that logs GPS position and speed would be more useful than a maximum speed allowed. For example, I live in an commuter town near a large metropolitan centre. The practical way to get there is to use the expressway with a higher maximum speed than the secondary roads.
Driving on the expressway at 80 km/h would be dangerously slow because the maximum speed is 100 km/h.
But driving at 80 km/h on an urban street where the maximum speed is set at 50 km/h would be dangerous driving.
This is well within the abilities of the present technology.
Another feature that should be considered is an in car video record and a dash cam.
Both of these could be used for more than spying on the teen driver, the video could be reviewed by the parent and used as a teaching opportunity.