With aftermarket devices that track and give data on your drive from companies like Vinli and Zubie, it was only a matter of time until the automakers got involved. Chevrolet is one such brand that has recently developed a system that aims to give parents information on their teen drivers that would also track and improve their own driving habits. We took the keys of a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch to experience the Teen Driver options to see how well (or poor) we scored with the OnStar Smart Driver report.
We all remember the day that we first got our license and the concerned look on our parents faces as we drove away. The sense of freedom and excitement that we have as a teen driver can often mask the real dangers of hitting the open road. The truth is that, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers between the age of 16 and 19 have a driving fatality rate three times higher than drivers over the age of 20. This has led General Motors to develop Teen Driver technology features in nearly every model their latest lineup to help educate and set boundaries for new drivers.
Our 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch had the latest MyLink system that features the Teen Driver technology. The Teen Driver system is included at no extra cost on this particular model. Our Cruze also had several additional safety features including forward collision, rear cross traffic, and lane change alerts as part of the $790 “driver confidence package.” To enable the Teen Driver features you simply go into the MyLink settings and setup a PIN code and specific key for your Teen Driver. This adds the limits for the driver with that particular key and locks them out of changing the settings (unless they figure out your PIN).
Drivers between the age of 16 and 19 have a driving fatality rate three times higher than drivers over the age of 20.
Within these settings, you will find the ability to do everything from limit the vehicle speed to setting a maximum volume limit. You can even create a speed warning for the driver at a specific speed between 40 and 75 mph to remind them to slow things down a bit. We set the warning at 65 mph to give us a verbal warning when we were at the highway limit. In addition to these custom settings, the system will mute the audio until all passengers have fastened their seatbelts and does not allow any safety features such as traction control or lane keep assist (on equipped models) to be disabled.
All of these systems worked very well as we did our best to imitate a teen during our time behind the wheel. Hopping behind the wheel and turning up the radio would prove futile until we yelled at the passenger to “buckle up.” Any attempts to turn off the lane keep system and blast down the highway at over 70 mph were met with a visual warning on the dashboard display. The only true speed limiting setting will not allow the driver to go over 85 mph and works like a charm (or so we’re told). The Chevrolet MyLink system can also keep track of driving habits and show a report card of sorts in the Teen Driver settings. In our week of the worst that Los Angeles traffic has to offer, our highlights included 173 tailgating alerts and 28 wide open throttle moments. Fortunately, the forward collision and traction control systems were only triggered twice each during our week. All of this technology could certainly help a younger driver be aware on the road and help parents also be aware of what safety concerns they should discuss.
OnStar Smart Driver
Safety may be a bigger concern for new drivers, but drivers of all ages are becoming more distracted and increasingly more dangerous. In addition to the systems tracking teen drivers, General Motors and OnStar have developed the OnStar Smart Driver system to help give a score and track your driving de-tails. The smart driver program is available in newer GM vehicles and is included free for five years as part of the basic OnStar plan.
As we had the opportunity to drive the 2017 Cruze Hatch, the OnStar system would log all of the driving data. Later, we were able to login online to the OnStar website and see various scores and feedback on each of our trips in the vehicle. The smart driver score is determined based on four major factors including instances of hard braking, hard acceleration, late night driving, and distance driven. The OnStar site shows each of these instances and assigns a total score to your driving. We maintained a score of 80 most of the week but had a couple days of “hard braking” that dropped us into the 70s.
All of this data can be used to compare your historical driving habits and even see how you rank compared to other Cruze drivers or drivers local to your state. OnStar has also partnered with several car insurance companies to allow you to check for discounts. Your driving data is shared anonymously with the companies and you can make the decision to share your personal information only if you are eligible for a discount. Therefore, the OnStar Smart Driver system may even be able to offer a financial incentive to encourage drivers to watch their habits. We got fairly competitive when checking our score each day and the ability to best other members of your family alone could save your life out on the road.
Distraction while driving continues to grow with the addition of technology such as in-car Wi-Fi, in-car applications, and the general prevalences of smartphone use. It is nice to see a car manufacturer taking safety to the next level and reminding the driver to focus on the drive. Many may feel like a feature like Teen Driver removes any trust a parent may have for their child. But we think it is a great tool to simply communicate potential improvements and help coach a young driver on positive habits behind the wheel. Overall, the Teen Driver and OnStar Smart Driver technologies are a great tool for drivers of any age to learn how to keep alert on the road and avoid an accident.
- Easy setup for Teen Driver settings
- Ability to mute audio until seat belts are fastened
- Detailed Teen Driver report card
- Insurance discount option with OnStar Smart driver technology
- Smart Driver stats not available in the vehicle