From the moment your teen gets behind the wheel of a car you will have to contend with the anxiety that comes with knowing how many dangers lurk on the roadways (not the least of which is your teen driver himself). With several factors working against him, from peer pressure to inexperience to the foibles of other drivers, your teen is like an accident-magnet (hence the astronomical insurance you’re paying). But there are ways to save him from himself. Here are a few new safety features for vehicles that you may want to seek out when selecting a car for your teen to drive.
- In-dash navigation. This feature now comes standard on many cars and it can be a great boon to the inexperienced driver. It not only helps to find unfamiliar destinations with audio directives (so he doesn’t even have to look at the center console), but if the car is equipped with a rear camera the in-dash system can help him to back up, reducing the risk of running over curbs (or other objects) or bumping cars when parallel parking.
- Voice commands. Although there is, as yet, no perfect system when it comes to voice commands, there are several options to consider. The hands-free Siri system on the iPhone 4S is generally recognized as the best option when it comes to helping your teen keep his hands on the wheel, even while texting or tweeting. But built-in systems like OnStar (GM) and Sync (Ford) are also adding hands-free options, although the range of voice commands they offer is still pretty limited.
- HUD. The heads-up display is a feature that many teens will recognize from video games. Basically, the gauge cluster is projected onto the lower, driver’s side corner of the windshield so that your teen doesn’t have to take his eyes off the road to check speed, fuel level, or the time and temperature. The only downside to this technology is that it is far from becoming a standard feature, meaning you’ll probably have to pay top dollar for an aftermarket version.
- Collision-prevention system. Using an array of sensors and cameras, this technology keeps the vehicle at a set distance from the cars around it (in the front and on the sides), adjusting automatically to maintain using the vehicle’s braking and steering systems. In short, it keeps your teen from making potentially fatal errors in traffic, helping him to avoid accidents altogether. So far there are several manufacturers that offer this option, including high-end names like BMW and Mercedes-Benz as well as less expensive options like Ford, Toyota, and Volvo.
- Parental controls. If all else fails you can save your teen driver from himself. Hyundai’s Blue Link system will call, text, or email you when your teen breaks preset restrictions on speed, geographic location, and curfew. And Ford’s MyKey option allows you to program your teen’s keys so that the car will not go over a certain speed (and the stereo volume won’t exceed a certain decibel level) when his key is in the ignition. Before you sell trucks and trailers to get a new car, just be aware of the many features that can protect your teen driver so you can determine which car best suits your needs.
Author:Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.