Chevrolet, a division of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), has announced that it is adding a new Buckle to Drive feature to the Teen Driver mode for some of its vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts are the best way drivers can protect themselves in a crash. As teens have among the lowest rates of seat belt use, the feature may be an effective way to encourage them to wear their seat belts more often.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 60 percent of high school students report that they always wear their seat belts as passengers. Teen drivers also have the highest risk of getting in a fatal crash when calculated per mile driven. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that more than 2,000 lives could be saved if drivers of all ages wore their seatbelts all of the time.
According to an explanation from Chevrolet, when the feature is activated in Teen Driver mode, the auto will be able to start, but will not be allowed to shift into gear if the driver’s seat belt isn’t buckled. A message will alert the driver to buckle up, but after 20 seconds, the vehicle will operate normally regardless of whether the seat belt is buckled or not. The company said testing has proved that’s long enough to nudge drivers to do the right thing.
Chevrolet says the feature will come standard in the 2020 models of the Traverse SUV, Malibu sedan, and Colorado pickup truck. More models are likely to follow. The automaker says this is an industry first for consumer vehicles. A similar feature has been available on some commercial fleet models since 2015.
The Teen Driver package available for Chevrolet models has a number of features that allow parents to have some control over the way their teen drives. The package can be used to set speed alerts and a maximum speed, and can also mute the radio when seatbelts are undone. The system also creates report cards that track metrics like distance driven and the number of times safety systems are activated. The Teen Driver settings are turned on only when a registered key fob is used to start the vehicle.