How involved in teen driver safety should parents be?

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Over the past few years, as new safety technologies like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and telematics have become ubiquitous with newly manufactured vehicles, safety has once again become a hot topic. However some are questioning whether tracking technologies are beginning to go too far, with the introduction of several child monitoring features built into the new Chevy Malibu, many of which were shown off at the recent New York motor show.

Like many new cars the new Malibu features a number of traditional safety features and has lots of new bells and whistles like improved stability, a lighter frame, automated safety features and more, but it’s the tracking features that have some people worried. Built into the car is what some are terming the “snitch key,” which parents can plug in to the car to give them read outs on how the vehicle was driven and even view video of how their child or significant other behaves while behind the wheel.

The idea for this is two fold. Firstly, its very inclusion and the threat of having a parent see what you’ve been doing behind the wheel of a brand new car, should dissuade a lot of young drivers from acting up. However, for those that decide to do it anyway, there will be video and statistical evidence to prove what they did, which will allow parents to take appropriate action.

Some have argued against the tech however, suggesting that it kills the personal privacy afforded by having one’s own car and beyond that, will make it hard for teenagers to make their first step outside the parental nest, with their parents watching over them all of the time. Opponents argue that this could stunt development and make young people even more reliant on their parents.

Other additions included with the monitoring mode include the ability to set a maximum volume for the stereo, which is hoped will help prevent further distraction for the young person behind the wheel, as it’s distractions that are said to be the key problem for many drivers – young and old.

What do you guys think of this new addition? Is it an invasion of young people’s privacy and will it make them worse drivers in the long run? Or will it teach them valuable lessons early on which all too many of us lose once we’ve been driving on our own for a few months?

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.