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Teen Health and Safety

How New Technology Makes the Roads Safer for Teens

Photo: Courtesy of Hannah Sutherland

Every year more than 30,000 people die in car crashes, and for our teen drivers, who are still working on building skill and experience, crashes remain the number one cause of death. Technology may be the way forward out of our current roadway epidemic.

Changing vehicles

Today’s cars feature new safety technology that’s changing the game. While safety features that help minimize the severity of crashes, such as airbags, have been around for a while, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring other new features can help the driver avoid a crash altogether.

Autonomous vehicles are not here yet, but we have a hint of what’s to come. Our teens will grow up with this technology as part of their driving experience, an advantage our parents — and even we — did not have. Backup cameras will be required in new cars starting in 2018 and earlier this year 20 automakers committed to making automatic emergency braking a standard feature by 2022.

Your involvement is an integral part of helping your teen driver stay safe on the road. Your knowledge and experience help build the foundation of your teen’s driving skills. Your car may not have every new feature, but being familiar with them can help as you teach your teen.

Teaching new (and old) skills

It’s important for new drivers to understand and properly use these features. Start with the basics. Make sure your teen has the fundamentals down before using advanced safety features.

Explain how to properly use the safety features that are in your car. Some features are passive, such as ABS brakes, but your teen should still be familiar with how the system works and what to do if it doesn’t engage.

Stress the fact that technology is not a replacement for driver skill or judgment. A backup camera does not replace walking around before getting in and backing up, or checking the mirror and turning around to ensure nothing is behind the car. Also, a blind spot monitoring system does not mean your teen should change lanes without looking and making sure it is safe to do so.

Technology is moving quickly and perhaps nobody knows that better than the younger generation. Take some extra time to familiarize them with vehicle safety technology and allow them to experience the features under your watchful eye and in a safe environment. Knowing how these systems work and when to use them will make them safer on the road today and prepare them for the future ahead.

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