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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Staff Editorial: Technology intervenes to save teen drivers’ lives

We’ve all seen the student driver vehicles on the roads, teaching young drivers how to handle a motor vehicle properly and safely prior to receiving their driver’s license. We’ve also seen legal teen drivers zip in and out of traffic during rush hour while changing cds and texting their "BFFs."

Thankfully, Ford Motor Co. will be limiting these problems for young drivers in the near future.

Ford will feature new parental driving controls on its 2010 models, which can limit teen drivers to 80 mph with a computer chip located on the vehicle’s key. The chip can also control audio levels and will continuously sound an alarm if seatbelts aren’t buckled.

"Our message to parents is, ‘hey, we are providing you some conditions to give your new drivers that may allow you to feel a little more comfortable in giving them the car more often’," Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s director of electronic and electrical systems engineering, said in an Associated Press release.

The news comes while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is trying to raise the legal driving age to 17 or 18, reassuring that raising the driving age will reduce the number of fatal accidents.

More than 5,000 teens die each year in auto accidents in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA also states that the rate of both fatal and non-fatal crashes per mile driven for 16-year-old drivers is almost 10 times that of drivers aged 30-59.

As expected, the response from teens wasn’t exactly optimistic.

"I wouldn’t want my parents to have that much control over how I’m driving," 16-year-old Danisha Willams told the AP.

Unfortunately for Williams and many other young drivers, they have no say in the matter. The decision to apply the limits on Ford’s cars will be up to the person purchasing the vehicle – most likely a parent or guardian.

But young drivers shouldn’t be too upset. They are getting a car out of the deal after all. Besides, anybody with less than a year or two of driving experience shouldn’t be driving faster than 80 mph to begin with. Taking away the ability to do so is the best way to control that.

Sixteen and 17 year-old teens are still learning how to be adults and learning how to drive safely is a part of that. It’s true most of us don’t drive with both hands on the wheel, checking all our mirrors continuously and making complete stops at stop signs, but the more we drive, the more we understand roads and highways. Restricting unsafe practices during early stages cannot be a bad thing.

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