Protecting Teen Drivers

Here’s a sobering fact: Car crashes are the number-one killer of teenagers in the United States. Contributing to this gruesome fact are behaviors such as speeding, lack of seat belt use, drinking, and, of course, texting. Various automobile manufacturers have addressed this issue with innovative safety technologies and many of the systems they have developed are quite unique. In short article we look at systems from Ford, GM, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz.


The Ford MyKey system is one of the best and uses an innovative “multiple-key” approach. Introduced in 2010, the MyKey system has received a great deal of praise from the automotive press. The core of the MyKey system is a second key just for younger drivers that can be programmed with “restrictions”. Here are some of the features offered to parents:

  • Sets off an alarm and won’t allow the radio to go on when a seat belt isn’t fastened
  • Sets a top speed up to 80 mph, with chimes that go off at 45, 55, or 65 mph.
  • Limits audio volume.
  • Driving aids such as blind spot, park aid, and traction control cannot be deactivated.
  • Set the low-fuel warning at an earlier level, so instead of 50 miles to empty, you can change it to 75 miles.

GM’s Family Link does not use the separate key approach. It is part of OnStar and costs $3.99 a month on top of the OnStar subscription fees. Family Link is the most affordable driver safety plan offered to date. It allows parents to find their teen’s car on a map on their website and receive a text or email as to their whereabouts. Parents can set a time to receive a geo-based alert, which is helpful to verify they arrived at their destination safely.

Mercedes-Benz mbrace2 has similar features as Hyundai’s BlueLink (below). It adds an interesting feature called Safe Ride that allows the driver to signal they need help getting home, such as if they are intoxicated. The cost for mbrace2 is $280 a year and $20 more for mbrace plus, which adds a geo-fencing (restricts where the car can be driven), speed alerts, a comprehensive driving journal, and travel assistance.

Hyundai BlueLink is similar to OnStar in that it keeps track of the vehicle and driver’s safety in an emergency. For $179 a year, you get roadside-assistance features in addition to teen safeguards, such as a speed alert, geo-fencing and curfew alert. This allows parents to set these boundaries on the car and to receive a message when they are overridden.

The reception by the public to these safety features by the public has been strong. The fees can sometimes sound expensive for these services, yet in reality most families would probably use them just for a couple of years. In the meantime, lives may have been saved.

Source: Ames Ford

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