New Chevrolet Malibu Gives Parents A Teen Driver Report Card.... Gimmick Or A Life Saver?

The 2016 cars will be out soon. This new Chevy will have as standard equipment on the high-end model, optional equipment on other models, a system that will monitor a teen driver’s road trips and offer a report to parents.

It will report distance, maximum speed, braking and stability control events, in addition to reporting on the safety warnings it handed out to the driver.

Obviously, even if parents want one of these for inexperienced, young drivers, not many will be able to afford a 2016 Malibu for their teen’s use, nor would they want them driving their brand new car.

However, some will want and afford to buy or lease this car and eventually these cars will age a bit and become lower priced used cars which are more affordable.

Without having more information on the system and its cost, is this a step in the right direction, invasion of privacy, potential lawsuit material, or a fad that will fade?


Link to The Detroit News article by Melissa Burden, March 20, 2015:

Sounds like a good “gimmick” to me.

Wow, that’s one smart car. It knows the age of its driver. It’s a good thing it won’t track me. My wife might catch up with my shenanigans if it did.

Gotta be careful of records. They can be used both for you and against you. I suspect this is just an enhancement of the Onstar system that already monitors everything, they just don’t tell you. State Farm has a program where they will monitor your driving with Onstar etc. and give you a discount based on certain performance parameters. I said no thanks.

What would happen if there was an accident and a passenger was killed? Certainly the information could be demanded by the other party to your detriment. Maybe the information will be there anyway in the Onstar cloud. I’d want to ask about the retention schedule for the information collected and who owns it. I always encouraged people to destroy record according to schedule just to avoid getting your own gun pointed at you.

It’s a good idea in concept. But in practice might not work out so much. First, who’s going to let their teenagers drive the family’s new car? The kids are gonna have to drive the older cars, the parents drive the new car. Eventually the car will age & be replaced and may become one the kids will drive, but by then the kids will likely have figured out how to hack the computer, posted the instructions on the internet, so none of those reports will ever see the light of day.

The other negative about all this is that the information won’t just be there when the kids drive, but when anybody drives. And so the car may end up tattling on you at some future court date or dispute with an insurance company. And while it is quite possible the computer will be wrong, you’ll have no way to cross examine it.

Couldn’t most of this information be recorded from the OBDII port on any car so equipped?
I’ve seen ads for Progressive insurance offering a dongle that does just this and giving discounts accordingly.

Double edged sword to me. The info could be helpful to parents but also available to others. That could lead to issues of others (car makers, insurance companies, police, etc) delving into who went where at what time and why were they there, etc, etc.

What happens if the teen is a safe driver and mom is hxxx on wheels. What if the insurance company wants a look at the data and jacks the rates through the roof on the assumption that the teen is the one responsible. Thumbprint and iris scans to sort out who did what…

Much like the story the other day about a rental car company using cameras in their rentals. That could lead to problems also if a wrong move is misinterpreted or someone takes a sip out of a bottle of root beer which is then mistakenly identified as an alcoholic drink.
A little much prying for my tastes… :frowning:

Detailed driving records of the sort you describe have been subpoenaed in numerous lawsuits. I hope anyone who buys into this has a damn good lawyer, because if anyone in their family makes a mistake the data could be evidence in one hell of a lawsuit. This statement is NOT theoretical; it’s happened countless times.

Thank God this technology didn’t exist when I was a kid in BC (before computers). I would have been mortified if my parents tracked my evening… parking… with my GF… at the local parking spots.

@George_San_Jose normally we wouldn’t use the newer cars as teenage drivers except at night or to the other side of town. We had a 1970 Datsun 510 Wagon because it was now the extra car which Mom bought new in 1970 and kept in decent shape. This was in the late 80’s-Early 90’s. The Datsun was for going to school and back during the day and then you could use one of the newer cars if Mom or Dad didn’t need to use them.

There have been products like this that plug into the OBDII port where you can set a geographical boundry and speed limits and see how your teenager drives. I’m thankful I didn’t have an audience for my drivers test like my older brother did (Dad’s office was across a parking lot and he told all his buddies what time/day to look out the window) By the time I took my test their office had moved to a new location.

Cell phone companies and app makers offer tracking programs for parents of teens (or suspicious spouses)… and the data can be accesses by the police to track your activities, too. GPS combined with the cell tower and wifi location provide very accurate location data as well as speed. My phone speedometer app is very accurate.

This feature on a cheaper car is similar to a data system offered on Corvettes for track day junkies, as well as folks who are convinced the parking valet is wailing on their new Vette. Like THIS guy;

The data is already there on OBD2. Port plug-in devices to monitor teens or drivers of your business trucks have been around for a while now. Insurance companies recently figured it out, too. I’m not sure there is a direct connection between accidents and “controlled” aggressive driving compared to a “granny” driver but if there is, these devices will clearly show it after a few years.

I’d never buy a Malibu. The fuel filler tube is on the wrong side! :wink:

The day this sort of thing becomes mandatory (beyond the few seconds of info that cars already store that can be retrieved after an accident) is the day I will resolve to buy only older cars or look into hacking it so that nothing can be recorded.

Here’s something you might find amusing…

Forgive me for not remembering the details but I think it was in last months Car and Driver, one of the guys was test driving a car in Montana. Just as they were going by the Little Big Horn site on the interstate, the thing just slammed on the brakes in a panic stop. Nothing ahead or behind so no harm no foul but it was enough to ruin his confidence.

I just happened to be looking at one of the back issues of CR this afternoon looking for sewing machine information, and ran across an article of protecting your driving privacy. I actually hadn’t thought of erasing or faking destinations and home sites on the navigation systems. Plus Onstar and others monitor everywhere you go in addition to your cell phone. Its all for a good purpose and I allow it too, but I really think we need to have some stringent safeguards on all this private information that is being collected and stored. The old response “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about” is just not good enough anymore.

That was their long term Kia K900
"At approximately 11,400 miles, the adaptive cruise control falsely identified a vehicle ahead and threw the K900 into a full panic stop on I-90 in southeastern Montana. A scary event. Could a giant bug have splattered on the radar’s lens? So far, we all have theories but no hard data."