A lot of cars these days are jam packed with safety features. You have a host of airbags, anti-lock brakes, and even stability control. But all those features won't do much for you when you get in an accident if you aren't wearing a seat belt. How so?
In an accident, a seat belt keeps you in place and an accident car send you flying straight into the dash if you're not wearing it. To make sure that doesn't happen, General Motors, particularly Chevrolet and GMC, are making sure the driver is buckled up even before he or she sets off.
How, you might ask? The safety engineers over at GM designed a mechanism that keeps the vehicle's transmission locked in park if the seat belt is not locked in place. To be able to shift out of park, the driver only has one thing to do, which is to buckle up. In case the driver needs reminding, a prompt appears on the car's information display which says 'Buckle Seat Belt To Shift'.
This 'buckle up to drive' programming is part of GM's Teen Driver system. It's a rather clever system which allows parents to set a speed warning, limit the vehicle to 85 mph (about 140 km/h), and even limit audio volume. The vehicle's stability control is set at its most aggressive and it cannot be shut off when Teen Driver mode is engaged.
It can even give a 'report card' of sorts to parents which tells them the vehicle's total distance driven, the times the speed warning was activated, and even the times stability control was triggered. It even has a PIN code just so the teen driver can't disable the entire system. Parents with Chevrolets, go ahead and program it. Teens, you have been warned.
But not all Chevrolet products will come with this feature. For now, it's only for the US-spec models of the Colorado and Malibu, as well as the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Canyon. Eventually, the system will make its way to other GM products, but it would be interesting if they will apply 'Teen Driver' mode to models sold outside North America.
Then again, we also have to remind adults here to buckle up too.