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Ages & Stages

Car Safety Technology: Designed to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

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When it comes to driving, teens and technology have a dangerous track record.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe driving policy, teens make up 7% of drivers involved in fatal crashes but 13% of those distracted by cell phones at the time.

The car safety technologies―listed in this article―are available in more and more cars and are helping keep young drivers safer.

Built-in Car Safety Technology:

Many newer-model vehicles have built-in driver assistance safety features available, including:

  • Electronic stability control (ESC). When a vehicle begins skidding on curvy or slippery roads, this computerized technology automatically applies the brakes to help drivers regain control of the steering. This technology is widely considered the most important vehicle safety advance since the introduction of seat belts and cuts the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by 50%. ESC has been required in most vehicles since 2012. Have an earlier model? Check for ESC availability here.

  • Rear vision cameras. As of May 1, 2018, all but the heaviest new vehicles sold in the United States must have rear vision cameras to help drivers back up safely. The law came about after pediatrician Greg Gulbransen, whose son died after a vehicle backed over him, helped promote awareness about the dangerous blind spot directly behind most vehicles.

  • Automatic braking. These systems use lasers, radar, or even video to gauge if the speed of the vehicle is greater than the speed of objects in front of it. If there's a big speed difference, signaling a potential crash, the system automatically slows or stops the vehicle.

  • Blind spot threat detection. This technology alerts drivers when vehicles are near—approaching in the next lane, for example—but not yet visible, making lane changes safer.

  • Lane-maintenance alerts. Using video, laser or infrared sensors, a lane departure warning system alerts the driver if the vehicle drifts over the lane mark.

  • Teen-specific driver safety technology. Automakers may soon offer built-in advanced driver assistance technology that can be tailored to new drivers. Some vehicles already have smart key fobs and other features that limit speed and block certain electronic distractions. Also, some insurance companies provide families with in-vehicle monitoring and feedback devices for new teen drivers.

Parental Control Safe Driving Apps:

In addition to in-car technology, a variety of smart phone apps are now available to help parents monitor their teen's driving. Some alert parents if their teen drives faster than a pre-set limit, goes outside certain boundaries or gets in a crash. Some apps warn drivers to slow down and turn off their cell phones if it senses a teen is driving.


Nothing can replace a parent's guidance and supervision to help keep teen drivers safe on the road. Let your teen driver know your expectations for when he or she is behind the wheel. Use our Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to be sure you and your teen agree to your family's "rules of the road."

Preventing CollisionsAdditional Information:

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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