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Teaching Your Teen Not to Depend on Technology in Cars

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

As cars have continually evolved, the driving experience includes many technological advancements. We might love how these cool gadgets make driving simpler, but it’s essential to remember sometimes the technology in our cars doesn’t work correctly! For parents who are teaching their teens how to drive, this is a key lesson to include in their driving lessons.

During our coaching sessions, I stress to my students the importance of understanding how technology can fail. For example, I was recently driving with a student on a road with a speed limit of 25 mph. My new car is a 2020 Honda Insight Hybrid and it can scan the speed limit signs as you pass them and display it on the dashboard. Sounds pretty helpful, right?

However, as you can see from these photos, this technology was clearly malfunctioning.

Instrument panel of car with digital display of speed limit sign
Instrument panel of car with digital display of speed limit sign

The display was claiming a speed limit of 80 mph, and later on, 100 mph! This proves the feature can’t always be trusted. Teens need to regularly check the speed limit signs and adjust their speed accordingly.

You should also be wary of back up cameras. While these cameras are nice, you should not look at only the camera when backing up the vehicle. Remind your teen to look at their side-view and rear-view mirrors and over both shoulders - even if just coming out of the driveway! Watch this video to see a perfect example of what you may be missing by only looking at the camera.

A few other features to consider are lane departure sensors, collision warnings, and automatic emergency braking systems. While these safety features are helpful, they do NOT replace a driver’s own eyes.

If we become too dependent on these technologies, then we are putting ourselves - and others - at risk! You should not rely on them to inform you of all hazards on the road. Teenage drivers need to be responsible and make sure they are aware of all their surroundings.

One other reason why it’s crucial for teens not to become dependent on these features is that they may not always be driving a car that has these features. Perhaps they learn how to drive on Mom and Dad’s car, which is newer and has these nice features. A few years later, however, they go and purchase their own car, which is older and doesn’t come equipped with all those bells and whistles. Now, if they are used to the lane assist and back up camera, they won’t have the safe habits set in stone. They are more likely to make a mistake, which can have serious consequences.

These technologies can be helpful, but it’s critical to teach your teen not only how to use them properly, but more importantly, what happens if they fail!

Looking for more resources to help you teach your teen how to drive?


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