TECH BYTE: Tech to Keep You Safe Behind the Wheel

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — We’re in the middle of the 100 Deadliest Days of driving.

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is when most teens get killed behind the wheel.

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Many people killed in car crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Chevrolet Safety Engineer Tricia Morrow say that’s why they developed the “Buckle to Drive” feature, to get teens to buckle up.

“When the teen gets in the car, if the vehicle’s on, and they’re not wearing their seat belt, if they go push on that brake to shift, the shifter will actually be locked, and not let them shift into drive until they put their seat belt on, really giving a strong reminder of the importance of wearing their seat belts,” Morrow said.

That feature is one of several available in Chevrolet’s Teen Driver system, which has been around since 2015.

“It just requires activation,” Morrow said. “When you activate a teen key, which is easy to do through the driver information center, teen driver is then active every time you turn the car on with that key. What happens is, when you get into the vehicle, it just offers a little bit more peace of mind for the parents, knowing that with teen driver active, the radio will mute if the driver and detected passenger are not wearing their seat belts. All the active safety features which we know work, and we know reduce crash speeds and reduce crashes altogether, those are all defaulted on.”

When parents set up the teen key, they can set up certain features in the system.

“They can also set the top vehicle speed to 85 miles an hour, set speed alerts between 40 and 75 miles an hour, and then when the teen goes out, all of this information is recorded,” she said. “So when they come back, what it offers the parents is a data driven report card to have a conversation with their teen.”

Another safety feature both teens and adults can take advantage of is the Rear Seat Reminder.

Morrow says they developed it in response to the tragic heat stroke deaths we see each year.

It’s tied to the use of your back door.

“If you open your rear door, simply put, we think you’re putting something in there, and at the end of your journey, we’ll give a reminder – rear seat reminder, look in rear seat. It’s that simple,” she said. “That’s just what we want you to do. Take a look back there. It could be your gym bag. Nobody likes to go into work and forget their laptop, or forget their leftovers, but most importantly it could be your pet or a child in that backseat.”

Many GM vehicles also have other safety features like forward collision alert, a lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and rear view cameras.

“When it first came out, maybe customers didn’t really think they needed it, or didn’t really accept that feature, and now, I don’t know how many of us would park without it,” Morrow said. “Just a really great example on how these features are so useful, and how, with customer acceptance, you’ll see them being put across the board as standard features.”

And you can bet vehicles across the board will continue to get safer, and more high tech.

If you’d like to learn more about the Teen Driver Technology, go to ChevyTeenDriver.com.

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You can watch Emily Cassulo weeknights on News 12 Now starting at 5:30. Emily also does stories on different tech products and issues for Tech Byte, which airs Mondays on News 12 Now. She joined the WDEF news team in September 2016 from News 12’s sister station in Columbus, Mississippi, where she worked as an anchor, producer and reporter. Emily is no stranger to the Volunteer State. Before moving to Mississippi, she worked at WBBJ-TV, covering crime and severe weather throughout West Tennessee. She loves living in Chattanooga, and exploring what the Scenic City has to offer. Emily is a Florida native, graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism and minor in political science. While in college, Emily worked part-time as a reporter/web producer at News/Talk 96.5 WDBO. She broke her first news story there, which made national headlines, and covered the 2010 Central Florida congressional elections and the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. When she’s not busy reporting, Emily enjoys shopping, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends. Feel free to e-mail her at ecassulo@wdef.com if you have any story ideas or just want to say ‘Hi.’