Chevrolet is putting technology in its vehicles that encourages safe driving by teenagers. I hope it spreads to all General Motors divisions and the rest of the industry.
Even with the industry building the safest cars in history, auto-related fatalities are rising.
One of the biggest concerns is still drinking and driving, but I think there is one main problem.
Drivers don't have enough training. It is important to teach drivers and passengers to practice safe habits such as always using seat belts. Any incentive you can create to drive that user percentage higher is a good thing. Chevrolet is on the right track.
Among the automakers addressing the issue are some, including Ford, that have or sponsor safe-driving clinics for teens.
But all young drivers need top-notch driver training. Everything helps, but the driver's education courses in most high schools alone are inadequate.
I remember taking my kids to Bob Bondurant's driving school and talking him into starting a teen-driving course. It was terrific. Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving still offers an advanced teen-driving course. My kids learned a lot about avoiding crashes as well as how to handle a car in many life-threatening situations. They avoided the "big" crash we all fear.
But maybe it's time to use technology to push the envelope a bit.
Today we have sophisticated simulators that are used to learn and play race-car driver. How about programming simulators to teach young drivers how to cope with challenging situations in real-world driving?
Just as airline pilots train on simulators, drivers can be safely exposed to scenarios that would be far too dangerous on public highways.
What better place for a simulator than your local automobile retailer? Teach young people how to drive safely and give them brand loyalty for life. It makes sense to hook up with local high schools and put a simulator in the dealership.
If they can program a simulator to pretend it's the Indy 500, it should be possible to get a good driving course as well.
It might be a perfect project for the National Automobile Dealers Association to get behind for its centennial celebration in 2017.
New drivers need lots of good training.
A century ago, car dealers offered driver training simply because buyers didn't know how to drive. Today we have a good opportunity to train young drivers to be far better drivers.
Technology, simulators and auto retailers. It just might be the right time and the right place.