Local News

Modern Technology May Help Parents Keep Up With Teen Drivers

Posted March 10, 2006

— Excessive speed and a young driver can be a deadly combination. Modern technology could help parents slow young drivers.

In the wake of a recent accident involving four students from Wakefield High School, Chris Leith, of Leith Automotive said his company has received a lot of inquiries from parents wanting to know about ways to restrict speed or monitor the speed of vehicles when their children are driving.

"We've called the manufacturer and we've all concluded that there are some challenges involved in that," he said.

Many top-end speeds on cars are set by the manufacturer. For example, the Chevy Tahoe has a factory-installed top speed of 98 miles per hour. Some people question that if they can set it at the factory for 98 mph, why can't a parent set it for 55 or 65 mph in their own car? Automotive experts said it is not as easy as popping the hood.

"If you try to reduce the speed through that main computer, it throws off the emissions and then the EPA has a problem with that," Leith said.

Adjusting one command, like speed, can throw off the balance of today's complicated computer-controlled engines. A parent's best bet for monitoring speed now is a GPS system that is installed in most cars that is linked to a Web site.

Parents can set the bar for excessive speed. If someone driving the car exceeds that, it e-mails the parent with a message that reads "slow down." A parent can, then, learn where the car is and how fast it is going.

Technicians are working on a special key system that would tell the car how fast that driver is allowed to drive.

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