SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Want A Game-Changing Technology Solution? Ask An Inspired Mom.


QUICKLY

As a General Motors engineer and Teen Driving Technology developer, MaryAnn Beebe is dedicated to keeping kids safe.

Every parent eventually gets there: Sitting up at night, wondering what your teen driver is doing. Are they driving safely? Did they buckle up? It’s nerve-wracking. Now, through smarts and technology, General Motors is making this age-old problem a little less stressful.

Our Teen Driver Technology began with a simple goal: Encourage safe driving for those in one of the most at-risk age groups behind the wheel. When it came to developing Teen Driver, a technology that helps teens improve their road skills, a team of Safety Engineers, including MaryAnn Beebe, had all the right qualifications.



Safety Gets Personal

The chance to make a positive impact through innovative technology inspired Beebe to pursue engineering. A second-generation Detroit automotive employee, her devotion to safety traces back to a serious car crash when she was a child. The experience stuck with her through her biomechanical engineering studies at the University of Michigan.

Beebe joined General Motors after graduation. The opportunity to apply her mechanical engineering know-how to biological systems — a discipline typically associated with biomedical fields — aligned with her goals as a safety engineer.

“The human body interacts with a vehicle in ways that many don’t realize. There are countless potential factors that can happen instantly in a crash. As GM safety engineers, we’re tasked with analyzing those threats and designing systems to help keep people protected,” she said.

“This project, like many others that I’m involved in, touched me personally,” she says. “As a mother of small children, I know that anything with the potential to keep one’s family safe is always on a parent’s mind.”

Reinforcing Good Habits

Though vehicles and roadways are safer than ever, inexperience is a primary reason teens are at greater risk behind the wheel. In fact, crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and a teen’s first two years of driving are the most dangerous.

Image_1



“We saw that there is a lot of opportunity to improve teen driver safety and we wanted to create a technology that could assist parents of young drivers in discussing and reinforcing safe driving habits,” she said.

Teen Driver is a virtual backseat driver, with no parental nagging required. Just like an academic report card, the technology gives parents and teens updates on driving performance and areas for improvement. Parents can set limits on speed and audio levels, along with speed alerts to nudge teens to slow down.

Image_2


The Teen Driver in-vehicle report card may keep track of the following, depending on the vehicle:

  • Distance driven.
  • Maximum speed reached.
  • Overspeed warnings issued.
  • Stability control events.
  • Antilock braking events.
  • Traction control activations.
  • Wide-open throttle events.
  • Forward Collision Alerts, if equipped.
  • Forward Automatic Braking events, if equipped.
  • Tailgating Alerts, if equipped.

Safety Now and Beyond

Teen Driver tech is available across our brands. Parents have praised it, saying it gives them peace of mind. According to a 2016 Harris Poll study commissioned by Chevrolet, parents said they were more concerned about their teen driving unsupervised than about academic performance or drug and alcohol use. Nearly 80 percent also said they’d feel more comfortable if they could monitor their teens’ driving habits.

Image_3

 

“To know that someone’s life may have been saved or changed for the better by something you had a hand in creating, that’s a reward incapable of being measured,” says Beebe.