“Parental” Car Controls…

It’s being touted as “parental control” technology – a way for worried parents to keep tabs on their teenaged drivers. But what’s good for the proverbial goose (the 17-year-old) is just as good for the gander (his parents).  And if recent precedents – and trends – are any guide, will be exactly that.

People never seem to see this coming.

Well, here it comes… again.

Both Ford and GM are in the process of  fitting their latest models with technology that enables Mom or and Dad to track son and daughter’s movements, as well as how they move – and how fast they’re allowed to move. The car not only narcs them out, it supervises them in real time, limiting how fast they can drive, whether they’ve been wearing their saaaaaaaaafety belts and even how Battlefield America: T... John W. Whitehead Best Price: $10.95 Buy New $18.80 (as of 10:15 EST - Details) loud they’re allowed to crank the radio (Ford’s MyKey system).

GM’s system (TeenDriver) even spits out telemetry – a downloadable log of how fast the car was driven, how “aggressively” the driver accelerated (and braked) for the delectation (and, one assumes, discipline) of the parental units.

Even better, it detects – and record and transmits – “events” such as the engagement of the (increasingly de facto standard equipment in more and more new cars) “active” safety systems, such as Forward Collision Warning. Which – if you’ve had the chance to drive a new car so equipped – is so myopically and old lady-ish programmed that it become hysterical (flashing lights, loud buzzers) if you do not begin to brake frantically at least one astronomical unit prior to actually coming within physical range of (as an example) a car ahead of you turning off the road. Who will be long gone and off the road by the time you get there.

I am not exaggerating. Try a new car so equipped yourself and see.

There is more such good stuff on deck, too.

Some of it is already here – and may be in the car you’ve got right now.

How about Lane Departure Warning? Which hits you with annoying (and yep, potentially distracting) beeps whenever the system thinks you’ve wandered into the opposing lane, via cameras that – supposedly – read and recognize the yellow and white lines painted on the road. Problem is, these systems aren’t as smart as advertised – and will beep just as annoyingly (and distractingly) when you make a perfectly legal pass or turn-off the road, which often entails entails crossing over a painted line.

I’ve also discovered that many new cars – which all have “drive by wire” controls which put the engine and transmission completely under the sway of the computer rather than you – will force-engage Park or Neutral if you try backing the car up with the door open (as to rely on your own eyes rather than the fish-eyed view of the now-mandatory back-up camera. Instead of being able to park right up against the garage door, you are forced to park a foot away.

Because safety.

Who out there can see the dots? Or maybe connect them?

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