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Car Companies Add New Features To Protect Drivers From Distracted Teens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- From texting to distracted driving the Centers for Disease Control say car accidents kill six teenagers every day.

Now, car companies are adding new features to make driving safer for teens.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, one teenager had her life changed forever for a single text.

"I was a good student. I was a role model. I was like a preppy little girl in high school so I used to model," Liz Marks said.

Her life has never been the same because of distracted driving.

"The consequences of life now, after the car accident, the fact I'm blind in one eye, cannot smell, cannot hear well, bone broke in half, not tears, can't go to sleep naturally, I take meds to go to sleep," she said, "My friends were there for me at first. After a while they weren't. They got tired of me and all my problems."

"I looked up on her Facebook page, and she said, 'can anyone please hang out with me today? I don't have any friends,'" her mother Betty said.

Now, several car manufacturers want to stop the trend of distracted teen driving.

The new Chevy Malibu has many features you'd expect in a mid-size sedan, and a few you might not.

"The moment I unbuckle my seatbelt the music stops," Chevrolet's Chad Lyons explained.

It's part of a system called 'Teen Driver.' Parents can program their child's key fob so the car knows when their teenager is driving.

If the seatbelts aren't on, the radio isn't either.

"As a parent you can also limit the maximum volume that your teens can listen to music in the car," Lyons explained.

Parents can also set a maximum speed limit, teens get a warning if they surpass it.

"So basically it's told us you've exceeded the speed limit your parents set for you," he said.

Chevy is one of several car companies adding features specifically for teens.

Ford's 'My Key' has several similar settings.

Hyundai's 'Blue Link' will send parents a text if their child drives too far from home.

AAA's Robert Sinclair Jr. said the features can save lives.

"Car crashes kill approximately 2,600 teens a year and injure 130,000," he said.

In the Malibu, parents can also view a report card showing how far their child drove, the top speed, and if there were any near collisions.

"It's designed to teach teens how to develop safe habits," Lyons said.

If your car doesn't have these features, as always there's an app for that.

'Text Arrest' and 'Key 2 Safe Driving' disable text messages and emails while driving. 'Parentblocked' locks the phone when it's traveling at speeds higher than 10 miles per hour.

It was all too late for Marks.

"I ignored the warnings about texting and driving. Everyone else was doing it. I thought I was invincible, clearly I was completely wrong," she said.

Considering a quarter of teens responded to a text message once or more every time they drive, any of the programs available to help may be worth it.

Even more disturbing; 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.


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