Tech in Action: Toyota’s teen driver takeover

The automaker's Android app seizes a speeder's Spotify and offers up a cringeworthy replacement.

Toyota has long been a proponent of the very serious issue of road safety, but the automaker is injecting a bit of humour – and tech – into its approach across the pond.

The brand’s new “Safe & Sound” Android app, created by Saatchi & Saatchi London, is aimed at what Toyota says are often “over-confident” young drivers.

Both the young driver and parent must download the app and pair their phones. The parent then sends virtual “car keys” over to their offspring before they hit the road, activating the app’s functionality.

Once the car is on the move (over nine miles per hour), Google Maps’ API tech automatically puts the phone into “Do not disturb” mode, disabling calls, messages and social media notifications.

But what could have been a simple safety app is kicked up a notch, deterring rule breaking on the road by giving control of the in-car playlist to the driver’s parents (with both users’ Spotify accounts linked). If the app detects speeding or the youngster’s smartphone being picked up while the vehicle is in motion, their Spotify playlist is immediately stopped and replaced with their parents’ favourite jams.

Toyota cites research that suggests one in five new drivers has a collision in their first year behind the wheel, with the two main contributors being speeding and smartphones.

For a visual explainer, check out the story of Callum, whose attempts to impress his girl are quickly shut down by some epic opera and old-school-but-not-in-a-good-way pop.