Three out of four new-car dealers could accurately identify critical safety features aimed at making new cars safer for teen drivers, but only after most were prompted by shoppers to identify those features—and most of their information was vague. That's according to a study released last week by the IIHS that followed a similar study last year that found that while most new Ford owners knew about their cars' teen-focused safety features, only about 1 in 3 reported using it.
“Vehicle monitoring systems can improve the behavior of teen drivers and reassure their parents,” the study's author, Rebecca Weast, said in a statement. “Dealers could make this a bigger selling point with parents shopping for their new drivers.”
The survey was conducted at dealerships near Rockville, Maryland, and included four automakers with teen safety features: Ford, Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai. Researchers canvassed 40 salespeople for the study (10 from each automaker) posing as parents of a teen driver. Researchers scored the salespeople based on their ability to bring up the safety features during negotiations, in four escalating stages.
At the first stage, the researchers would only mention that they were shopping for their teenage son's first vehicle. At the second stage, researchers said they were most concerned with the car's safety. At the third stage, researchers mentioned that they had seen a TV ad specifically mentioning teen-safety features. And at the fourth stage, researchers specifically mentioned the specific teen-focused safety features.
According to researchers, 30 of the 40 salespeople brought up the teen safety features during negotiations, and 26 mentioned the features by name before stage four. Most salespeople mentioned those features at stage three, and only three salespeople mentioned those features at stage one.
Hyundai salespeople most often discussed their car's teen-safety features, and Chevy salespeople mentioned the most features. Ford salespeople mentioned the fewest features. All of the salespeople reported that they had not received special training for the teen safety features.
The study concluded that while most salespeople could mention those safety systems with some prompt, most of the information they provided was vague and unclear.
"Salespeople are a key source of information about a vehicle’s specific and relevant safety features, and parents without at least some vague preexisting knowledge about the systems or features that could be available on a vehicle of interest are not likely to leave a dealership with a clear idea of all available features that could aid their efforts to keep their teen drivers safe," the researchers wrote.