The march towards automated, driverless vehicles continues forward at a swift pace. However, we’re not living in a world of robot cars yet, so auto manufacturers are adding more and more safety features than previously thought possible. The result of this is car salesmen are becoming the teachers of these safety technologies. For many, this can lead to some issues as misinformation can spread like wildfire. In an MIT study of some of the car dealerships around the Boston area, a mere 6 of the 17 salespeople tested gave “thorough” explanations of how the new safety features operated in the vehicles they were selling. The lack of proper training may be to blame as a Ford representative told the group conducting the study that the company only trains retailers that do a high enough volume of business. Regardless of the cause, the results are worrisome as some of the salespeople gave information that could have endangered the driver or others on the road.
Features such as pedestrian detection, assistive braking, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control may give drivers a false sense of security. For both drivers and those selling the new models, understanding the limitations of the safety feature may save lives down the road. Researchers were surprised by the gaps in knowledge between those who could explain the safety features and those who simply could not. For consumers, it is important to do your research before arriving at the dealership. This includes reading not only what the manufacturer has to say about the vehicle, but reviews from reputable sources to give you the whole picture regarding the motor vehicle and all the features it has. While this may be alarming, it is important to remember the scope of the study was simply the Boston area, and only a small slice of the Boston auto market at that.