Posted by Dale Buss on March 24, 2011 04:00 PM
Few of the students will ever get to own a Mercedes-Benz, but the German luxury auto maker has decided to launch a teen-driving school in the United States. It’s an interesting brand extension at a time when the top segment of the U.S. market has gotten more competitive than ever.
Maybe Mercedes-Benz executives just figure their predecessors are the ones that first foisted cars on the world over a century ago, so they’ve got a responsibility to make driving safer. Certainly, they’re looking at the success they’ve already had with a similar school in the UK.
But in announcing its plans this week to brings its Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy to the US, the company says it feels a sense of responsibility for helping to reduce the high incidence of inattentive driving and accidents among American teenagers and knocked the unimproved state of “driver’s ed.”
“Despite the dramatic changes in vehicles, highways, and the driving environment over the past 60 years, driver education remains relatively unchanged in the U.S.,” stated Alexander Hobbach, senior manager at Daimler AG.
“The skills required to simply get a license do not fully prepare young drivers to meet the demands of the road. Mercedes-Benz recognizes this issue and as a result is creating an educational program for the U.S. that is based on the best teaching methods and tools available.”
Although the company didn’t say specifically how it plans to address the issue, surely the rising problem of texting teens and distracted driving — which has been targeted by federal regulators and conceded by other auto makers — has to be high on the list for “German re-engineering” of how teenagers drive.
Mercedes-Benz provided few details for its plans or methods for the US school, although its press release does note that the instructional framework will include the notion of “restricted driving privileges once a novice driver starts driving solo.”
That sort of thing isn’t exactly likely to endear American teens to the Mercedes-Benz program, although it could be welcomed by their parents paying for the program. Then again, maybe that’s the point.