Kansas City auto show brings in new cars and new technology

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- New cars and new technology are all on display at the Kansas City Auto Show's Autofest. It opened Wednesday at Bartle Hall in the convention center.

Many of the cars have special features, and that includes one that helps parents encourage safe driving habits for their teens.

"The body style for the most part, but I look at a lot of the safety features on it," said one parent, Marlo Gardener.

When it comes to buying a car -- people are drawn to different features. But when it comes to new drivers -- many parents are concerned about one thing: safety.

"They want to give their teens that new little bit of freedom, but they're also really worried. These are their babies," said Jennifer Ecclestone, the Manager of Regional Communications For GM.

Ecclestone said the new Chevrolet Malibu built here in Kansas City and launched in 2016 has special safety features, like the teen driver setting.

"It's the only vehicle that we have that actually has that, it's a brand new application for teen drivers and their parents,"  Ecclestone said. "It doesn't really limit anything you can do in the car other than it keeps the volume set at a certain level. It can't exceed that."

It doesn't keep teens from doing something; it's simply an alert system to notify parents.

"This gives them that little bit of control, but it still lets that teen do what they want to do. Their friends aren't going to know it's on in their car," Ecclestone added.

The system provides a report card for the parents after each drive.

"These four are indicators that perhaps the teen's not really paying as much attention as they're supposed to," Ecclestone said as she pointed to the report card list.

Some parents say this tool might minimize distractions and help their kids to focus on the road.

"I think that would cut down on a lot of the young teenagers getting themselves into car accidents," Gardener added.

Gardener said when kids know their parents can see what they're up to, they might be more inclined to pay more attention.

"It will actually slow the young drivers down, and make them think," said Gardener.

Ecclestone said many parents have shown interest, and the idea is to keep everyone safe.

"For parents it's just that one extra little bit of peace of mind that as you have millennial teens getting into these cars that are constantly attached to their phones," added Ecclestone.