Drivers think tech in cars is dangerous

August, 2012 – In-car connectivity technology – such as mobile devices, connection to the Internet, navigation systems, emergency response systems and telematics devices – is becoming increasingly common in today’s vehicles. But they may be doing more harm than good – or so drivers think.

A recent Harris Poll found that more than three-quarters (76 percent) of U.S. car owners believe these in-car connectivity technologies are too distracting and even too dangerous to have. Further, more than half (55 percent) believe automakers have taken in-car technology too far.

Beyond fearing how connectivity technology may impede driver focus, a majority of car owners (62 percent) said they worry about how technology may interfere with their privacy, including where and how they drive. Just over two in five U.S. car owners (41 percent) believe that their insurance rates could increase because of what in-car technology reveals about their driving habits. This is more of a concern among younger drivers between 18 and 35 (46 percent) and men (46 percent).

But, while drivers fear the distraction, they appreciate some of the safety features afforded by the technology.

More than half of car owners find that in-car connectivity makes driving more enjoyable (58 percent) and makes them feel safer (57 percent) while on the road. A Harris Poll study found it’s safety technologies such as back-up cameras, blind spot warning systems and pedestrian sensors that have seen the most interest in the past year, compared to entertainment and connectivity technologies.

“The data shows that consumers generally favor the safety and entertainment they find with in-car connectivity, but they don’t want to give up their privacy by sharing detailed information about their driving habits with companies that may stand to benefit from the information,” said Mike Chadsey, Vice President, Automotive Solutions Consultant, Harris Interactive in a statement. “In addition, the fear of technology distraction seems to outweigh the other perceived benefits of having in-car connectivity options. Car makers should take note; depending on the generation of their target market, in-car connectivity can have influence on the buying decision, but too much of a good thing may just be too much. Ultimately, when it comes to marrying technology with their car, consumers want it to be both safe and in a way that they can control. Americans may be addicted to their technology but they also love the freedom represented by their automobile and are not ready to have anything interfere with their driving experience.”