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Survey Says...Two-Thirds Of Drivers Use Too Much Tech

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On: Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 5:34PM | By: Chris Weiss

Survey Says...Two-Thirds Of Drivers Use Too Much Tech

There's a growing rift in our technologically savvy society. On the one hand, you have the crowd that can't go five minutes without texting inanities to friends, surfing the Web on a tablet computer, and tapping into GPS to find out what local businesses are around and what Yelp reviewers think of them. On that same side of the aisle, you have automakers that are all too eager to appear hip and modern. On the other side, you have people that would prefer to be safe over cool and connected, people that don't believe the car should be a four-wheeled computer.

Well, if the results of a recent MetLife survey are accurate, it would appear the latter crowd is a lot stronger than the former—at least as it pertains to other drivers.

In the insurance company's poll, 63 percent of respondents said they feel that drivers rely too heavily on technology in operating vehicles. Only 29 percent reported a belief that technology makes people safer in cars, despite the fact that nearly 85 percent of respondents think that cars are safer today than 10 years ago.

Metlife Auto & Home president Bill Moore summed up the findings: "Auto manufacturers have made significant strides with regard to safety innovations over the past 10 years - but the ultimate safety feature is an alert and prepared driver. Technology advancements have greatly improved the comfort and safety of cars, but overreliance on these features can be dangerous—drivers need to remember that it's still up to them to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner."

From those results, I'd say that people aren't all that impressed with automakers attempts at making technological and social features safer by incorporating systems like voice-to-Facebook. It seems a majority of people still feel that we don't need that much technology on the road.

I'd have to agree, and so would Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Earlier this year, he said: "We've seen news stories about carmakers adding technologies in vehicles that let drivers update Facebook, surf the Web, or do any number of other things instead of driving safely. Features that pull drivers' hands, eyes and attention away from the road are distractions. Period."

Unfortunately, the study also hinted at why automakers are so eager to load up on technological features. The number of respondents familiar with technological systems greatly outweighed those familiar with safety features. Ninety percent were familiar with GPS, 77 percent with Bluetooth, and more than a quarter with still-new in-vehicle social networking features. Meanwhile, only 44 percent were familiar with brake assist, 42 percent with electronic stability control, and 28 percent with lane departure assist.

It's not entirely clear if people are familiar with technological features because they use them more or just because these tend to be more heavily marketed. However, the survey did find that people were more willing to pay for technology than safety, which seems a little hypocritical given the nearly two-thirds that believed there's too much technology on the road. It also alludes to another interesting possibility—people are worried about what others are doing with in-vehicle technology, but believe they can handle it themselves—kinda like when people know all the hazards involved with texting and driving, but believe those hazards apply only to drivers that aren't as coordinated as themselves.



dwalter | 11:07AM (Thu, Sep 29, 2011)

Voice-to-Facebook... really?

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