According to a new study released by MetLife, around 66 percent of those surveyed believe that drivers rely too heavily on technology while behind the wheel, and that reliance may contribute to unsafe driving. MetLife also found that drivers are more familiar with convenience tech than safety-oriented advancements.

Of those polled, 85 percent believe that cars are safer today than they used to be, and a whopping 90 percent are either very or somewhat familiar with GPS devices that can take attention from the road. In addition, 77 percent of those surveyed said that they were familiar with Bluetooth hands-free calling, despite the fact that a hands-free conversation can be just as distracting as driving while speaking on a cell phone.

In comparison, only 42 percent of those polled said they were somewhat familiar with electronic stability control while 31 percent of respondents said that they'd never heard of the system. Yes, these people are sharing the road with you. Hit the jump for a look at the full survey results.
Show full PR text
TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICANS BELIEVE DRIVERS RELY TOO HEAVILY ON TECHNOLOGY

MetLife Auto & Home® Poll Finds Americans Place Higher Value on Convenience Features Than on Safety Technology

Warwick, RI – September 6, 2011 – Has modern technology made our roadways safer? The majority of Americans believe cars are safer today than they were 10 years ago, but feel that technological innovations have failed to make people safer drivers. In fact, according to the new MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse Poll, fully 85 think technology innovations have translated into making people safer drivers, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans believe that today's drivers rely too heavily on technology features to operate their vehicles.

The survey also suggests that many people are not necessarily making wise decisions when it comes to evaluating the importance of different technology features, with Americans favoring increased convenience over driver and passenger safety. To voice your opinion, join the conversation on MetLife's Facebook page.

"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," said Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home. "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."

Technology Awareness: Are Americans too distracted by gadgets?

Although Americans clearly care about safety, the results of the survey suggest that respondents display a significantly higher level of familiarity with convenience-oriented features than with those devoted to car safety.

90% of respondents were either very or somewhat familiar with GPS devices, which can make it easier to find your destination, but can take your attention off the road.

77% of respondents were either very or somewhat familiar with Bluetooth-style accessories, which can make taking calls in your car easier, but the conversation can still be just as distracting.

27 among younger Americans (aged 18-34).

In contrast, when asked about their familiarity with more safety-oriented features – some of which have been available for several years – consistently fewer than half reported that they were very or somewhat familiar with various technologies.

Less than half (42) had never heard of it at all.

44% of respondents were very or somewhat familiar with brake assist, which applies additional brake force in the event of a sudden stop.

43% were very or somewhat familiar with forward collision warning, which alerts the driver when sensors detect an imminent front-end impact.

28% were very or somewhat familiar with the lane departure warning feature, which warns a driver that he or she is drifting out of the designated lane on a highway. Forty one percent of respondents had never even heard of the feature.

Technology Upgrades: Are Americans more willing to pay for convenience than safety?

Americans have always shown an appetite for the new and innovative, so it should come as no surprise that the majority of those polled (55) over safety features like electronic stability control (45%).

This despite research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which respectively shows that electronic stability control significantly decreases the likelihood of a single-vehicle crash by up to 59 reduction in the probability of fatal crashes. Even with this proven effectiveness, just one-third (34 vs. 27%). Although most consumers may not recognize the importance of this feature, fortunately, starting September 1, electronic stability control will be a standard feature on all new passenger cars in the U.S.

Although people are less willing to pay for safety features, they do recognize their importance. The majority of Americans do in fact feel safer when their own cars and the cars around them are equipped with the following safety technology:

Forward collision warning: 61 say the feature in cars around them makes them feel safer.

Rear-view camera: 59 say the feature in cars around them makes them feel safer.

Electronic stability control: 53 say the feature in cars around them makes them feel safer.

"The most recognized and sought-after technology features tend to be those which promote style over substance, when in reality, it's the less glamorous features like electronic stability control which make for safer vehicles," said Moore. "By increasing their understanding of the available safety features in today's vehicles, consumers can make more informed choices about which cars provide the best safeguards to help protect themselves and their families on the road."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      jbm0866
      • 3 Years Ago
      We really need to toughen up the requirements for driving in this country. It doesn't have to be as hardcore as Germany or some of the Scandinavian countries...but we are pretty 3rd world when it comes to determining who is competent to drive and who should be driven. And yes, I would be more than willing to go back and take a more stringent drivers ed course even though mine was done nearly 20 years ago..
        Making11s
        • 3 Years Ago
        @jbm0866
        I agree with this sentiment, but it's politically impossible in this country. Making it harder to get a drivers license would mean increased use of public transit, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you we don't have the infrastructure to handle it or the political will to improve that infrastructure.
          jbm0866
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Making11s
          You're right about that, and it's not just the lack of public transport either. Reduced numbers of drivers would mean less revenue for states via registration fees...and having a smaller number of drivers that are more competent would mean that law enforcement would have to be more creative in generating revenue through fines. General fender benders and traffic fatalities would go down considerably however..
          BG
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Making11s
          Even worse, you would have large numbers of incompetent drivers claim because they couldn't get to work, they need welfare, and the mess would go on and on. That is the real reason that many states don't enforce liability insurance requirements; ultimately the rest of us pay via the uninsured coverage on our insurance.
      Nathan Loiselle
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is it possible that we're not as familiar with safety technology because it's automatic? Frankly any car that is released from the factory should have stability control, traction control and any other safety system activated. So when you start the car the technology is instantly on. If we combined these technologies with a more intelligent physical design. Like a larger greenhouse so we can see out of the back better than we might actually be even safer.
        4 String
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nathan Loiselle
        Yeah! It's like automakers today think that these technologies compensate for a shoddy rear view and abundant blind spots. Oh the horror.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        4 String
        • 3 Years Ago
        Not tougher driving license test passage guidelines, but better training for youngin's. The CA DMV is a really tough place to get a license (at least where I live), but they really aren't helpful in conditioning kids to become BETTER drivers. When you think about it, the only driving schools are your parents, self study, or expensive out-of-reach private sector driving schools. It really doesn't encourage as much improvement as an institutional education would. I mean, if the parents are bad drivers themselves, how on earth would their kids learn to be better? Talk about one generation degrading from the previous. Just a downward trend.
      KAG
      • 3 Years Ago
      Think about living in a snowy area like mine and you can see the people think that just by having a SUV or 4WD there vehicles will stop normal like on dry weather. Give a Idiot a car, they will find a way to crash it.
        BG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @KAG
        And there are plenty of them out there on snowy roads who are too stupid to recognize that AWD can't defy friction and physics.
      4 String
      • 3 Years Ago
      In the world according to 4 String, all drivers taking their license exams would be required to drive a shift-stick and all would be forced to have a naked dash devoid of all mobile phones/mp3 players/things with glowing screens. More back-to-basics and visceral experience. Maybe drivers would actually pay attention to the road then.
      LUSTSTANG S-197
      • 3 Years Ago
      What else is new? I would not be totally surprised if a day comes where people will need a GPS device to tell them how to get to the grocery store, or home. Am I the only one who believes such technology is actually making people dumber?
        Susan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @LUSTSTANG S-197
        No, I think people are getting dumber steadily via uncontrolled breeding and bad training at home while they grow up. Vast numbers of contemporary parents have no common sense, so neither do the kids. These electronic crutches help them sort-of cope with a modern world.
          4 String
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Susan
          Yeah, I had a elementary school friend whose parents spoiled him/his siblings in the stereotypical American fashion. Bought 'em frickin' Pepsi machines and frickin' laser beams. They didn't turn out so great.
      stubbs
      • 3 Years Ago
      if you have an automatic transmission, you rely too much on technology
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stubbs
        If you are talking about a sports car, or sport compact, I would agree. Now, if you are talking about a luxury car, or a drag racer, an A/T is certainly more suitable in those situations.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Tolitz Rosel
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sneezing can be a distraction to driving... as is yawning, headbanging and listening to Howard Stern ... those things should also be outlawed and fined.
        Agilis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Tolitz Rosel
        Don't forget about scratching an itch and blowing your nose.
      Compujas
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like a misleading conclusion to the study. I fail to see what link there is between being "familiar with" a particular technology and "relying" on it or being "distracted" by it have to do with each other. I was familiar with GPS and bluetooth long before I had either in my cars, that doesn't mean I was distracted by it or relied on it. As for choosing convenience over safety features, almost every car comes with ESC/TCS/ABS these days without a choice (for better or worse). And as far as collision detection and lane departure warnings, neither make you safer or protect you, they merely warn you of imminent danger that you should've been paying attention to avoid in the first place. Just remember, high tech safety features does not a good (safe) driver make. I don't really care what safety features you have in your car if you're going to hit me because they don't do a damn thing for me if you're not paying attention in the first place.
      Hungry Stormtrooper
      • 3 Years Ago
      What car is this?
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, as bad as this is, it doesn't surprise me any. Just reaffrims my fears of everyone else's lack of driving ability.
    • Load More Comments