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.
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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% of Americans believe cars are safer today, but just 29% 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% of respondents even indicated they were very or somewhat familiar with in-car social networking, only recently released in certain car models– a number that increased to 40% 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%) of respondents were very or somewhat familiar with electronic stability control, one of the most significant safety advancements in recent years, which helps improve steering and prevent rollover accidents. Almost one-third (31%) 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%) said they would prefer to drive a car with state-of-the-art technology upgrades. However, where they want to invest their hard-earned money suggests that people prefer glamour over safety. When asked which features they wanted in their next car, more people opted for convenience features such as GPS (63%) 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% and provides a 23% reduction in the probability of fatal crashes. Even with this proven effectiveness, just one-third (34%) of respondents said they would pay extra for the feature, with men expressing a greater willingness than women (41% 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% of respondents say having this feature in their car makes them feel safer, while 64% say the feature in cars around them makes them feel safer.

Rear-view camera: 59% of respondents say having this feature in their car makes them feel safer, while 54% say the feature in cars around them makes them feel safer.

Electronic stability control: 53% of respondents say having this feature in their car makes them feel safer, while 54% 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."