Think In-Car Connectivity Is Too Risky? You're Not Alone

August 2, 2012

The connected car is here to stay. From roadside assistance services like OnStar to entertainment apps like Pandora, we've come to rely heavily on connectivity to keep us safe and happy when we're on the road.

But that doesn't mean that drivers aren't worried about being plugged in. In fact, a new study shows that the vast majority of car owners think in-car connectivity is pretty dangerous.

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive, which polled 2,634 adults across America in May of this year. According to a press release, Harris asked those folks questions about connected services, including "mobile device connection to the Internet, navigation systems, emergency response systems, and driving habit monitoring devices".

Not surprisingly, many drivers were worried about the distractions caused by such technology: in all, 76% of respondents found it to be potentially dangerous.

Privacy was also a major concern, with 62% of survey participants expressing worry about letting companies know where they were and how they drove. (Interestingly, though, only 41% were concerned that their insurance rates would go up as a result of this technology.)

And yet, consumers seem to want it both ways: a full 58% said that connected technologies make driving more enjoyable, and 57% said that they feel safer with that technology in their vehicle.

In some cases, older drivers were more worried about new technology than younger ones. For example, 49% of Baby Boomers and 48% of matures (i.e. those 67 and older) admitted that connected tech made driving more pleasant, while a whopping 69% of Millennials said the same.

But the differences weren't always so stark. while 78% of Baby Boomers agreed that in-car connectivity is potentially distracting and dangerous, a noteworthy 77% of Gen X and 71% of Millennials agreed with them.

Our take

In-car connectivity and the services it makes possible are in awkward stage: we can see the promise they hold, but we haven't yet figured out how to reconcile their possibilities with out own capabilities (or shortcomings) as drivers.

Over time, we expect to see these gadgets and devices implemented in more consistent, safe ways (aided and abetted by new safety technology like lane-assistance and collision-avoidance). Until that time comes, though, we're naturally going to be a bit wary of them.

What's your take on in-car tech? What features do you enjoy and find safe? Which ones cause you concern? Let us know in the comments below.

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