U.S. Drivers Fear Tech Distraction, Embrace Tech Anyway
Threat or thrill? Both.
Three quarters of Americans fear that too much in-car connectivity, such as entertainment tech, can cause dangerous distraction, according to a survey of 2,634 U.S. adults aged 18 and older by polling firm Harris Interactive.
Yet almost 60 percent of those same people said that they feel safer having more advanced technology in cars.
That's one of several contradictions in the poll, conducted in mid-May, with results released this week.
On safety concerns, sentiment was pretty consistent across generations, with those concerned ranging from 71 percent of what Harris calls the "Echo Boomer" generation (aged 18-35) to 79 percent of "Matures" (aged 67 and older).
Another fear about tech among those surveyed is that it will allow companies to know too much about how and where they drive. Sixty-two percent have that fear (although the survey questions didn't say who those "companies" are). And 41 percent fear the information could somehow get back to their insurance carriers and cause their rates to go up.
Americans are also torn about if tech makes the ride more or less fun. Sixty-one percent agreed that they see their car as a "haven from the outside world" where they don't want to always be connected. But the same amount (58 percent) said that that entertainment and connectivity tech makes the ride more enjoyable.
That reflects a bigger dilemma in society: While most people want to have the latest tech, they also fear that it can be intrusive.
In terms of safety, one explanation for the contradiction might be the kind of technology they are talking about. The survey found that "safety technologies such as back-up cameras, blind spot warning systems and pedestrian sensors" were more popular than entertainment tech and Internet connections.
But among the latter, most prefer to bring their own tech: 24 percent of those surveyed would like the ability to dock their smartphones to access entertainment contact and get a Net connection, while only 14 percent want that technology build into the car.
Hewing somewhat to stereotypes, desire for in-car tech generally goes up as age goes down. Sixty-seven percent of Echo Boomers and 63 percent of Gen Xers (age 36 to 49) said that the presence of in-car technologies would be a factor in the car they buy, versus just 46 percent of Baby Boomers (50 to 66 years old).
But the Baby Boomers seem to be the most old-fashioned generation, as the desire for tech goes up again, to 57 percent, for the older Mature generation.