Drivers Ask for Safe Connectivity
What’s most important when buying a new car? That’s the question automakers are asking themselves as technology advances and allows for more connectivity and other features inside the vehicle. With options available for safety, security, infotainment, navigation, and communications, it can be hard to know what’s most important to the consumer.
During the past year, automakers have widely turned their focus to safety. New connected systems stress hands-free elements and their ability to avoid potential collisions. The debate around distracted driving has led to a stronger focus on safe connectivity behind the wheel.
Research shows drivers want safety features. A recent survey commissioned by Ford, www.ford.com, and conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, www.psbresearch.com, found nearly nine in 10 drivers are interested in alert and assist technologies. These types of systems help drivers by sensing potentially dangerous situations, such as a car in the driver’s blind spot, or a vehicle crossing the center line.
The survey also found that drivers are aware of their shortcomings, and are looking for technology to assist them. Nearly 50% of drivers said they or someone they know has fallen asleep while driving, and nearly six in 10 blame blind spots for accidents or near accidents.
The interest in these types of features took priority over technology for luxury or convenience, according to the survey. Automakers and developers of in-vehicle technology are taking these concerns to heart and focusing on safety. For instance, the CCC (Car Connectivity Consortium), www.carconnectivity.org, has created MirrorLink, a technology standard for controlling a nearby smartphone from the steering wheel or via dashboard buttons and screens. MirrorLink wants to make smartphone use safer by using voice commands to access the system, as well as a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) to replicate the smartphone display on the car’s navigation screen.
Ford’s survey indicated that more than half of drivers surveyed admitted to using a handheld mobile phone while behind the wheel. Technologies such as MirrorLink aim to cut back on handheld mobile use, as does Ford’s own SYNC in-vehicle connectivity system. According to Ford, 50% of new Fusion buyers are choosing enhanced voice control—in the form of MyFord Touch—when purchasing.
Drivers have shown they desire safer connectivity, and automakers are responding. The next generation of cars will not only be the most connected, but perhaps also the safest.