The technology allowing in-car access to the world wide web is drawing mixed responses from American drivers, according to the results of a recent interactive opinion poll. The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, indicates that more than 75 percent of respondents (more than 2,6000 people) think the technology provides a dangerous distraction from the demands of operating a motor vehicle.
Automakers, however, have issued statements touting the safety benefits of linking a smart phone to the connectivity technology. A hands free connectivity option integrated into the vehicle is less distracting and dangerous, auto industry experts reason, than holding a the communication device and entering text based commands while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Drivers who can issue voice commands to answer a phone or select music are better able to focus on the responsibilities of controlling an automobile, according to a statement released by representatives from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an automotive trade group that includes a dozen carmakers including General Motors, Toyota and Ford.
New wireless connectivity features available in late model vehicles allow drivers to transform their cars into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots allowing internet access and communication with navigation and roadside assistance services via voice commands and in-dash touch screens, and new software installed in many vehicles will allow drivers to run smart phone style apps offering them hands free control of their in-car media players and climate control systems while making restaurant reservations and even conducting internet searches using voice commands.
According to the Harris Interactive poll results, more than half of the drivers surveyed (55 percent) consider this technology an unnecessary innovation, and more than 3 out of 5 drivers polled expressed the concern that this technology could infringe on personal privacy by providing too many details about motorist’s driving habits and destinations to outside parties, and more than 2 out of 5 respondents on average worried that insurance companies in possession of this information might use it to determine policy rates.
Motorists’ fear of the potential dangers of the new technology, the poll suggests, directly conflicts with their enjoyment of the convenience and options offered by them. Though more than 3 out of 5 respondents indicated that the technology has become too distracting, nearly as many respondents reported higher driving satisfaction as a result of the integrated connectivity options. More than half of the drivers polled reported feeling safer behind the wheel because of the new technology. Automakers, meanwhile, continue to partner with electronics manufacturers and software companies to offer increasingly high-tech options to consumers.