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British Drivers choose High Tech Gadgets over Life-Saving In-car Equipment

April 20, 2016

New research carried out by Whatcar.com has found that vehicle owners are four times more likely to opt for media and connectivity upgrades to their vehicle over safety features. Connectivity gadgets are chosen much more regularly than safety upgrades when vehicles are being specified and it once again brings the issues around in-car technology into discussion.

The research has found that whilst the nation appears to be concerned about road safety, with other surveys suggesting as much, they are more interested in paying out for gadget-style upgrades such as Bluetooth capability, digital radio and satellite navigation systems when choosing a new car. Other technology which could be chosen includes lane-keeping assistance and blind spot monitoring but this is chosen far less often.

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Of all the safety upgrade features out there, automated emergency breaking is the most popular system selected but the research found that less than 20% of drivers choose it and 6 in 10 new car buyers will choose to have no additional safety features for their vehicle.

The contrasts starkly with the 64% who pay out for satellite navigation, 50% who upgrade to have DAB radio in their vehicle and this is particularly interesting as the installation of DAB costs about the same as it would to install an automated emergency breaking system.

As well as gadgets being popular, the research found that comfort and the style of the vehicle is more important to drivers than safety when it comes to additional vehicle upgrades. 60% of new car buyers opted for heated seat and 42% opted for alloy wheels.

The most important things for people buying new cars seem to be communication and comfort and things such as climate control and heated seats are also further up the list than any of the safety features available.

Speaking on behalf of Whatcar.com, editorial director Jim Holder commented: “It’s beneficial to have creature comforts in your car, especially if you spend a lot of time driving. But it’s quite shocking to think that features which could save peoples’ lives are taking a back seat to having the right sound quality on the radio, especially when those items often cost around the same as the safety options.”

Some safety features which are currently optional when buying a new car may soon be made compulsory if work carried out by the government and European bodies such as the European Transport Safety Council but it would be good if there was a change in attitude which saw new drivers valuing their safety as highly as their comfort.

Photo credit: By TTTNIS (Japanese Wikipedia) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons