Could driverless cars save us from ourselves?

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New research suggests there is a technology arms race as many drivers struggle to disconnect from smart devices undermining advances in safety

Continental Tyres

With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) underway in Las Vegas, it has been revealed drivers are hopeful advances being made in automation can overcome their own failings – like checking emails or social media at the wheel.

A study of 1,000 UK motorists by Continental Tyres, revealed a third think the illegal use of mobile phones at the wheel has reduced road safety while another 26% think the safety benefits delivered by automotive technology are cancelled out by people using smart phones.

Continental Tyres’ safety expert, Mark Griffiths, said: “Our latest research has identified a real tension between the present and future technologies and our use of mobile devices.

“There is a concerning race between the technologies – we are creating solutions to make us safer, yet motorists are jeopardising road safety by struggling to be disconnected.”

The new research also found there is significant scepticism when it comes to promises being made with 88% of those surveyed more likely to now believe that manufacturers will exaggerate claims about what might be achieved with autonomous technology.

Motorists are also 11% more concerned about autonomous vehicles being hacked compared to when the last study happened in 2015. Four in 10 motorists find this a worry about driverless cars.

Mark Griffiths continued: “When considering what automotive systems should be included in our vehicles to improve safety, the behaviour of motorists has to be taken into account. Though, it raises questions on whether motorists should be responsible for their own bad behaviour or the extent of which technology needs to save us from ourselves.

“We believe that motorists need to always think of safety, regardless of what fantastic technological solutions on the market there may be to help. Any safety device, feature or fitting should complement the safe and responsible behaviour of the driver, though the context of consumer behaviour is vital.

“The study also shows a clear need for manufacturers to educate consumers on the benefits of automotive technology to help them to realise the potential for safety that evidently exists as well as help to build trust.”

The findings come after research unveiled in December for Continental found that two thirds of car users said they would back Government action to block certain functions of drivers’ mobile phones when the vehicle is moving.

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