In the United States, people are now quite receptive to the idea of having features on their cars to alert or warn them of a situation where they may be at risk – provided that the driver remains in control of the vehicle.
US drivers are extremely interested in vehicle features designed to assist them or alert them to hazards, according to an online survey commissioned by the Ford Motor Company and carried out by Penn Schoen Berland, a global market research firm. In fact 90% of the survey respondents said they were in favour of such features if they would improve safety. This positive attitude clearly owes a lot to the fact that people have nowadays become used to calling on help and assistance solutions in their daily lives, via smartphone or tablet. If we are to believe the report’s findings, behaviour is changing and even those people who describe themselves as safe drivers now appear to be more aware of their limits and keen to obtain some assistance. Close to 50% admitted to getting behind the wheel while tired or said they knew someone who has driven in a fatigued state.
Letting the vehicle take control at need...
On the practical side, nearly 6 out of 10 of those polled said that many accidents occur because of blind spots. In fact, a majority of survey respondents stated that they would be happy to let the vehicle take over in potentially dangerous situations. Nine out of ten expressed interest in technology that would automatically slow the vehicle if it spotted a risk of collision ahead. Eight out of ten would not be averse to a system to alert them if they became drowsy and would keep the car in its lane on the road if it began to wander off line. In the same vein, two thirds showed interest in technology which could provide cross-traffic alerts, thus helping to overcome blind spot hazards. However, the report underlines the general finding that people are not keen on any systems that would take control away from the driver, so the features must not be too intrusive.
...without surrendering it entirely
Explained Randy Visintainer, director of research and innovation at Ford: “We’re not replacing the driver. We’re assisting drivers so they can maintain control of their vehicles.” In fact, out on the fringes of driver-aid features, there is certainly room for improvement on some entirely human habits! Some 83% of those surveyed admitted to having driven when feeling under par, and 75% to eating or drinking while at the wheel. The reader should note however that while the survey findings may well be genuine, they should still be taken for what they are: results provided by an automaker which is about to launch a new car - the new Ford Fusion - which incorporates a whole range of driver-assistance features.