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Survey says People Want Connected Cars but Also Fear Them

April 13, 2014
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A majority of Americans, Australians and Britons believe that connected-vehicle technology will make driving safer, but most are also concerned about security and privacy.

A University of Michigan poll found that about 30 percent of nearly 1,600 online respondents in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. are "very concerned" about system and vehicle security breaches from hackers and about data privacy in tracking speed and location. Another 37 percent are "moderately concerned" about these issues and nearly a quarter are "slightly concerned."

Researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute asked respondents about their familiarity with and general opinion about connected vehicles, as well as perceived benefits and concerns with using the technology.

In addition to security and privacy fears, a majority of those surveyed expressed concern about system failure and performance, especially during bad weather, and that drivers will rely too much on the technology or will be distracted by it.

Despite concerns, about three-fourths of respondents believe that connected vehicles will reduce the number and severity of crashes, improve emergency response times and result in better fuel economy. In addition, more than 60 percent expect less traffic congestion, shorter travel times and lower vehicle emissions.

Schoettle and Sivak also found that 62 percent of the survey participants have a positive opinion about connected vehicles, while about a third are neutral. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, only 27 percent of Americans, 22 percent of Australians and 17 percent of Britons have ever heard of connected-vehicle technology, they said.

Americans tend to have a lower overall opinion of connected vehicles (57 percent positive, 7 percent negative) compared to Britons (67 percent positive, 4 percent negative) and Australians (63 percent positive, 5 percent negative). They are also more likely to be concerned about system and vehicle security and data privacy.

Among other findings:

  • More than 80 percent of respondents in all three countries indicate safety as the most important aspect of connected-vehicle technology, compared to mobility and environment.
  • Roughly 80 percent say that integrating personal communication devices with vehicle technology is at least somewhat important.
  • More than three-fourths believe that Internet connectivity in connected vehicles is important.
  • About 86 percent are interested in having connected-vehicle technology.

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