Written By: Rebecca Morris
According to a recent Ford Motor Co. survey, 90% of all drivers hope to have some form of alert or driver assistance technologies in their car, but only 39% said they would be comfortable using a completely self-driving automobile.
The company commissioned research firm Penn Schoen Berland to conduct a survey of more than 2,500 American drivers above the age of 18 to get a better idea how they feel about driver assist and crash avoidance technology. The survey found that most drivers are in fact interested in extra assist features in their next vehicle, particularly features that can help them avoid accidents. Among these technologies, systems that helped increase driver awareness ranked the highest in consumer interest. For example, according to the firm, nearly nine out of 10 people surveyed expressed interest in auto-braking technology that can slow the car if it determined that there is an imminent collision ahead.
Consumers also showed a great deal of interest in parking aids. Two-thirds of drivers surveyed indicated that they would be interested in systems that allow the driver to help see around other vehicles while backing out of a parking space – like backup or surround cameras – or sonar systems that provide proximity warnings to objects lurking in over-the-shoulder blind spots.
According to Ford’s Group Marketing manager, Amy Marentic, basic transportation has long been the most important factor when it came to buyers in the midsize family sedan segment. However, the survey shows that as consumers become more accustomed to using electronic assistants in other areas of life, like through smartphones and other mobile technology, they’re increasingly recognizing that technology can help them cope with daily driving challenges as well.
Amazingly, 99% of all drivers surveyed believed they were “good” drivers, despite the fact that the majority also admitted to engaging in other activities besides driving while behind the wheel. Three-quarters of those surveyed admitted to eating or indulging in beverages while driving, while more than half admitted to speeding or using a cell phone. Additionally, 83% of drivers admitted that they or someone they know has gotten behind the wheel while tired. Fatigue and inattentiveness can lead to a number of problems on the road, and systems helping with these issues also ranked highly among driver wants as well. For example, 80% of drivers expressed interest in technologies that could provide an alert, or even help keep the vehicle in the proper lane, if the car and driver inadvertently drifts out of the intended lane for any reason.
But while all this technology is well and good when it comes to buying an automobile, in most cases, obtaining it comes at a steep price. Ford has cleverly used these findings as a launching point for its all-new 2013 Ford Fusion, which will offer 10 such driver aids, including lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and a rear view camera, among others. Ford joins the foray of other competitor vehicles to offer such aids, such as Nissan, Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota.