Survey Finds Most Consumers Believe Connected Cars Will Make Driving Safer | Edmunds

Survey Finds Most Consumers Believe Connected Cars Will Make Driving Safer

Just the Facts:
  • According to a recent survey, 80 percent of consumers believe that connected cars will make driving safer.
  • The survey of 1,600 consumers from three countries was conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
  • The survey also found that the majority of respondents are concerned about security and privacy related to connected-car technology.

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — According to a recent survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 80 percent of consumers believe that connected cars will make driving safer.

Connected-car technology makes it possible for vehicles to send wireless signals to each other, sharing such information as their location, speed, direction of travel, braking and loss of stability. It also allows vehicles to receive data from the highway infrastructure about accidents, construction and other traffic tie-ups.

In the early versions of the technology, drivers receive alerts about potential road hazards ahead. With more advanced iterations, the vehicle might automatically apply brakes or steer around obstacles.

To find out what consumers think, UMTRI researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak put together an online questionnaire, which was completed by nearly 1,600 respondents from the U.S., England and Australia. The survey asked about familiarity with connected vehicles, as well as concerns and perceived benefits of the technology.

Perhaps surprisingly, just 27 percent of Americans, 22 percent of Australians and 17 percent of Britons said they were familiar with the concept of connected vehicles. Nevertheless, 62 percent of the participants expressed a positive opinion of the technology.

Eighty percent of respondents from all three countries feel that safety is the most important benefit of connectivity — more than mobility or convenience — and 86 percent look forward to having the technology in their own vehicles.

Around 75 percent of those surveyed feel connected vehicles will reduce the number and severity of crashes, improve emergency response times and increase fuel economy, with 60 percent citing other benefits, including reduced traffic congestion, shorter travel times and lower emissions.

On the other hand, 30 percent of survey participants said they are "very concerned" about data privacy and security breaches from hackers, while another 37 percent are "moderately concerned" and 25 percent are "slightly concerned."

The concerns are not unfounded. In a recent article published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, technology specialist Paul Weissler wrote: "With no real security systems in place, connected cars face malware attacks from cloud or roadside networks, including V2V (vehicle to vehicle), OBD [on-board diagnostics] and unprotected onboard networks."

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation report published this month, the security challenges of connected vehicles include message validity (ensuring that the incoming signal is from an authorized vehicle), security entity (specifying what action will be taken as a result of a signal) and overall network integrity (defining the network and protecting it from malicious attacks).

And then there are the privacy issues. The DOT report notes that any system of connectivity must ensure that vehicles cannot be tracked or identified without prior authorization. The agency says it has done initial privacy analysis and "will have privacy experts do a comprehensive review of any final system proposed for implementation" at the federal level.

Edmunds says: This new survey seems to indicate that the majority of consumers feel the benefits of the connected car outweigh its risks.

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