Irish drivers say they want new safety tech, but not WiFi and self-driving cars

Survey finds safety improving technology is desired above more lauded tecnhological advances

Irish drivers are keen for a range of new technology in their cars, including night vision, car tracking and pedestrian detection, but they’re yet to warm to the idea of driver-less cars.

A survey of AA members preferences for in-car technology has found that safety features rank highest on Irish drivers’ wish-lists, but manufacturers face an uphill struggle in selling autonomous driving to the public.

Just 26% of people said they would like to see an autonomous driving function in their own car, while 36% said they are either unsure or don’t want it in their car.

The age breakdown for preferences on driver-less cars was not split on age or location lines – the general sentiment broadly stood firm across all age groups and all parts of Ireland.

The reluctance, or disinterest, in adopting driver-less cars should be a concern for car makers, says Conor Faughan, director of Consumer Affairs at the AA.

“Manufacturers clearly have their work cut out for them if they are to undo what appears to be collective scepticism,” he said.

“It should be disconcerting for them though, having spent billions on research and development with the technology even slated to revive rural businesses in Ireland.

“This is slowly emerging as a socio-cultural obstacle, as opposed to a policy one,” he added.

New safety features in cars did however prove to be grabbing drivers’ attention.

Night vision with pedestrian detection is ranked as the most wanted addition to cars, with 91% of all respondents saying they’d like to see it in their own car. The technology involves thermographic images enabling the driver to see further while driving in dark conditions.

This was uniform across all age groups, with the exception of the 46-55 age bracket, whose top preference was automatic high-beam control. Over all age groups high-beam control was the second most sought after add on – with 83% wanting to see it in their own vehicle.

Following behind were vehicle tracking (76%), remote vehicle shutdown (74%), parental control (64%), finger-print unlocking (56%) and automatic parking (47%).

While there is an appetite for advancements, much of the recently introduced new in-car tech seems to be falling short of becoming a staple for drivers.

Motorists admitted they’re rarely, if ever, using add-ons like in-car WiFi (just 9% using daily), Satellite Navigation (18% daily) and cruise control (22% daily).

The survey was based on 4,566 responses via AA Membership poll during November 2015