The latest poll from PEMCO Mutual Insurance finds that despite the steady proliferation of new vehicle safety features and technology, more than half of Northwest residents think drivers today actually need to be more skilled behind the wheel than they needed to be 10 years ago.
There’s no debating that vehicle safety technology – such as backup cameras, blind-spot protection and lane departure warning – are designed to aid drivers and keep those inside and outside of the vehicle safe. However, this month’s PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll found that while 9 out of 10 residents (93%) say those features are at least somewhat helpful, more than half of respondents (58%) think that mastering the skills necessary to drive a vehicle today is harder than it was a decade ago.
“Even with the latest safety features, it seems that this poll is telling us that being a defensive driver is more important than ever. Rising populations mean more cars are on the road, and technology like cell phones can both help and hinder – the upshot is that today’s realities require all of us to be on alert behind the wheel,” said Derek Wing, PEMCO Insurance spokesperson.
The PEMCO poll went on to find that of drivers who have at least one newer safety feature in their vehicle, two-thirds (69%) say they rely on them while driving. However, even more – 78% – say that they’re very confident they could drive just as well without them.
That confidence could explain a certain amount of skepticism shared by drivers when it comes to trust in the features intended to keep them safe. In fact, a new study from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) on automated lane-centering systems found that current systems designed to keep vehicles from drifting out of their lane don’t work well enough to inspire trust in the drivers operating them.
On average, IIHS found that drivers were mostly neutral about whether automation improved the overall driving experience, partly because drivers didn’t feel that the systems drove like they do when they’re in control.
Northwest drivers seem to agree. According to the PEMCO poll, respondents count lane departure warning systems among the least helpful safety features – just 5% would consider it a car’s most helpful safety feature. Instead, a majority of respondents said that the backup camera and blind-spot protection are among the top – 32% and 29%, respectively, consider those the most valuable vehicle safety features.