Fleet News

Drivers choose digital radio over life-saving safety kit

Nearly four times as many new car buyers choose connectivity gadgets over safety upgrades when specifying their vehicle, according to research by Whatcar.com.

Drivers are opting for items like satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth capability rather than safety systems such as lane-keeping assistance and blindspot monitoring.

Automated emergency braking (AEB) is the most popular safety system selected, but less than 20% of drivers choose it as an option. Six in 10 new car buyers will not upgrade with any safety features at all.

In contrast, 64% spend extra cash to set up sat-nav and half of all drivers upgrade to get a DAB radio – at a cost similar to the £200 estimated to install AEB.

The research also showed that comfort and styling also rank higher than safety items for new car buyers, with features like heated seats (60%) and alloy wheels (42%) being chosen in more specifications.

Jim Holder, editorial director of Whatcar.com, said: “When it comes to talking about what’s important in a car, most people are vociferous about how vital safety is. However, it seems to be a different matter when new car buyers are sat in front of the salesman.

“British car buyers are clearly going for style over substance.

“It’s beneficial to have creature comforts in your car, especially if you spend a lot of time driving. But it’s quite shocking to think that features which could save peoples’ lives are taking a back seat to having the right sound quality on the radio, especially when those items often cost around the same as the safety options.”

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  • Clifford Sherwood - 11/04/2016 11:57

    Dear Sir / Madam, Re: your article "Drivers choose digital radio over life-saving safety kit". Car manufacturers are making every effort to pump up the price of their car, the increase in options for colour trim body kits and wheels is testimony to this. Adding a black roof and wing mirrors to make your car more unique is a choice, as is upgrading the sound system or opting for sat nav. However, we expect our cars to be as safe as the manufacturer can make them, we don’t have to tick brakes, mirrors, impact zones on the options list. If the devices that make a car safe are available, they should be adopted as standard components of the car as early as possible and NOT offered as extras. The added advantage of including such safety kit on all cars is that the increased production would reduce overall costs. I would much rather that all cars be made available in basic trim but with all safety features. For example, the following items do not need to be fitted as standard:- Radio/MP3/CD Auto Wipers Auto Headlamps Adjustable Headlamps Anything but basic cloth upholstery Folding Wing Mirrors Ambient Lighting Illuminated Vanity Mirrors Electric Seats Cup Holders ….The list goes on.

    • Darren - 11/04/2016 15:44

      I completely agree with Clifford Sherwood above. People are much more likely to spend those few extra pennies on things they can enjoy like upgraded audio system, leather seats etc, rather than spend it on something they can't see and may never get any use from (case point, my own car has front drivers and passenger air bags and side air bags which have never once been used in 200,000 miles). If manufacturers feel these important safety products are a must have, then fit them all to every car at minimal extra cost or FOC and leave the customer in the safest position to spend those sacred few extra pounds on things they actually like

    • bob - 11/04/2016 15:55

      That would be my worst nightmare! Many so called safety features are just annoyances and distractions in themselves. Having some music to while away the time and keep my mind active is far more important than a silly buzzer to tell me I crossed a White line (perhaps I wanted to!) Its just another thing to switch off each time you get in. Auto wipers are a great aid to safety, so are folding wing mirrors when passing on tight roads. Cup holders? well spilling coffee in your lap won't help safety. Sat Nav is far safer than the old days of trying to balance a map on the dashboard and follow where your going! Leave drivers alone to get on with the driving in as much comfort as possible and leave all the new 'safety' toys off the car ( apart from ABS, traction control and ESC). Worst one is autonomous braking which is a sad invention that's come about from growing traffic jams and people playing with their phones due to boredom whilst slow moving. Personally if something gets in my way I prefer to try and avoid rather than the car automatically slam the brakes on and get me rear ended!

  • David Nicholls - 11/04/2016 19:05

    really??? what cars need to be "upgraded" to DAB?? surely every car has this now as for sat nav, crikey this is standard now on all mid psec cars, even BMW & Audi , the masters of the options list give it now on their cars as for the AEB, isnt this planned to be std oon all cars very soon anyway, just as ABS was made mandatory a few years ago

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