Nielsen Survey Graphic

In a study of nearly 6,000 drivers 18 years old and older, the survey firm Nielsen finds that 41% go online while driving on a regular basis. As Nielsen reports in a press release titled “The Car IS the Information Superhighway”:

Cars are big business, and as technology continues to permeate our lives, the auto industry is broadening its revenue base by tapping into consumers’ desire to stay connected from behind the wheel.

Automakers are touting various connected car features in TV ads, with something for everyone, whether they be drivers in their 20s making online dinner reservations or working mothers needing to talk hands-free, Nielsen writes. Chris Bruce writes for Autoblog that the survey found that it is not “young whippersnappers” who are the most likely ones to seek out the connected driving features. The study found that the largest group of people seeking connected options are men (58%), with 42% of them age 55 and over, and with 62% having a college degree or higher; 37% of them make more than $100,000 a year, Nielsen reports.

Best known for its TV show ratings, Nielsen found that safety is the main motivation for those opting for connected vehicle technology, writes Cameron Aubernon for The Truth About Cars. Bruce writes of an irony: “There’s no denying that new cars are becoming increasingly packed with tech that connects drivers to the internet, even if it can be distracting.”

Nielsen’s “Connected Life Report” is based on information from 5,985 respondents who say they use or are interested in one or more of the three “connected life” technologies — connected home, car, and/or wearable tech. Respondents took the self-administered survey online in late May and early June, Nielsen writes.

For the well-educated Baby-Boomer-generation men who most value the connected features, the most important ones are crash notifications, Web-enabled navigations, safety alerts, and vehicle diagnostics, Bruce writes. He speculates that this might be a case of younger drivers not being able to afford the connected features.

Among those people who say they might buy a new car in the next two years, 39% would like built-in connectivity features, Bruce writes. He opines that their reasons seem frivolous, with 60% saying they simply want to experience the systems, 58% wanting the systems to entertain passengers, and 43% thinking the systems can help them be more productive. Bruce offers a suggestion to automakers:

Nielsen’s study suggests that automakers need to make sure their tech is usable by the entire swath of the population, especially for the older drivers who are most likely to actually have the systems in their vehicles.

A commenter named Rob writes below the Autoblog article: “I like my cars well connected, to the road.” And a commenter named Vwfanatic posted the following comment to the Autoblog piece:

Driver distraction is a leading cause of accidents & serious injury; so, lets increase levels of driver distraction and see what happens! In what alternate reality is this a good idea?

As this blog reported last week, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that voice-activated technology can increase driver distraction. “AAA is asking developers to redesign in-vehicle systems so that they are no more distracting than listening to the radio or an audiobook,” we wrote.

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