Study: Some Car Safety Tech Is Annoying

Cadillac Dashboard
Credit: Cadillac
There’s no doubt that new driver assistance features are making cars safer. But that doesn’t mean drivers don’t find some of them annoying and overbearing at the same time. At least that’s the case according to the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI). The study finds that some drivers are put off by the overbearing alerts that come with new safety technology, especially lane-keeping and centering systems. J.D. Power researchers say some drivers find them so annoying they are disabling the systems entirely and say they’ll avoid them on future vehicle purchases. It’s an area of concern, they say, for automakers.

"Automakers are spending lots of money on advanced technology development, but the constant alerts can confuse and frustrate drivers," said Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power. "The technology can't come across as a nagging parent; no one wants to be constantly told they aren't driving correctly."

Lane-keeping and centering systems

  • On average, 23% of customers complain the alerts are annoying or bothersome. This ranges from just 8% for one domestic brand to more than 30% for a couple of import brands.
  • For these owners, 61% sometimes disable the system, compared with just 21% of those who don't consider the alerts annoying or bothersome.
  • Owners wanting the feature on their next vehicle ranges from 63% for those who consider the alerts annoying or bothersome to 91% for those who do not.

Kolodge also points out the significant differences across brands.

"Some brands are succeeding at making their safety technology effective without being overbearing. Some are good at one aspect but weaker at another, and some are struggling with both. This is why one brand has 90% of its customers wanting lane-keeping/centering on their next vehicle, while another brand has just 59% of its customers saying the same thing."

Overall New Vehicle Technology Satisfaction

Overall satisfaction with new-vehicle technology ranges widely across the vehicles in the study. The best-performing vehicle in the study is the Kia Stinger, scoring 834 (on a 1,000-point scale). The overall average is 781, with the lowest-scoring model achieving just 709.

The study, in its fourth year, measures owners' experiences, usage and interaction with 38 driver-centric vehicle technologies at 90 days of ownership. The study provides clarity to auto manufacturers, insurance carriers, telecommunications companies and consumer electronic companies regarding ways to minimize the gap between driver experience and
technology feature execution.
The major technology categories analyzed in the study are entertainment and connectivity; collision protection; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; smartphone mirroring; and navigation. Here’s how the six categories rank:

  1. Collision protection has the highest score (813)
  2. Smartphone mirroring (789) is second
  3. Comfort and convenience (787)
  4. Entertainment and connectivity (782)
  5. Driving assistance (768)
  6. Navigation (744)

Following are additional findings:

  • Apple and Google taking over? More than half (69%) of respondents say they have Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto in their vehicle. J.D Power researchers say this is starting to jeopardize future sales of the automakers' factory-installed navigation systems. More than two-thirds (68%) of owners with Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto want factory-installed navigation on their next vehicle, compared with 72% of those without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
  • Built-in apps not meeting users' expectations: The attribute for "ease of using built-in apps" is the lowest-performing attribute in the entertainment and connectivity category (7.63 on a 10-point scale). Among the 29% of owners who have discontinued the use of built-in apps, 46% say they "do not need it" and 18% say they "have another device that performs the function better." Apps on external devices are a competitive threat, so it's imperative for automakers to ensure intuitiveness and ease of use.
  • High satisfaction drives recommendation and repurchase intent: Owner satisfaction with their vehicle technology experience strongly determines whether they will recommend or repurchase the brand. When overall satisfaction is greater than 900, 75% "definitely will" repurchase the same make again and 95% "definitely will" recommend it. Automakers looking to drive loyalty need to provide a highly satisfying tech usage experience.

“Dealers remain a partner in the process of helping translate to consumers what these technologies bring to the table, but consumers still need that element of trust that systems are going to kick in when they’re supposed to,” Kolodge said. “It’s essential that the industry recognize the importance of an owner’s first experience with these lower-level automated technologies because this will help determine the future of adoption of fully automated vehicles.

Award Winners

  • Hyundai Kona and Toyota C-HR rank highest in a tie in the small segment
  • Kia Forte receives the award in the compact segment
  • Kia Stinger in the compact luxury segment
  • Chevrolet Blazer in the midsize segment
  • Porsche Cayenne in the midsize luxury segment
  • Ford Expedition in the large segment.
  • Ford Expedition, Hyundai Kona and Kia Stinger receive a segment award for a second consecutive year.

About the Study

The 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study is based on a survey of more than 20,000 owners and lessees. Awards are based on responses from more than 16,400 owners who purchased or leased a new 2019 model-year vehicle in the previous 90 days that is an all-new or redesigned model within the past three years. The study was fielded February through July 2019.
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Dennis Komes
1. I keep the Lane Keeping/Centering system turned off on my Pacifica. It is distracting beyond belief.
2.Speaking of mirrors, manufacturers should include a birds eye mirror in the outside mirrors on cars like trucks with a trailer towing package have. The current mirror system is a failure and causes collisions.
3. The problem with built in Navigation Systems is that map updating is too expensive. For the price of built -in Nav, it should include regular updates at no cost.Built in Nav should be as current as Google, Waze, etc.
Built-in Nav is much more convenient and should be easier to use. The Nav on our smart phones is more accurate and much simpler to use.
The Car Pro
Dennis, i agree with you on all your comments, although I drive cars with some great blind spot monitors, and others that are not so good. I like the system Honda uses that throws a camera view on the rearview mirror screen, it's my favorite. Thanks for weighing in.

Jerry Reynolds