In the U.S., the month of April brings us Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and with it numerous conversations about how we behave in our cars.

Ever-evolving connected vehicle technology can turn your car into a mobile hotspot, allowing you to stream music and movies (in the back seat, of course) and get real-time traffic updates. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) help drivers eliminate errors with features such as warnings or alerts, or even features that automatically control braking or steering to avoid an accident.

Having asked consumers about ADAS and usage-based insurance (UBI) programs designed to help consumers improve driving and lower their premiums, we know that most consumers have done so “accidentally,” because the car they bought included the feature be default. Our research indicates only 15% of the general car-purchasing population specifically sought out cars with ADAS features.

The good news is, whether they chose these capabilities or not, most people who end up with cars that include ADAS and/or connectivity say they enjoy these features. Those who didn’t seek out these features start recognizing their benefits shortly after purchase. Those who actively sought them out consider themselves to be early adopters and are generally more open to technological innovations.

It could be true that the early adopter of ADAS might look a lot like the early adopters of UBI, but perhaps not surprisingly, the more engaged consumers are in either ADAS or connectivity, the more favorable their opinions of UBI.

Among New Car Buyers who are ADAS owners versus non-ADAS owners, distracted driving is a concern. 22% of ADAS owners consider a drawback of the technology is being distracting while driving. Slightly higher, 31% of non-ADAS owners are concerned about distracted driving due to the technology. Similarly, 27% of owners and 31% of non-ADAS owners consider the technology being annoying a drawback, too.

This modern technology brings up several questions – how do today’s ADAS features impact driving now and how will they in the future? Do we think drivers will get lazier? More distracted?  How many drivers end up simply switching off these beneficial features because they find them too annoying or distracting?

The answer? We don’t know yet, but we’re studying the data now so that insurers and consumers can better understand what impacts ADAS has on driving behavior and ultimately their insurance premiums and total cost of ownership. Stay tuned.

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