Almost a third of drivers write down driving directions, reports Mintel

Nov 22, 2013, 09:38 ET from Mintel

CHICAGO, Nov. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the country gears up for a busy travel season with Americans crowding the roads to be with loved ones, it's likely that many will need some help navigating to a friend or relatives' for Thanksgiving dinner. And while too many drivers still use their phones behind the wheel, new research from Mintel reveals that 31% of drivers still print out or write down their directions when driving somewhere new compared to 25% who say they use their phone.


Since more than half of US drivers (57%) say using their cell phone while driving is distracting, public opinion clearly shows that there is a desire among drivers for alternatives that make communicating while in the car safer. More than one-third (36%) of respondents are interested in steering wheel mounted controls, one way in which drivers concerned about the distraction of cell phones in cars can help mitigate this issue.

"Those who haven't shopped for a new car in the past 5 years may be surprised to find out that a technological coup has taken place on the vehicle dash. Gone are tactile controls and, in their stead, many automakers are now offering touchscreens with interactive controls that allow for much of the same functionality that one would find on a smartphone or tablet computer," says Colin Bird, automotive analyst at Mintel. "These advances come at the right time as drivers are looking for ways to reduce the distracting nature of the mobile phone, while still having the convenience of their mobile devices, on hand."

Just more than one-third of Mintel respondents (34%) say they plan on purchasing a new car in the next two years and 19% in the next 12 months. Some 42% of respondents planning to purchase a car in the next year said they were very interested in a touchscreen, 40% said they are very interested in Bluetooth audio streaming, and 33% are interested in telemetry systems, such as OnStar. There's also interest from 24% of drivers for more automated cars, such as cars that automatically steer and brake or park themselves.

"However, there are skeptics out there who are worried all this technology might be too difficult to use or might just be something else in the car that needs repairs or replacement," adds Colin Bird.

Indeed, nearly one-in-five Mintel respondents (18%) worry about potential software bugs in infotainment or navigation systems found on modern cars, 13% say they don't fully understand how to use some of the controls found in their vehicle's audio/entertainment system, and 10% believe multimedia/infotainment systems like MyFord Touch or Toyota Entune on modern vehicles are too complicated.

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