Subscribe to Money & Life

Distracting technology and the high cost of convenience are we splurging on the unnecessary?

05 September 2023

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

In a world where technology is constantly evolving, our vehicles have not been left untouched by the relentless march of innovation. Today's vehicles come equipped with a dazzling array of high-tech features designed to enhance safety, convenience, and entertainment.

Yet, a recent survey by Budget Direct has brought to light a growing concern among Australian car owners – the fear that we might be sacrificing simplicity and focus on the road for the allure of modern gadgets.

The survey, which sought to explore Australian car owners’ attitudes towards in-car technology, yielded some striking results. Among the most notable findings was the revelation that three-quarters of respondents (75 per cent) believe that car technology can be distracting, casting a shadow of doubt over the extent to which our vehicles should be equipped with the latest digital innovations. Furthermore, two in three (66 per cent) respondents admitted to missing certain traditional, ‘old-school’ car features, sparking an important conversation about the true value of technology in our cars.

A spokesperson for Budget Direct underlined the gravity of the situation, stating, “While we know that mobile phone usage while driving can be as risky as drink driving, hearing from this survey that 3 in 5 drivers find their current car technology can be distracting is a concerning statistic, as multi-tasking can increase a person’s risk of a serious crash.”

The survey identified several car technologies as particularly distracting, including touchscreen interfaces, hands-free mobile phone integration, speech-to-text systems, audio-related features, automated driving technologies like lane assist, and audible warning systems. While these technologies undoubtedly offer safety benefits, their intrusive nature has led to concerns about their potential to divert drivers’ attention from the road.

The survey underscores the need for a delicate balance between incorporating technology into cars and ensuring that it does not become a hindrance. Although 64 per cent of respondents deemed car safety technology as extremely or very important, many expressed the view that modern tech can, at times, be overwhelming. This dilemma raises the question: Are we spending more on car technology than we actually want or need?

Moreover, the survey revealed a longing for ‘old-school’ car features, with nearly 66 per cent of respondents expressing a desire to turn back the clock. The top three nostalgic choices were CD players (24 per cent), mechanical controls such as buttons, dials, and handles (18 per cent), and manual transmission (17 per cent). These preferences highlight a yearning for simplicity, functionality, and a return to the tactile interfaces of yesteryears.

Beyond the nostalgia for the past and the distractions of the present, the survey also provided insight into the future expectations of Australian drivers. Affordable electric vehicles (EVs) emerged as the most eagerly anticipated future car technology at 47 per cent, followed by faster charging/longer range EVs (35 per cent) and solar-powered vehicles (29 per cent). This finding reflects a growing interest in environmentally friendly and cost-effective transportation solutions.

The survey further revealed that respondents’ attitudes towards car technology were influenced by factors such as age, gender, and income. Younger drivers were more likely to emphasise the importance of in-car tech, while men showed greater trust in it. Those with higher incomes, presumably more accustomed to new technology, also found it more important. These variations underscore the need for car manufacturers to tailor their technology offerings to meet the diverse needs, budgets and preferences of their customers.

We are committed to understanding and responding to these insights to create a safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable driving experience for all. “The results are a reminder that while technology can offer increased safety and convenience, it also needs to be implemented thoughtfully to prevent distraction,” commented a spokesperson for Budget Direct.

“Our survey also shows a surprising affinity for some old-school features, indicating that a mix of comfort, nostalgia, and simplicity could be key for drivers.”

In conclusion, the Budget Direct survey serves as a wake-up call for both consumers and car manufacturers. While cutting-edge technology can enhance our driving experience, it is crucial to strike a balance that ensures we remain focused on the road. As we navigate the road ahead, let’s not forget the value of simplicity and the charm of ‘old-school’ features that have been a part of our automotive heritage. After all, in the quest for the future, we must not lose sight of the lessons and comforts of the past.

Survey link:

You may also be interested in