More than a third (41%) of drivers surveyed in a new study have turned off features in their car designed to keep them safe. Most drivers said they had switched off life-saving vehicle technology because they find it annoying, and many said they didn’t think it would make them safer, according to the research by Brake and AXA UK.

  • 41% of drivers surveyed have turned off safety features in their car such as lane-keeping assistance and reversing cameras or sensors
  • Drivers say they switch off life-saving vehicle technology because they find it annoying
  • 47% of male drivers have switched off safety features in their car compared with 35% of women
  • Only 36% of survey respondents know for certain what safety features their car has
  • 82% of drivers say the safety rating is important when buying a new vehicle.

The study also found that, although the majority (82%) of drivers surveyed consider the safety rating to be an important factor when choosing a new car, only 36% know for certain what safety features their car has.

The research focused on a range of safety features that have been mandatory for all new vehicles in Europe since July 2022, including intelligent speed assistance, automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance. Drivers were asked about safety features in their own car, whether they ever switch them off, and, if so, why. Almost half (46%) of the survey respondents said they prioritise safety features when buying a new car, yet 41% said they had switched off at least one safety feature, mostly because they find it annoying.

The report – Vehicle safety systems and the future of driving – released today (14 December 2023) by Brake and AXA UK, highlights a worrying lack of knowledge about the latest vehicle technology, which has the potential to prevent crashes and save thousands of lives if introduced in all new vehicles [1].

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Brake and AXA UK are challenging the government to embed safety as the primary factor in all decisions made about road travel in its long-awaited Road Safety Strategic Framework, underpinned with robust legislation mandating assistive driving technology in all new vehicles, in line with Europe.

They are also calling for a new public awareness and education campaign to help people understand the safety benefits of technology that is already available, and for vehicle sellers and manufacturers to take responsibility for educating people when they purchase vehicles. In 2022, 1,766 people were killed on UK roads – a 10% increase on the previous year – and almost 29,000 were seriously injured – up by 8% since 2021. Human error is estimated to be at least one of the causes in most crashes.

Ross Moorlock, interim CEO at Brake, said: “Technology is changing, the world is changing, so it is vital that safety is the primary factor in all decision-making about the future of road travel. It is clear that people want themselves, their families and their communities to be safe on the roads.

“It is also clear that advanced vehicle technology can play a significant role in improving road safety and prevent a great number of families and communities from needless suffering. We urge the Government to look at the evidence, listen to the overwhelming call for safety, and follow Europe’s lead by making these safety features mandatory for all new vehicles in Britain.

“We also call on Government to publish its long-awaited Road Safety Strategic Framework and ensure that safety is at the heart of every decision made about the future of travel on our roads.”

 It is vital that safety is the primary factor in all decision-making about the future of road travel. It is clear that people want themselves, their families and their communities to be safe on the roads. Ross Moorlock, interim CEO, Brake

Nick Reed, founder of Reed Mobility, said: “The research undertaken by Brake and AXA UK is vital in building our understanding of vehicle safety systems, how they work, and which features are the most desirable. This can inform regulators, system designers, automotive marketing and driver training in developing approaches that maximise the use – and therefore the benefit – of these safety technologies. In doing so, it positively supports progress towards a vision in which no-one is killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

The report also recommends that safety is at the heart of new self-driving legislation within the Automated Vehicles Bill, which is to be brought in during 2024.

AXA UK strongly supports innovation in self-driving technology, which it believes has the potential to improve road safety.

AXA UK’s Commercial CEO Jon Walker said: “As a leading motor insurer, road safety is incredibly important to us and we believe technology has the potential to significantly reduce collisions and make our roads safer. It is therefore worrying to see so many people switching off features on their cars that are designed to keep them safe. In other European countries, these features are mandatory so we urge the Government to put safety at the heart of its roads policy and ensure the public fully understands the benefits this technology can offer.”