A new study has revealed that more than half of businesses are concerned about their company drivers being distracted by in-car technology and the introduction of connected cars to their fleet.
According to new research by RAC Business which looked at employers’ attitudes towards increasing connectivity in business vehicles, some 51% were concerned about their drivers being distracted, rising to 55% for small businesses (100 employees or below).
Although it is widely recognised that Wi-Fi enabled vehicles will lead to increased safety features, at the same time there are worries that access to the internet and email through inbuilt screens on the dashboard, may also lead to increased levels of driver distraction.
More than one in three firms (35%) also said they were worried about driver data being hacked following the introduction of connected cars to their fleet, and almost one-in-five (18%) were concerned that more autonomy through connected services would take too much responsibility away from the individual driver.
The RAC research, which interviewed 500 firms during May 2016 and was published last month, also investigated what UK firms expect in terms of the benefits of connected car technology. According to the research, 83% think it will be used to diagnose engine faults, 72% believe connected technology will increase fuel efficiency and 67% think it will help to reduce wear and tear.
However, RAC Telematics managing director Nick Walker said: “Connected vehicle technology represents an exciting new chapter in motoring, but we feel businesses need to be clear about what it means for their vehicles, both in terms of safety and security, but also for vehicle management.
“While connected vehicles will benefit from being able to communicate with each other and with the environment around them to make driving safer, it may not necessarily be the case that it will deliver real insight on engine performance statistics and diagnostics. Fleet managers require consistent data from their fleet to be able to fully manage downtime and risk.”
The findings were in alignment with those in the RAC Telematics Report 2016 which was published earlier in the month and found that telematics take-up had almost doubled in the last 12 months.
Businesses which say they use telematics cite benefits such as lower fuel costs (55%), fewer accidents (43%) and a reduction in maintenance costs (31%) among the top reasons for introducing telematics to their fleets.
The report also looked ahead to what businesses want to see from the technology in the future, such as greater integration with other motoring services, including breakdown and accident management.
With the increased focus on the connected car, businesses were also expecting telematics technology to enable more integration with other motoring services.
And half of those surveyed said they wanted direct reporting of faults from the telematics device to their fleet manager, so they know as soon as possible when there is a problem with a vehicle.
Meanwhile, a new report from Business Insider UK, says the connected car is already on the market and generating significant revenue for car makers and technology companies.
Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of connected cars on the road, says the report. And as internet integration becomes more commonplace, the car as we know it will be transformed.
Over the next 5-10 years, this internet integration is expected to change the car ownership model, create a new platform for consumers to access content, lead to fully autonomous vehicles and revolutionise the automotive industry.
The market position of the car today is similar to where the smartphone was in 2010, says the report — it has just taken off and is ready to explode.
The report, from BI Intelligence, examines the market size for connected cars, carmakers’ benefits and connection strategies, market leaders, consumer demand and more.
It estimates there will be over 380 million connected cars on the road globally by 2021, and says that car makers are connecting the vehicles they sell because the connection offers clear business opportunities.
The report says that technology companies will play a major role in the future of the automotive market and says the big question is whether tech companies will eventually manufacture cars.
It also says that fully autonomous cars are only a few years away. Technological, regulatory, and consumer adoption hurdles still remain, but there have been many strides towards a car that can drive itself from point A to point B with little to no human interaction, says the report.