Car owners highly impressed with driverless features

Navigation systems are one of the few tech features that consumers aren't enjoying all that much, according to a new poll from J.D. Power.

Even though 100% hands-free driverless technology exists, it may be awhile before we're all letting the on-board computer take the wheel. But in the meantime, auto owners are enjoying the driver-assist features that they have available, more so than most other safety features, according to the results of a new survey.

J.D. Power and Associates recently released its annual APEAL Study, short for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout. Polling over 80,000 Americans who have purchased 2016 model year vehicles, the analysis asked respondents about some of the interior accouterments that their automobile had and whether they liked them. At the head of the class in this year's APEAL Study were blind-spot monitoring, low speed collision avoidance. With roughly 40% of respondents having blind spot detection, APEAL scores were considerably higher for them than those without the technology, averaging 821 to 787, respectively. The same was true for the 30% of owners with collision avoidance, at 828 versus 790.

Several states have increased speed limits

It ought to go without saying, but speed is a causal factor in most accidents on the roads. In fact, over the past 20 years where permitted state highway speeds limits have risen, 33,000 people were killed in automotive collisions, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. In six states, drivers are allowed to drive at 80 miles per hour, mainly on roads where traffic volume is high and turns minimal.

However, when motorists are driving at lower speeds – usually between 30 and 40 miles per hour – low-speed collision avoidance systems prevent drivers from being involved in serious accidents with brake assist that initiates automatically.

"Technology-enabled safety features help drivers feel more comfortable and confident while driving their vehicles," explained Renee Stephens, J.D. Power's Vice President of its Automotive Quality division. "These features are also 'gateway technologies' to autonomous driving capabilities, so the continued level of consumer interest in them will be a critical metric to watch as the industry evolves toward including more automation in new vehicles."

Car buyers highly satisfied with their purchases

As technology progresses and vehicles have increasingly taken advantage, satisfaction has improved among owners. In fact, in the past decade, all-new vehicles scored 29 points higher on the APEAL index compared to their segment average among older models, the report found.

At the same time, though, there's still room for improvement, as car owners aren't wild about all state-of-the-art equipment. This is especially true for navigation systems. Of the features that respondents in the APEAL study least liked, two of them were related to GPS technology, citing complicated functionality in particular.

Limited understanding as to how interior components work is what spawned the creation of Developed by the National Safety Council, the website serves as an online tool that anyone can visit to figure out technologies they're unfamiliar with, such as curve speed warning, hill start assist, pedestrian detection, adaptive headlight, and rear cross traffic alerts. According to experts from the University of Iowa, new-car owners who don't investigate what systems their car has within 90 days of buying are unlikely to ever use them.

If you've bought a new car in the past year or so, check out the website so you can take full advantage of what safety advantages your car offers.