Research finds 41% of drivers are switching off vital safety features because they find them annoying

14 December 2023

Posted in Surveys and reports

  • 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

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 research by the road safety charity Brake and AXA UK.

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’ – published today (14 December 2023) by Brake and AXA UK, highlights a worrying lack of knowledge about the latest vehicle technology. This technology has the potential to prevent crashes and save thousands of lives if introduced in all new vehicles.1

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. This should be 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 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.

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 significantly improve road safety as it will eliminate human error. Government figures show this is a factor in 85% of crashes.

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.

Jon Walker, CEO at AXA UK Commercial
Headshot of Jon Walker, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Commercial

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.

Ross Moorlock, interim CEO at Brake

1It has been estimated that if the full package of measures was fully implemented in Britain, it could prevent more than 1,700 road deaths and 15,000 serious injuries over 16 years, and save up to £7 billion in health costs.