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Millennials and Generation Z people are more afraid of other motorists driving dangerously than they are of public speaking, spiders, snakes and — bizarrely — even death, according to new research out of the US by independent research company Penn Schoen Berland.

The research, conducted on behalf of the Ford Motor Company, surveyed a modest 1000 Gen-Z (16-22) and Gen Y (23-34) US residents online, between late April and early May this year.

It found that 88 per cent of respondents included other motorists driving badly as a top-tier fear, while those who felt the same about traditional public enemy number one, public speaking, numbered 75 per cent. Death (74 per cent), spiders (69 per cent) and snakes (69 per cent) followed.

The “most worrisome” driving situations among survey respondents included: snowy or icy roads (79 per cent), manoeuvring into a tight parking spot (75 per cent), backing out onto a busy street (74 per cent), monitoring blind spots (70 per cent), and “not knowing where I’m going” (69 per cent) — surely an issue killed by smartphones?

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“Younger generations are growing up with different fears than their parents or grandparents,” said vice president Penn Schoen Berland Kevin Shkolnik.

“Younger drivers are worried about distracted drivers, but they think technology isn’t just the problem, it’s also the solution, as we are seeing growing demand for driver-assistance technologies.”

Why is this notable? Because further down in the research is a statistic that suggests the growing range driver-assist technologies are more than just brochure fillers, but are instead key purchase motivators.

The research found that 65 per cent of respondents are more likely to purchase a vehicle if it has technology to help with parallel parking. Of those polled, 62 per cent want technology to detect objects in blind spots.

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And here’s where the segue to Ford comes in, because today it announced plans to migrate more driver-assist technologies across its product line-up over the next five years. In other words, more cars with rear-view camera (most Fords to have by 2020), blind-spot monitoring, semi-automated parallel parking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping alert.

“Research like this is important to Ford and other automotive brands because it informs us about the situations that cause consumers the most stress,” said Ford brand marketing manager Crystal Worthem.

“As driver distraction and safety conversations have broadened, we are seeing what technology will help customers tackle their greatest fears.”




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