British drivers choose digital radio over safety kit

Nearly four times as many British new car buyers choose connectivity gadgets over safety upgrades when specifying their vehicle, according to WhatCar?.

whatcar Hi spec interior

New research by shows that, despite the nation’s apparent preoccupation with road safety, drivers are shelling out for items like satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth capability rather than safety systems such as lane-keeping assistance and blindspot monitoring.

Automated emergency braking (AEB) is the most popular safety system selected, but less than 20% of drivers choose it as an option. Six in 10 new car buyers will not upgrade with any safety features at all.

In contrast, 64% spend extra cash to set up sat-nav and half of all drivers upgrade to get a DAB radio – at a cost similar to the £200 estimated to install AEB.

The research also showed that comfort and styling also rank higher than safety items for new car buyers, with features like heated seats (60%) and alloy wheels (42%) being chosen in more specifications.

Jim Holder, editorial director of, said: “When it comes to talking about what’s important in a car, most people are vociferous about how vital safety is. However, it seems to be a different matter when new car buyers are sat in front of the salesman.

“British car buyers are clearly going for style over substance. It’s beneficial to have creature comforts in your car, especially if you spend a lot of time driving. But it’s quite shocking to think that features which could save peoples’ lives are taking a back seat to having the right sound quality on the radio, especially when those items often cost around the same as the safety options.”

Are Irish drivers doing any differently?