Survey: Three in four Americans remain afraid of fully self-driving vehicles

Survey: Three in four Americans remain afraid of fully self-driving vehicles
(Source: AAA Northwest Ohio/Facebook)

ATLANTA (AAA) - A year after a number of high-profile automated vehicle incidents, American attitudes toward fully self-driving cars have not rebounded. AAA’s annual automated vehicle survey found that 71-percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles, indicating that overall sentiment has not yet returned to what it was prior to these incidents occurring (63-percent).

Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman for AAA - The Auto Club Group, said: “Consumers should educate themselves concerning automated vehicle technology to fully understand the pros and cons. Technology will continue to shape the future of transportation, but motorists still have the responsibility to remain engaged.”

Experience seems to play a key role in impacting how drivers feel about automated vehicle technology. Many cars on the road today are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which are considered the building blocks for fully self-driving vehicles. AAA’s recent survey revealed that regular interaction with ADAS components like lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking significantly improves consumer comfort level. On average, drivers who have one of these four ADAS technologies are about 68-percent more likely to trust these features than drivers who don’t have them.

AAA found that Americans are receptive to the idea of automated vehicle technology in more limited applications. A little more than half (53-percent) are comfortable with low-speed, short distance forms of transportation like people movers found at airports or theme parks while 44 percent are comfortable with fully self-driving vehicles for delivery of food or packages. However, once the passengers become more personal, in particular, transporting their loved ones, only one in five remain comfortable.

“Allowing technology to control your vehicle can be intimidating,” continued Waiters, “but with further testing, safety measures and pilot programs I believe Americans will see the positives of self-driving vehicles.”

Currently, more than half of Americans (55-percent) think that by 2029, most cars will have the ability to drive themselves; however, this timeline may be overly optimistic given the number of vehicles already on the road today. Those who are skeptical that fully self-driving cars will arrive that soon, cite reasons such as lack of trust, not wanting to give up driving, the technology won’t be ready and that road conditions will not be good enough to support the technology.

While experts agree that a fully self-driving fleet is still decades away, it is likely that more highly automated vehicles will be on the roads in the coming years.

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