The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Americans Remain Wary of Self-Driving Cars

March 07, 2017

Image courtesy of AAA.
Image courtesy of AAA.

Most American drivers want autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to have fears about fully self-driving cars, according to a new report from AAA.

Despite predictions that autonomous vehicles will be much safer and slash crash rates, three-quarters of U.S. drivers are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, survey results indicated. A total of 19% would trust the vehicle, and 4% are unsure.

The prospect of sharing the road with self-driving cars also stirs trepidation. A total of 54% of drivers would feel less safe, while 34% said it wouldn’t make a different. Only 10% reported that they’d actually feel safer sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.

Nonetheless, 59% of Americans would welcome autonomous features — such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and self-parking technology — in their next vehicle, according to the report. This dichotomy suggests that American drivers are ready to embrace autonomous vehicle technology, but they’re not yet ready to give up full control, according to AAA.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver — and they’re correct,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

AAA survey results also suggest that age and gender can be factors influencing a driver’s willingness to relinquish vehicle control. Though 78% of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, some demographic groups are generally more afraid than others. Baby Boomers (85%) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73%) and Generation X (75%) drivers. Additionally, women (85%) are more likely to be afraid than men (69%).

Millennials (70%) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54%) and Baby Boomers (51%).

Additionally, U.S. drivers desire uniformity in how the autonomous systems operate, regardless of the automaker. Eight in 10 (81%) drivers believe the systems should all work the same way.

The survey was conducted Jan. 5-8 of this year. A total of 1,012 adults participated. 

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