Americans are skeptical about safety when it comes to vehicles with self-driving features.

Americans are skeptical about safety when it comes to vehicles with self-driving features.


Some 76% of Americans say they feel less safe driving or riding in cars with self-driving features, according to new survey findings from Policygenius.

Self-driving cars — and those with sophisticated self-driving features — are getting a good deal of attention presently. Much of that focus is on negative news such as the numerous safety recalls Tesla has issued as well as government safety agency investigations into specific Tesla crashes.

So it’s no surprise that Americans remain somewhat wary about safety when it comes to self-driving vehicles. The Policygenius survey findings clearly indicate hesitancy on the part of U.S. consumers to embrace self-driving vehicles.

Not only are Americans cautious about actually driving them, but a majority wants to steer clear of them altogether. For example, nearly two-thirds — 73% — report feeling less safe knowing others on the road have cars with self-driving features.

The concerns are not unfounded. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a report on accidents caused by Tesla vehicles with “Autopilot” — the car manufacturer’s standard self-driving feature that can steer, accelerate, and brake, while still requiring the driver’s full attention. 

Moreover, Americans are thinking about the consequences that can come from self-driving collisions. For example, the survey asked, “In your opinion, if a car crashes while self-driving features are in control, who should be held responsible, the driver or the car manufacturer?” Responses were split, with 50% saying the driver and 50% saying the car manufacturer.

And, 62% of survey respondents believe insurance should cost more for cars with self-driving features.

A key finding of the survey concerns what drivers understand a self-driving car to be, and whether self-driving vehicles still demand the driver to fully focus on the road.

Three-quarters of Americans (76%) understand that a true “self-driving car” doesn’t exist in today’s car market, and one-third (33%) of Americans say even a car with “full self-driving capability” would require constant attention. 

However, alarmingly, some 24% of people believe they can currently buy a car designed to let them take their eyes off the road while driving. And because of the way Tesla markets self-driving cars as “full self-driving” — even though your complete attention is still always required — the company is currently being accused of false advertising by the state of California, note the survey authors.

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