Following high-profile incidents involving autonomous vehicle technologies, a new report from AAA’s multiyear tracking study indicates that consumer trust in these vehicles has quickly eroded.
Today, nearly three-quarters (73%) of American drivers report they would be too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, up significantly from 63% in late 2017. Additionally, two-thirds (63%) of U.S. adults report they would actually feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle while walking or riding a bicycle.
"Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety," said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. "Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles."
Surprisingly, AAA’s latest survey found that millennials — the group that has been the quickest to embrace automated vehicle technologies — were the most impacted by these incidents. The percentage of millennial drivers too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle has jumped from 49% to 64% since late 2017, representing the largest increase of any generation surveyed.
"While autonomous vehicles are being tested, there’s always a chance that they will fail or encounter a situation that challenges even the most advanced system," said Megan Foster, AAA’s director of federal affairs. "To ease fears, there must be safeguards in place to protect vehicle occupants and the motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians with whom they share the road."