More than seven out of 10 U.S. motorists say they would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle compared with 63% in 2017, according to AAA's annual automated vehicle survey.
Only 19% of those surveyed said they would be comfortable with their children or loved ones traveling in a self-driving vehicle.
AAA attributes the slight rise in anxiety (to 71%) among consumers to a number of high-profile automated vehicle incidents in 2018, including one collision that resulted in the death of a pedestrian.
However, the survey findings do indicate that consumers are somewhat comfortable with autonomous vehicles being used for low-speed, short-distance purposes. For example, 53% of those surveyed said they would be comfortable with autonomous vehicles being used for "people mover systems" at airports and theme parks. When it comes to self-driving vehicles being utilized for delivery services, 44% indicated they would be comfortable.
The survey also revealed that drivers who regularly used even one component of advanced driver assistance systems — the building blocks for fully self-driving vehicles — had a greater comfort level with autonomous vehicles. Motorists who have used lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, or self-parking technology were 68% more likely to trust these features.
Finally, the survey explored the question of when AVs will be ready for prime time. More than half (55%) of respondents believe that by 2029, most cars will have the ability to drive themselves. However, AAA notes this timeline may be overly optimistic given the number of vehicles already on the road today.
The most common reasons for doubting why cars will not have the ability to drive themselves in a decade from now had to do with trust issues, people's desire to drive, and the lack of technology- or road-readiness.
For example, 53% said people will not trust fully self-driving cars even in ten years, while 52% said people won't want to give up driving themselves. Finally, 34% believed self-driving technology won't be ready 10 years from now, while 33% said the road conditions will not be good enough.