We Don't Trust Self-Driving Cars

AAA reports most U.S. drivers are afraid of fully autonomous cars.

Most U.S. drivers are afraid of fully autonomous cars, even though most are interested in having autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, AAA reported March 7. Its report said despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient, and more convenient than those driven by human beings, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report they are afraid to ride in a self-driving car -- only 10 percent reported they would feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles, AAA's Erin Stepp, director of external association communications, reported.

AAA supports the gradual, safe introduction of autonomous technologies to ensure that American drivers are informed, prepared, and comfortable with this new era in mobility.

"A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. "However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle."

The report is based on a 2017 survey. A 2016 AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and the new survey found that fear has not changed. Yet 59 percent indicated they want to have autonomous features in their next vehicle.

"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," Brannon said. "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."

Stepp reported that the survey found:

  • While 54 percent of U.S. drivers feel less safe about sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, 34 percent feel it would not make a difference and 10 percent say they would feel safer.
  • Women (58 percent) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49 percent), and Baby Boomers (60 percent) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56 percent) or Millennials (41 percent)

The new survey showed 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers, she added.

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