Seven In 10 Americans Afraid To Ride In Fully-Autonomous Cars

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about how everyone will use self-driving cars in the not-so-distant future, but a new study doesn’t paint such a rosy picture.

According to the latest survey from the American Automobile Association (AAA), 71 percent of people questioned are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles. While there’s no significant change from last year’s survey (73 percent), the AAA found more people are wary of driverless cars than in 2017, when 63 percent of respondents felt the same.

The survey was conducted by telephone (both landline and cell phone) between January 10-13 and included a total of 1,008 interviews of adults, 18 years of age or older, accurately representing the total continental U.S. population, with a four percent margin of error.

According to the AAA, the significant surge in self-driving car mistrust among the U.S. public may have something to do with several high-profile automated vehicle incidents that happened over the past two years. So how can Americans be made to trust autonomous technology more?

The AAA believes this can be done by bridging the gap between the perception of automated vehicle technology and the reality of how it actually works in today’s cars. “Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for consumers and open the door for greater acceptance,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations.

Waymo One self-driving taxi early riders

More specifically, AAA believes that interacting with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking “significantly improves consumer comfort level.” The survey revealed that drivers who have one of these four ADAS technologies are about 68 percent more likely to trust these features than those who don’t.

They also found that Americans are receptive to the idea of automated vehicle technology in more limited applications. For example, 53 percent are comfortable with low-speed, short distance people movers found at airports or theme parks (thus not in public traffic), while 44 percent are comfortable with fully self-driving vehicles for food or package delivery. However, only 19 percent of Americans remain comfortable with the idea once the passengers are their loved ones.

Maybe the majority is not as willing to hand over the reigns to automated systems just yet, as automakers and tech giants would have us believe. At least not until the technology proves itself.

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  • Compare that to how many are afraid to ride in taxis, uber, public transportation, etc.

    • LeStori

      We use many things that we know are potentially dangerous as there is little choice. Taxis, Uber, Public Transport are but a few. However when it comes to fully autonomous cars there is still a choice until there isn’t. This does not mean these are anymore dangerous than drivng yourself. It is all about feeling like you are in control.

      • Loquacious Borborygmus

        Exactly. People think they can reason with an illogical Uber driver. They know they can’t with a “logical” computer.

  • Alexandro Pietro

    Don´t be afraid! Its only the program of State of reduction of the population you almost won´t feell nothing!!!

    • Six_Tymes

      hahaha! oh wait…

  • blunt-o

    8 in 10 Americans believe in a God-the-sky. Does that make them right?

    Testing autonomous cars will yield probability based risk data for accident/lethal outcomes for driver/passenger/other drivers…. Then you make a decision based on the evidence before you including other social/economic considerations, not on how you happen to feel about robots today.

    • Six_Tymes

      does that make them wrong?

      • blunt-o

        yes. Absolutely. Evidence for biblical god is non existent. End of story.

  • FordMopar

    This is the proof that the companies need to look into and stop whatever they’re working on and walk away from the project!! They will lose a lot of money once they sell these. Count me in. I won’t go in one.

    • It’s people like you that slow down the advancement of human kind. Flying is the safest mean of transport in the world, yet it’s mostly automated.

      • FordMopar

        It will only work if every single driver gives up driving and their vehicles and replace with autonomous cars at same time. Can’t mix it with non-autonomous cars. Try convincing all drivers.

        • There are statistics for that. It doesn’t matter what you believe. Autonomous cars are already better at driving than the average person and that will keep on improving every year. They are programmed to interact with human drivers as well as pedestrians, animals and various road conditions. It would be about time to stop believing in fairy tales and trust science…

  • tkindred

    People will get use to it and accept it. It is the future and I personally look forward to it. A bet a a greater percentage of people were afraid of flying when commercial flights first began than now. Crashes and fatalities have the potential to drop significantly, their will be reduced headway between cars, and commuters stuck in soul crushing traffic can be productive or just relax as they travel to and from work. Finally, long road trips across boring scenery will be less demanding mentally and physically.

  • Craig

    “Try it! And you’ll see. Nothing to worry about!” REALLY? Sometimes – it’s rational to fear something. We’re a LONG WAY OFF before autonomous cars can be considered SAFE.

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