For Most Americans, Self-Driving Cars are a Non-Starter

Only one in ten motorists trust a vehicle to drive itself, according to AAA’s new survey

BOISE – (March 5, 2020) – Once the stuff of science fiction movies, self-driving or autonomous vehicle (AV) technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years.  While full vehicle automation remains a distant goal, AAA says that many drivers are already leery of the prospect of riding in a car that doesn’t come equipped with a steering wheel, accelerator, and brake pedal.

In AAA’s latest research, just one in ten drivers say they would trust a vehicle to drive itself while they are in it.  Another 28 percent are unsure how they feel about the technology.

“Down the road, autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide mobility solutions for underserved groups like the blind and elderly, reduce traffic congestion in some of our busiest cities, and save lives,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “Even so, we need to gain a full understanding of these systems before completely relying on them in the future.”

Today, the most advanced vehicles on the market are equipped with Level 2 Automation (on a scale of 0 to 5).  These vehicles have certain automated functions, like acceleration and steering, but the driver must remain engaged and ready to take over at any time.

 

AAA asked survey respondents what kind of information would help them feel more comfortable with the concept of autonomous vehicles:

  • Six out of ten would like to see more information from trusted sources about who will be legally responsible for crashes involving autonomous vehicles
  • Half of all drivers want strong laws and oversight to ensure that self-driving vehicles are safe
  • Half of all drivers want to know how vulnerable autonomous vehicles are to hacks
  • About 44 percent say that they would like clear, easy-to-understand information about how self-driving cars work

 

“Some of the options that would help people feel safer in a self-driving car, like the ability to take over control or the presence of a human backup driver if something goes wrong, are probably not practical in the long run, as human error can further complicate the equation,” Conde said.  “But nearly half of drivers also said that they would feel safer knowing that the autonomous vehicle has passed rigorous safety tests, or after seeing a demonstration prior to getting into the car.  As with any vehicle technology, automakers and organizations like AAA need to keep working together to help the public make informed safety decisions.”