But they show interest in closed-circuit ‘people mover’ and delivery services


BOISE – (March 14, 2019) – Sorry, KITT and Bumblebee – according to AAA’s latest research, the majority of Americans want to keep doing their own driving, at least for now.

Seven in ten U.S. drivers say that they would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, similar to results from a survey that AAA conducted following a series of high-profile accidents involving autonomous vehicles last year.

“When people have trusted the technology to do things that it was never designed to do, it has led to serious, and sometimes fatal, consequences,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “What we’re seeing in public opinion is what AAA has been saying all along – for now, there is no acceptable replacement for human drivers who have their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

As part of AAA’s recent survey, respondents acknowledged the benefits of self-driving technology in certain applications, with 53 percent in favor of ‘people mover’ systems in theme parks, airports, and other closed-loop systems, and 44 percent supporting autonomous vehicle deployment for the delivery of food or packages.  Just 19 percent would be willing to let a self-driving car transport their children.

“The adoption of autonomous vehicles is going to continue on an incremental basis as people become more familiar with different aspects of the technology,” Conde said.  Certain autonomous systems are already widely available, but admittedly, the entire puzzle isn’t complete yet.”

Ownership of vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) has steadily increased in recent years, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assistance, and Self-Parking Technology adding safety and convenience for many drivers.  According to AAA’s research, Lane Keeping Assistance is the most trusted of these systems (54 percent), and the least trusted is Self-Parking Technology (39 percent).

A slight majority of U.S. drivers (55 percent) believe that by 2029, most cars will have the ability to drive themselves.  Those who disagreed tend to feel that people still won’t trust fully self-driving cars (53 percent), won’t want to give up driving (52 percent), or that the technology won’t be ready (34 percent).

“Autonomous vehicle technology is rated from Level 0 to Level 5, and the technology being tested today is mostly Level 2,” Conde said.  “Self-driving cars also require advanced signage, lane striping, and fiber-optic networks to help them make course corrections along the way.  With the huge funding shortfall just to maintain our current transportation infrastructure, both nationally and here in Idaho, it’s clear that we have a long way to go.”

Conde pointed out that the Gem State currently faces an estimated $162 million annual shortfall just to keep up with current maintenance needs.  As one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Idaho would need an additional $200 or $300 million per year to fund much-needed expansion.

“AAA is pleased to serve on the state Autonomous and Connected Vehicle committee,” Conde said.  “As we plan for the future, we’ll need to work with various stakeholders to find fair funding solutions that can support Idaho’s continued growth.”