More Distrust of Self-Driving Autonomous Cars After Deaths

Consumers continue to fear self-driving car technology. Consumer Watchdog’s survey that showed why many consumers don’t want self-driving cars, a CarGurus’ survey showed that today’s car owners have expressed overall concern about having them on the roads.

Following high-profile incidents involving autonomous vehicle technologies, a new report from AAA’s multi-year tracking study indicates that consumer trust in these vehicles has quickly eroded. Today, three-quarters (73 percent) of American drivers report they would be too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, up significantly from 63 percent in late 2017. Additionally, two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. adults report they would actually feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle while walking or riding a bicycle.

“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

Sixty-three percent of U.S. drivers would feel less safe sharing the road with fully self-driving cars while walking or riding a bike.

One-quarter (26%) feel it makes no difference, while 9 percent would feel safer and 2 percent are unsure.

Women (70%) are more likely to feel less safe than men (55%).

Baby Boomer (71%) and Generation X (68%) drivers are more likely to feel less safe than Millennial drivers (48%).

Slightly more than half (55%) of U.S. drivers want semi-autonomous vehicle technology in the next vehicle they buy or lease.

Will this set-back in consumer attitude affect the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology?
Any incident is an opportunity to learn and make improvements in safety. Autonomous technology holds the promise to make our roadways safer, but the industry will need to execute testing in the safest manner possible and ensure the motoring public is comfortable with the approach.

“While autonomous vehicles are being tested, there’s always a chance that they will fail or encounter a situation that challenges even the most advanced system,” said Megan Foster, AAA’s director of Federal Affairs. “To ease fears, there must be safeguards in place to protect vehicle occupants and the motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians with whom they share the road.”

“There are sometimes dozens of different marketing names for today’s safety systems,” continued Brannon. “Learning how to operate a vehicle equipped with semi-autonomous technology is challenging enough without having to decipher the equipment list and corresponding level of autonomy.”

To help educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the ongoing, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies.