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Self-driving cars stuck in neutral on road to acceptance

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Mon, Mar 9th 2020 07:00 am
The City of Buffalo's Future of Mobility conference. (Image courtesy of AAA)
The City of Buffalo's Future of Mobility conference. (Image courtesy of AAA)

AAA finds only 12% of drivers would feel safe riding in a car that drives itself

By AAA of Western and Central New York

A new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals only one in 10 drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. Even more Americans – 28% – don’t know how they feel about the technology, signaling that consumers are stuck in neutral on the road to accepting self-driving cars. AAA believes consumer sentiment of automated vehicles will be driven by tangible information on key issues and, equally important, quality education and experience.

Consumers told AAA they have a desire to see more news stories or public information on key issues surrounding self-driving vehicles like safety and liability:

•Six in 10 (57%) Americans said they would like to have a clear understanding of who will be legally responsible in the event of a crash with a self-driving vehicle.

•Half (51%) are interested about laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.

•Half (49%) want to know how vulnerable they will be to hackers.

“Consumers have made it clear what it will take to overcome their doubts – consistent and transparent information – which will help make them feel safer about the idea of riding in a self-driving car,” said Greg Brannon, AAA director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “AAA’s automated vehicle survey tell us when people have the opportunity to take back control or even build their understanding of how this technology works, they are much more likely to embrace it.”

Americans specifically voiced their opinion on what would make them feel safer about self-driving cars. Seven in 10 (72%) U.S. adults would feel safer riding in a self-driving car if they had the ability to take over control if something goes wrong. A similar proportion (69%) would feel safer if there was a human backup driver. Half (47%) would feel safer knowing the self-driving car has passed rigorous testing and inspections. Four in 10 (42%) would feel safer after seeing or experiencing a demonstration prior to getting into a self-driving car.

“Knowing how people truly feel about self-driving cars will help the industry to identify the steps needed to move consumers towards greater acceptance,” Brannon said.

Today, there are semiautomated vehicles on the road. However, a fully automated fleet is still decades away. AAA conducts research like this study and others to help inform and encourage the industry, media and policymakers to find ways to help consumers connect better with advanced vehicle technology.

Methodology: Due to a change in methodology in 2020, this year’s survey results are not directly comparable to results from prior years. This survey was conducted Jan. 17-19, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; others were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,301 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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