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Report Says American Drivers Conflicted About Self-Driving Cars

Highway Safety News | March 7th, 2017

A new report from AAA reveals that most U.S. drivers want autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but still fear the idea of a fully self-driving car.

Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be more safe, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers still report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car (unchanged from AAA’s 2016 survey) and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles.

“The race is on toward self-driving cars but consumers are proceeding with caution, as well they should,” says Jana Tidwell, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “AAA is urging the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure that American drivers are fully prepared for the transition.”

While the majority are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the latest survey also found that the majority (59%) of Americans are keen to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. This marked contrast suggests that American drivers are ready to embrace autonomous technology, but are not yet ready to give up full control.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver – and they’re correct,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

Pennsylvania Autonomous Vehicle Survey

In Pennsylvania, drivers also feel conflicted about autonomous technology – though a separate AAA statewide survey found that 47 percent believe they will be routinely riding in a self-driving vehicle within 10 years.

Beyond the findings of the national survey regarding safety concerns, more than 85 percent of Pennsylvania drivers surveyed expressed concern about the security of data shared by autonomous vehicles.

And, if Pennsylvania is planning to do any autonomous vehicle testing, more than 80 percent of those surveyed think that local and state governments should inform the public about when and where that testing will occur.