Although most American drivers are ready to embrace autonomous technology in new vehicles, many are still afraid of the idea of completely self-driving cars, according to a recent study from the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The study found that despite the promises of safety, efficiency and convenience offered by autonomous vehicles, three quarters of Americans are afraid to ride in a driverless vehicle and only 10 percent would feel safer with these vehicles on the road.

This is the second year AAA has conducted the study. A comparison between the results of the two years shows that consumer sentiment regarding the safety of self-driving cars has not improved since 2016. Three quarters of drivers were afraid of self-driving vehicles then as well.

Similarly, 61 percent of American drivers in 2016 were eager to have some form of semi-autonomous technology in their next vehicle, compared to 59 percent today.
The study also found that:

  • Slightly more than half of U.S. drivers would not feel safe sharing the road with self-driving vehicles, while approximately one third say it would not make a difference in their safety and 10 percent say they would feel safer.
  • One quarter of U.S. drivers do not want autonomous features in their next vehicle, and 16 percent are unsure about the idea. Not surprisingly, millennials (70 percent) are most willing to have advanced technology in their vehicles, while Baby Boomers had the lowest number of drivers interested in the technology (51 percent).
  • 78 percent of U.S. drivers are afraid to ride in a driverless vehicle, and women are more afraid than men: 85 percent compared to 69 percent, respectively.

According to AAA, consumer’s fear of the technology could be a result of the variations in features and functionality from vehicle to vehicle.

Most newer vehicles today have some autonomous features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping technology and automatic emergency braking. However, the study found that 81 percent of drivers think these features should be similar and work consistently across all manufacturers.

Advancing Autonomous Technology

Despite consumers mixed feelings about the technology U.S. automakers are heading full-steam ahead in the race toward fully self-driving vehicles.

A strong force behind the drive to develop this technology is the continuing rise in traffic fatalities throughout the country. According to preliminary data from the National Safety Council (NSC), 2016 saw a six percent increase in fatalities compared to the previous year, accounting for approximately 40,000 deaths.

Although the exact cause of the increase remains unknown, most attribute the rise to driver error. Additional surveys by the NSC have found that most drivers are comfortable speeding, texting and driving, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. All of which significantly increase the risk for an accident.

AAA is working toward improving driver education about emerging autonomous technology and is committed to continued testing of these technologies to develop consistency throughout manufacturers.

Until the day that fully autonomous vehicles rule the road, driver error will continue to be a leading cause of accidents on the road. If you or someone you love is injured by a negligent driver, our Silver Spring car crash attorneys can help you fight for justice and compensation.