New AAA report says more Americans are now willing to ride in fully self-driving cars

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According to a new study from the USA’s leading motoring organization, the AAA (American Automobile Association), the country’s drivers are now beginning to embrace the prospect of self-driving vehicles.

The AAA’s annual survey reveals that the number of US drivers that report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle has decreased, from 78% in early 2017 to 63% this year. Millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.

While riding in a fully autonomous vehicle (AV) is a futuristic concept for most, the more widespread testing of these vehicles across the USA means that sharing the road with an automated vehicle is an increasing near-term possibility.

In this situation, drivers remain wary of the self-driving technology. In the AAA’s survey, only 13% of US drivers report that they would feel safer sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while nearly half (46%) would actually feel less safe. Others say they are indifferent (37%) or unsure (4%).

Additional results from the AAA survey include:

• Women (73%) are more likely than men (52%) to be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, and more likely to feel less safe sharing the road with an AV (55% versus 36%);

• Millennials are the most trusting of AVs, with only 49% (down from 73%) reporting that they would be afraid to ride in one;

• While the majority of baby boomers (68%) still report being afraid to ride in an AV, this generation is significantly more comfortable with the idea than they were a year ago, when 85% reported being afraid;

• Although fears of self-driving vehicles appear to be easing, US drivers report high confidence in their own driving abilities. Despite the fact that more than 90% of crashes are the result of human error, 73% consider themselves better-than-average drivers.

“Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles,” observed Greg Brannon, the AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations director.

“Compared to just a year ago, we found that 20 million more US drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride. We also found that American drivers are very confident in their abilities, which may explain some hesitation to give up full control to a self-driving vehicle. Education, exposure and experience will likely help ease consumer fears as we steer toward a more automated future.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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