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.”