AAA: Polls Show Majority of Americans Are Not Ready for Self-Driving Cars

Drivers say improving vehicle safety systems takes priority over developing self-driving cars

While most Americans want new technology in their vehicle, the majority are not yet ready for their car to drive itself. (AAA image)

(AAA) – While most Americans want new technology in their vehicle, the majority are not yet ready for their car to drive itself.

A new national AAA survey found that:

■ 14% of drivers would trust riding in a vehicle that drives itself (a similar percentage to last year’s results)
■ 54% would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle
■ 32% are unsure about it

Only 22% of people feel manufacturers should focus on developing self-driving vehicles.

The majority of drivers (80%) say manufacturers should focus on improving existing technology like lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking.

“People are ready to embrace new vehicle technology, especially if they’re confident it will make driving safer,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group.

“However, previous AAA research has found that some systems do not always work as expected. This unreliability can negatively influence a driver’s willingness to embrace new vehicle automation.”

Most new vehicles have ADAS technology

Consumers who buy new will likely have at least one type of vehicle safety system. In many cases, this could be their first interaction with more advanced vehicle technology.

Nearly 96% of 2020 vehicle models came equipped with at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, or lane-keeping assistance. More than half (58%) said they want these systems in their next vehicle.

AAA Advice for Consumers and Manufacturers

A collective effort by both the auto industry and consumers is what it will take to move the needle away from apprehension and closer toward acceptance.

■ Manufacturers should continue to hone vehicle technology by expanding testing and focusing on including more real-world scenarios encountered by drivers.

■ The public should also find opportunities to educate themselves on when and how self-driving vehicles will be a part of daily life.
Methodology

The survey was conducted January 15-17, 2021, 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; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone.

A total of 1,010 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.

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