Patrick Grieve
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J.D. Power Study Finds Older Drivers More Suspicious of Autonomous Vehicles

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Google Driverless Car's Interior is surprising.

Look out, gramps, it’s coming for you

Today J.D. Power released its annual US Tech Choice Study, which revealed that, unsurprisingly, younger drivers are more likely than older drivers to trust vehicles equipped with autonomous technology.  

A whopping 59% of Generation Y respondents (those born after 1976) said they trust autonomous technology, compared to 41% of Gen Xers (those born from 1965-76), and a mere 23% of baby boomers (born from 1946-64).

At 18%, those born before 1946 were the age group least likely to trust self-driving cars, regarding them as suspiciously as they do smartphones, meals eaten after 5 pm, and the Puerto Rican family that just moved in down the street. (Somewhat ironic, considering that those born before 1946 are also the age group that I’m least likely to trust driving non-autonomous cars).

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Though self-driving cars have the potential to make driving much safer (not to mention relaxing, since such vehicles will allow you to literally fall asleep at the wheel), it may be a while before a majority of car shoppers trust the technology.

“The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers,” said Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power’s executive director of driver interaction. “Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles.”

Consumers of all ages expressed fears about cyberhacking, which is a legitimate concern. However, younger drivers were more open to the idea of autonomous tech, and also showed much more interest in “alternative mobility,” such as ride-sharing services and vehicle co-ownership.

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What’s the takeaway? In the future, when young people eventually inherit the earth and its roadways, all cars will be both autonomous and shared. Whenever you need to go anywhere, you’ll just pull out your phone and a self-driving Uber will pick you up and chauffer you to your destination. Never again will you worry about drunk/drowsy/distracted driving or finding a parking spot. It will be a shining utopia of transportation, until techno-terrorists use their cyberhacking skills to turn all of our streets into demolition derbies.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

You can read the full J.D. Power US Tech Choice Study here.

Patrick Grieve was born in Southwestern Ohio and has lived there all of his life, with the exception of a few years spent getting a Creative Writing degree in Southeastern Ohio. He loves to take road trips, sometimes to places as distant as Northeastern or even Northwestern Ohio. Patrick also enjoys old movies, shopping at thrift stores, going to ballgames, writing about those things, and watching Law & Order reruns. He just watches the original series, though, none of the spin-offs. And also only the ones they made before Jerry Orbach died. Season five was really the peak, in his opinion. See more articles by Patrick.