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New AAA Survey Finds That Public Trust in Self-Driving Cars Is on a Rapid Decline

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After a series of accidents involving self-driving cars, 73% of American drivers stated that they would be too afraid to ride in an autonomous vehicle

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Following a fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle, public trust in autonomous technology is on a rapid decline

Earlier this year, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. As a result of the incident, and several other incidents involving self-driving vehicles, increased skepticism surrounding autonomous technology in automobiles has begun to surface.

A new survey conducted by AAA has found that this erosion in trust regarding self-driving cars is far more widespread than originally thought. In fact, the survey found that 73% of American drivers would be too afraid to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle.

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In late 2017, only 63% of American drivers reported that they were afraid to be a passenger in a self-driving vehicle. In less than a year, 10% more drivers have developed increased apprehension toward autonomous cars.

Pedestrians also aren’t feeling as safe around self-driving vehicles. 63% responded that they would actually feel less safe sharing the road with self-driving cars.


Pedestrians are especially wary of self-driving cars
Photo: Kaique Rocha

The group to lose the most faith in self-driving cars is Millennials. In 2017, only 49% of Millennials said they would be afraid to ride inside an autonomous car; now, that number has risen to 64%.

According to the survey, women are apparently less trusting of self-driving vehicles than men are. 83% of women said they were afraid to ride in an autonomous car, while only 63% of men claimed that they would be afraid to do the same.

Despite some apprehensions, drivers still want to see more semi-autonomous technologies in their vehicles

Nevertheless, it would appear that American drivers do recognize the benefits that autonomous and semi-autonomous technologies provide. 55% of drivers surveyed answered that they want semi-autonomous technology in the next vehicle that they buy.

While these accidents involving autonomous vehicles appear to have eroded the public trust, experts still agree that self-driving cars are far more safe than vehicles operated by humans. In fact, regulators say that 94% of on-road fatalities are due to human error.

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“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

Despite the advancements in autonomous technology that automotive manufacturers have been able to achieve, self-driving cars will need to gain the acceptance of the general public before they can be officially rolled out. As a result of several missteps during the initial testing period, it may take quite some time for automakers to gain back the confidence of the average U.S. driver.

Source: AAA