American drivers conflicted about self-driving cars


R-H Staff



DAYTON — A new report from AAA reveals that the majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to fear the fully self-driving car.

Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles. As automakers press forward in the development of autonomous vehicles, AAA urges the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure that American drivers are informed, prepared and comfortable with this shift in mobility.

“A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle.”

In 2016, a AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car. One year later, a new AAA survey found that fear is unchanged. While the majority are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the latest survey also found that the majority (59 percent) of Americans are keen to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. This marked contrast suggests that American drivers are ready embrace autonomous technology, but they are not yet ready to give up full control.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver – and they’re correct,” continued Brannon. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

Additional survey findings include:

•Half (54 percent) of U.S. drivers feel less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while one-third (34 percent) feel it wouldn’t make a difference and only 10 percent say they would feel safer.

•Women (58 percent) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49 percent).

•Baby Boomers (60 percent) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56 percent) or Millennials (41 percent)

•The majority (59 percent) of U.S. drivers want autonomous vehicle technology in their next vehicle, while the remainder do not (25 percent) or are unsure (16 percent).

•Millennials (70 percent) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54 percent) and Baby Boomers (51 percent).

•Three-quarters (78 percent) of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.

•Baby Boomers (85 percent) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73 percent) and Generation X (75 percent) drivers.

•Women (85 percent) are more likely to be afraid than men (69 percent).

To educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the on-going, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies. Previous testing of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology and lane keeping systems has shown both great promise and great variation. This variation may be particularly concerning to consumers, with AAA’s survey revealing that 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers. Future AAA testing will look at how well systems work together to achieve higher levels of automation.

“Every year, we lose approximately 35,000 people on America’s roadways, most as a result of human error,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s managing director of Government Relations and Traffic Safety. “Connected and automated vehicle technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce this number, and automakers, government agencies and safety organizations like AAA must continue working together to ensure that these new vehicles are safely tested and deployed.”

Ohio Drivers & Self-Driving Cars

How do Ohio drivers feel about self-driving cars? In a recent local poll more than a third of Ohio drivers think the new technology will lead to more—not less crashes, and a majority of Ohio drivers surveyed don’t believe the new technology will be available for at least another decade. In fact, drivers are using autonomous technology today! Many new vehicles come equipped with autonomous safety technology that includes lane departure warning, automatic braking and parking assistance. A majority of drivers say they want these features on their vehicles, but they likely don’t associate the technology with autonomous vehicle technology.

Ohio Survey Results

If you were behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle or self-driving car, do you think you would watch the road the same way you would as if you were in a vehicle where you have complete control of driving, or not?

• More than half (56 percent) of drivers think they would still watch the road while being behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle or self-driving car the same way they would as if they were in a vehicle where they have complete control of driving.

•Thirty-nine percent said they do not think they would still watch the road while being behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle or self-driving car the same way they would as if they were in a vehicle where they have complete control of driving.

•Four percent were not sure.

How soon can you imagine routinely riding in a fully autonomous or self-driving vehicle?

•In 3 years 10 — percent

•Within 7 years — 16 percent

•Within 10 years — 23 percent

•Longer than 10 years from now — 17 percent

•Never — 30 percent

•Not sure — 5 percent

In order for an autonomous vehicle to operate, it needs to exchange data regularly with other vehicles and infrastructure. How concerned are you about the security of data sent to and from autonomous vehicles?

•Very concerned — 62 percent

•Somewhat concerned — 24 percent

•Somewhat unconcerned — 7 percent

•Not at all concerned — 5 percent

•Not sure — 3 percent

The latest research shows that most roadway crashes are caused by human error. What impact, if any, do you believe autonomous vehicle technology will have on roadway crashes: do you think it will result in fewer crashes, more crashes, or will it not have an impact on crash statistics?

•Fewer crashes — 33 percent

•More crashes — 38 percent

•No impact on crash statistics — 17 percent

•Not sure — 12 percent

Do you think local and state governments should inform the public when and where autonomous vehicles will be tested on roads in their area, or not?

•84 percent — Think local and state governments should inform the public when and where autonomous vehicles will be tested on roads in their area.

•10 percent — Do not think local and state governments should inform the public when and where autonomous vehicles will be tested on roads in their area.

•6 percent — Not sure.

When it comes to self-driving cars, what would you say is the factor that influences your opinion the most: the brand of the vehicle; what family, friends, colleagues and neighbors say; news reports; advertising; social media; or something else?

•Brand of the vehicle 21 percent

•What family, friends, colleagues and neighbors say 13 percent

•News reports — 23 percent

•Advertising — 3 percent

•Something else — 28 percent

•Not sure — 8 percent

While most may not be comfortable with the idea of self-driving cars, testing of autonomous vehicles in Ohio has already started. Late last year, a self-driving truck made its debut on the Ohio Turnpike to kick off autonomous vehicle testing, and Governor John Kasich recently announced a $45 million investment in a SMART Mobility Advanced Research and Test (SMART) Center in East Liberty, Ohio to test autonomous vehicles as a part of his two-year state budget.

“It is evident that Ohio wants to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to advancing autonomous vehicle technology across the country,” said Cindy Antrican, AAA Public Affairs Manager. “Now is the time to start planting seeds with the public and addressing consumer hesitation. AAA will continue to work with stakeholders on a national, state and local level on efforts that support the research and public education of autonomous vehicle technology to ensure the safety of all road users.”

R-H Staff

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