AAA surveys finds that autonomous vehicles scare many Americans

The prospect of self-driving cars still has many Americans feeling uneasy according to AAA’s latest annual survey. Many Americans are frightened by the prospect of riding in a self-driving car. AAA’s survey finds that 63% of U.S. drivers said they are afraid of riding in a car that is self-driving. However, this is down from a previously conducted survey showing that 78% of the respondents saying they were afraid of autonomous vehicles in general. The survey does show that 51% of the drivers in the US say they want to see semi-autonomous features in their cars, i.e. active cruise control, emergency braking, and self-steering. This is down from the previous year when it was 59%. ‘

The AAA survey finds that women are more likely to fear riding in an autonomous car than men by a margin of 73% to 52%. More than half of millennials are embracing the idea of self-driving cars with only 49% afraid of driver-less cars, this is down 73% from the previous year.

You can see why many drivers and passengers are weary of this technology as there has been several high profile incidents involving self-driving cars. GM’s Cruise program’s Chevrolet Bolt autonomous car had a run in with a motorcyclist last year and just the other day a Tesla Model S driver rear ends a fire truck while the car was “supposely”  driving in Autopilot mode. Yet, many tech giants remain in a race to build self-driving cars. Google’s Waymo, ride-sharing companies like Uber and many Silicon Valley startups all want a piece in the robo-car pie. GM has went as far as seeking US government approval for a steering wheel-less autonomous car to be introduced in 2019.

Many drivers are confident of their own driving skills with nearly three quarters of respondents saying they feel they are better than the average driver. 8 of 10 men feel confident of their driving skills, but this with statistics indicating human error being the leading cause of car accidents.

Meanwhile, testing of self-driving vehicles continues expanding to other cities, some people encounter a self-driving car while many may not. AAA’s survey shows just only 13% of respondents saying they will feel safer sharing a road with an autonomous car, while 46% say they would feel less safe. Many Americans still prefer or trust themselves more to drive their own cars than to have a robo-car doing the driving for them.

Image credits: GM and Green car reports
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