Americans are scared of sharing the road with self-driving cars, survey shows

Half of drivers aren’t comfortable sharing the road with a self-driving car. That’s one of the results of a survey conduct by AAA.

According to the survey, 54% of drivers “would feel less safe sharing the road with self‐driving cars while they drive a regular car.”

The survey also found that 34% “feel it makes no difference, 10 per cent would feel safer and 2 per cent are unsure.”

The fear of a radically new thing is hard to overcome.

“A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, said in a statement.

“However, while US drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle.”

AAA was attempting to determine attitudes not just about self-driving cars, but how attitudes had or hadn’t changed since a similar survey was conducted in early 2016. The most recent survey was conducted via random landline and cell-phone calls to 1,012 adults in the US.

Generational fears

Fear of self-driving cars is generational. Baby Boomers are more afraid of sharing the road than Generation Xers, who are slightly more fearful than Millennials.

Some of that fear can be chalked up to an apprehensiveness about new technologies. But older drivers’ experience shouldn’t be completely discounted. They have seen more and tend to be safer and take greater care behind the wheel than younger people.

Other results of the survey revealed that “three‐quarters of U.S. drivers would be afraid to ride in a self‐driving vehicle, while 19 per cent would trust the vehicle and 4 per cent are unsure.”

But a significant number of the surveyed group — 59% — said that they want to have self-driving technology in their next vehicle.

“Giving up control of a vehicle — one that’s often carrying your most precious cargo — is a scary thought for many Americans,” Brannon said. “However, it’s important to understand that the evolution from today’s vehicles to driverless vehicles will be gradual.”

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