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AAA finds only 12% of drivers would feel safe riding in a car that drives itself

By: John Townsend, AAA Public Relations Manager, DC

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, March 5, 2020) ––Only one in ten drivers (12%) say they would trust riding in a self-driving car, a new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals. Even more Americans – 28% – don’t know how they feel about the technology, signaling consumers are stuck in neutral on the road to accepting self-driving cars.

AAA believes consumer sentiment of automated vehicles will be driven by tangible information on key issues and, equally important, quality education and experience. 

Consumers told AAA that they have a desire to see more news stories or public information on key issues surrounding self-driving vehicles like safety and liability:

  • Six in ten (57%) Americans say they would like to have a clear understanding of who will be legally responsible in the event of a crash with a self-driving vehicle.
  • Half (51%) are interested in laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.
  • Half (49%) want to know how vulnerable they will be to hackers.

“Consumers have made it clear what it will take to overcome their doubts – consistent and transparent information – which will help make them feel safer about the idea of riding in a self-driving car,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “AAA’s automated vehicle survey tell us when people have the opportunity to take back control or even build their understanding of how this technology works, they are much more likely to embrace it.”

Americans specifically voiced their opinion on what would make them feel safer about self-driving cars. Seven in ten (72%) U.S. adults would feel safer riding in a self-driving car if they had the ability to take over control if something goes wrong.

“A similar proportion (69%) would feel safer if there was a human backup driver. Half (47%) would feel safer knowing the self-driving car has passed rigorous testing and inspections,” warns John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Four in ten (42%) would feel safer after seeing or experiencing a demonstration prior to getting into a self-driving car.

Today, there are semi-automated vehicles on the road. However, a fully automated fleet is still decades away.

“Knowing how people truly feel about self-driving cars will help the industry to identify the steps needed to move consumers towards greater acceptance,” continued Brannon.

AAA conducts research like this study and others to help inform and encourage the industry, media, and policymakers to find ways to help consumers connect better with advanced vehicle technology.

Methodology

Due to a change in methodology in 2020, this year’s survey results are not directly comparable to results from prior years. This survey was conducted on January 17 – 19, 2020, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall.

 The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,301 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...