COLUMBUS — Consumer trust in autonomous vehicle technology has quickly eroded, following recent high-profile incidents involving self-driving cars. Today, 73 percent of American drivers report they would be too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, up significantly from 63 percent in late 2017, according to a new report from AAA’s multi-year tracking study.
“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 widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”
Since 2016, AAA has conducted periodic surveys to better understand consumer attitude toward self-driving vehicles. Following a series of high-profile crashes involving these vehicles:
Three quarters (73 percent) of U.S. drivers would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, compared to 63 percent just a few months ago and 78 percent in early 2017.
Two thirds (63 percent) of U.S. drivers would feel less safe sharing the road with fully self-driving cars, compared to 46 percent just a few months ago and 59 percent in early 2017.
Millennials — the group that has been the quickest to embrace automated vehicle technologies — were the most impacted by recent incidents. The percentage of millennial drivers too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle has jumped from 49 percent to 64 percent, representing the largest increase of any generation surveyed. Women remain more likely than men to be afraid of riding in a fully self-driving vehicle.
“While autonomous vehicles are being tested, there’s always a chance that they will fail or encounter a situation that challenges even the most advanced systems,” said Megan Foster, AAA’s director of Federal Affairs. “To ease fears, there must be safeguards in place to protect vehicle occupants and the motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians with whom they share the road.”