Self-driving cars continue to strike fear in nearly three quarters of Americans, a AAA survey found.

Headline-grabbing incidents like an autonomous car hitting and killing a woman in Tempe, Arizona last year seem to have influenced driving-age Americans. The AAA survey found 71 percent of them are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles.

Increased use of similar technology in existing, driver-operated vehicles, such as self-parking and lane-keeping assistance, means public fear of self-driving vehicles could weaken.

“Despite fears still running high, AAA’s study also shows that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments, coupled with stronger education, will play a key role in easing fears about self-driving cars.”

What the study found

AAA conducted a survey consisting of 1,008 interviews with adults 18 or older.

The AAA survey in relation to public fear of self-driving vehicles sought to learn:

  • Do U.S. drivers fear riding in a fully self-driving vehicle?
  • How comfortable are U.S. drivers with using fully self-driving vehicles for: low speed, short distance transportation; delivery services for food or packages; and transporting children and loved ones?
  • Do U.S. drivers think that in 10 years most cars will drive themselves?

Seven in 10 U.S. drivers would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle in a finding that shows public fear of self-driving vehicles mirrors fears researchers found in an April 2018 survey.

Slightly more than half, or 53 percent, of U.S. drivers said they would be comfortable with autonomous vehicles being used to transport people by mover systems found at airports and theme parks. Such transports look like subway cars or shuttle buses.

About 44 percent of U.S. drivers would be comfortable with using self-driving vehicles to deliver food or packages.

Only 19 percent of U.S. drivers were comfortable with self-driving vehicles transporting children or loved ones.

A slight majority in the survey, 55 percent, said they thought that most cars would be equipped to drive themselves 10 years from now.

The reasons why most survey respondents said they doubted cars will be driving themselves in 10 years broke down this way:

  • The belief that people won’t trust self-driving cars (53 percent)
  • Won’t want to give up driving themselves (52 percent)
  • Technology won’t be ready (34 percent)
  • Road conditions won’t be good enough (33 percent)

Can any vehicle on the road today really drive itself? No. The most advanced systems available to consumers now still require your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Self-driving cars require sophisticated suites of sensors, backed by advanced software that can interpret massive streams of data in real-time, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Key to helping the public embrace self-driving vehicles will be educating people on the safe use of the technology, use of consistent wording in the naming and discussion of such technology to reduce confusion and clarity about what the systems are designed to do.

Contact the Israel & Gerity law firm in Arizona today about a self-driving vehicle accident or cases related to intellectual property, business law or personal injury.