B-roll of self-driving car testing (credit: AAA GoMentum Station)
A new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals that only one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car. 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 about laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.
- Half (49%) want to know how vulnerable the vehicles 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. Those results include:
- 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.
- Four in ten (42%) would feel safer after seeing or experiencing a demonstration prior to getting into a self-driving car.
“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.
The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center has evaluated vehicles with partial autonomous vehicle technology and has found that while the technology has benefits, it is not flawless.
“Even partially automated vehicles are not one hundred percent reliable. That’s why the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center will continue to evaluate automated technology, as it evolves, for the benefit of consumers,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center.
Today, there are partial or semi-automated vehicles on the road. However, a fully automated fleet is still decades away. 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.
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 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.