DAYTON, OH – A new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals that many Americans are still wary over the idea of riding in a self-driving car.
Research found that only 12% of drivers say they would trust a vehicle to drive itself while they are riding in it and 28% are unsure how they feel.
“This latest survey shows that consumers may be stuck in neutral when it comes to their acceptance of self-driving cars,” says Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson. “AAA believes consumer sentiment of automated vehicles will be driven by tangible information about key concerns and, equally important, quality education and experience.”
Safety and legal concerns
Consumers told AAA they have a desire to see more news stories or public information on key issues surrounding self-driving vehicles, including safety and liability. Among the findings:
- Nearly 6 in 10 (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.
- Just over half (51%) are interested in laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.
- Nearly 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 Hitchens. “AAA’s automated vehicle survey results tell us when people have the ability to take over control of the vehicle 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. More than 7 in 10 (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. Nearly half (47%) would feel safer knowing the self-driving car has passed rigorous testing and inspections. The survey found 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 Hitchens.
Still decades away
Today, there are 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 better connect consumers to advanced vehicle technology.
Due to a change in methodology in 2020, as the survey switched from telephone to online, 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.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.