Self-driving cars stuck in neutral on the road to acceptance

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

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A new AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals that only about one in 10 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.

“Consumer hesitation about autonomous vehicles is understandable, and clear and transparent information will go a long way towards easing any fears,” says Mike Hoshaw, vice president of Automotive Services, AAA East Central. “This new survey reveals that the public’s trepidation would be eased by knowing how the technology works, and knowing that they can take control of the vehicle back at any time.”

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 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.

Half (51%) are interested about laws to make sure self-driving cars are safe.

Half (49%) want to know how vulnerable they will be to hackers.

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. 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 may still be 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.

About the Study:

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.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 78 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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