Survey: People still wary of self-driving cars

U.S. drivers still aren’t quite as excited about self-driving vehicles as tech and car companies are, according to a new study released Monday.

Nearly half of respondents to an April survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said their preferred level of automation was “no self-driving.” That 45.8 percent figure was followed by 38.7 percent who preferred “some self-driving” and 15.5 percent who were all in for “completely self-driving.”

“Overall public opinion has been remarkably consistent over the two years that this survey has been conducted,” said the study’s authors, Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak. “The general patterns of responses have not changed over the course of these two surveys, despite the increased media coverage of self-driving vehicles.”

When asked about riding in vehicles that were either completely self-driving or partially self-driving, 37.2 percent of respondents were “very concerned” about the completely self-driving cars, compared with 17 percent who were very concerned about the partially self-driving vehicles.

In addition, 94.5 percent of respondents would prefer that completely self-driving vehicles still have a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals so human drivers can take over a vehicle if needed. (Google, a pioneer in self-driving technology, is testing cars without a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals.)

The study, which received 618 surveys completed online using SurveyMonkey, report results that are in line with a study released by AAA in March, which in January found that 3 out of 4 U.S. drivers were afraid to ride in a self-driving car.

Speaking of being afraid, a report last month by the Rand Corporation doesn’t help: It found that self-driving cars may not be proven safe for decades — because they just haven’t been driven enough.

On the other side, proponents of self-driving cars argue that they are safer than cars driven by humans.


Photo: A Google self-driving car travels eastbound on San Antonio Road Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 22, 2015 in Mountain View, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 


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  • Alan

    I’m not surprised, 99.99% of Americans have never even seen a self driving car.

  • warhammer45945

    It’s hilarious that one of the chief concerns regarding computer-operated cars is safety. Have these people examined the safety record of human operators? Because it is atrocious. It would be tough to do worse than your average human at safely operating a vehicle.

  • Karl Rowley

    Google has managed to convince a lot of people that the robot cars will be safer. However they don’t have the data to back it up. They are playing with fire testing their cars on public streets.