COLUMBUS Every year, 35,000 drivers die on America's roadways, mostly due to human error. Government and safety experts estimate connected and automated vehicles have the potential to prevent up to 80 percent of today's crashes, but AAA research finds drivers continue to fear fully self-driving cars.
"A great race toward autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. "However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle."
A 2016 AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans feel afraid to ride in a self-driving car. One year later, that fear is unchanged. Still, six out of 10 (59 percent) of Americans say they want autonomous features on their next car. This contrast suggests that American drivers are ready to embrace autonomous technology, but are not ready to give up full control.
Detailed survey findings reveal distinct gender and generational differences in how drivers feel about self-driving vehicles:
Half (54 percent) of U.S. drivers feel less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while one-third (34 percent) feel it wouldn't make a difference and only 10 percent say they would feel safer
Women (58 percent) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49 percent)
Baby Boomers (60 percent) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56 percent) or Millennials (41 percent)
Six out of 10 (59 percent) of U.S. drivers want autonomous vehicle technology in their next vehicle, while the remainder do not (25 percent) or are unsure (16 percent)
Millennials (70 percent) are more likely to want the technologies than Generation X (54 percent) or Baby Boomers (51 percent).
Three-quarters (78 percent) of Americans are afraid to ride in self-driving vehicles
Women (85 percent) are more likely to be afraid than men (69 percent)
Baby Boomers (85 percent) are more likely to be afraid than Generation X (75 percent) or Millennials (73 percent)
"U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don't work consistently enough to replace a human driver and they're correct," said Brannon. "While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it's important that consumers understand that today's systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel."
AAA urges the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure American drivers are informed, prepared and comfortable with this shift in mobility.
To educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the on-going, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies. Previous testing of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology and lane keeping systems has shown both great promise and great variation.
Variation may be particularly concerning to consumers, with AAA's survey revealing that 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers. Future AAA testing will look at how well systems work together to achieve higher levels of automation.
For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services.
Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.