Monday, 25 March 2019 21:59

Most Americans Are Terrified of Getting in a Self-Driving Car

Written by Jessica Miley, Interesting Engineering
Most Americans Are Terrified of Getting in a Self-Driving Car Marc van der Chijs/Flickr


Most Americans are afraid of self-driving cars, according to a new report from AAA. The study shows that rather than getting used to the emerging technology, most survey respondents are getting more fearful.


The results from the study revealed that a massive 71 percent of Americans said they’re afraid to ride in a self-driving car---that’s up from the 63 percent who responded to a similar survey back in 2017.


Self-Driving Cars Kill


AAA suspects the reason for the fear is simple: It appears as though self-driving cars are killing people. Last year, an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. A local judge recently ruled that Uber is not criminally responsible for the incident.


In the same month, a Tesla driver was killed in a crash while their car was reportedly in “autopilot” mode.


“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, said in a statement. “Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for consumers and open the door for greater acceptance.”


Food Delivery Gets OK


Not all autonomous driving scenarios cause terror, though. According to the survey, 53 percent of Americans said they’re comfortable being inside a self-driving vehicle in low-speed situations at theme parks and airports.


Forty-four percent of respondents said they are also OK with autonomous vehicles being used to deliver food and goods.


“There are sometimes dozens of different marketing names for today’s safety systems,” Brannon said. “Learning how to operate a vehicle equipped with semi-autonomous technology is challenging enough without having to decipher the equipment list and corresponding level of autonomy.”


What Can the Cars Really See?


What’s concerning is that the number of people expressing fear of self-driving cars is now rising after previously starting to dip. A survey done at the beginning of 2017 showed 78 percent of Americans were afraid to ride in a self-driving car, but that dropped to just 63 percent in late 2017.

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