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Americans Hesitant to Feel Safe in Autonomous Vehicles

March 6, 2020
AAA survey finds only 12% of drivers would feel safe riding in a car that drives itself.

While the hype around autonomous vehicles continues to grow, a recent AAA survey on automated vehicles reveals that only about one in ten drivers (12%) would trust riding in a self-driving car.

Furthermore, 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 ten (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 Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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