Drivers Steering Clear of Self-Driving Vehicles, Reports AAA

March 30, 2016 16:00 pm · 26 comments

Three out of four U.S. drivers report feeling  “afraid” to ride in a self-driving car, according to a new survey from AAA.

With today’s heightened focus on autonomous vehicles, this fear poses a potential concern to the automotive industry as consumers may be reluctant to fully embrace the self-driving car.

Despite this significant fear, AAA also found that drivers who own vehicles equipped with semi-autonomous features are, on average, 75 percent more likely to trust the technology than those that do not own it, suggesting that gradual experience with these advanced features can ease consumer fears.

“With the rapid advancement toward autonomous vehicles, drivers may be hesitant to give up full control,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “What many motorists  may not realize is that the building blocks toward self-driving cars are already in today’s vehicles and the technology is constantly improving and well-trusted by those who have experienced it.”

While only one-in-five survey respondents say they would trust an autonomous vehicle to drive itself, the AAA survey revealed that consumer demand for semi-autonomous vehicle technology is high. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) report wanting at least one of the following technologies on their next vehicle: automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology or lane-keeping assist.

Among drivers who want these features on their next vehicle, AAA found their primary motivations are:

  • Safety (84 percent)
  • Convenience (64 percent)
  • Reducing stress (46 percent)
  • Wanting the latest technology (30 percent)

The survey also reveals that Baby Boomers are more likely to cite safety as a reason they want semi-autonomous features on their next vehicle (89 percent) than Millennials (78 percent).

Millennials are more likely to cite convenience (75 percent) and wanting the latest technology (36 percent) compared to older generations, and that women are more likely to cite reducing stress as a reason for wanting the technology (50 percent) than men (42 percent).

The AAA survey also offered insights into why many motorists shy away from advanced vehicle technology.  Among those who do not want semi-autonomous features on their next vehicle, drivers cite trusting their driving skills more than the technology (84 percent), feeling the technology is too new and unproven (60 percent), not wanting to pay extra for it (57 percent), not knowing enough about the technology (50 percent) and finding it annoying (45 percent) as the top reasons.

Millennials (63 percent) and Gen-Xers (62 percent) are more likely to cite not wanting to pay extra for semi-autonomous technology, compared to Baby Boomers (49 percent).

One-in-four female drivers (23 percent) cite feeling the technology is too complicated to use as a reason for not wanting the technology in their next vehicle, compared to 12 percent of male drivers.

“While six-in-10 drivers want semi-autonomous technology in their next vehicle, there are still 40 percent of survey respondents are either undecided or reluctant to purchase these features, added Harris. “It’s clear that education is the key to addressing consumer hesitation toward these features and AAA’s on-going effort to evaluate vehicle technologies, highlighting both benefits and limitations, is designed to help drivers make informed choices.”

Rob March 30, 2016 at 4:06 PM

I suspect when cars first made their appearance that there would have been similar responses from people in horse drawn buggies…

Given the numbers the movement to self-driving cars will come quickly as the older (more reluctant) folks die off and the younger people take their place who are going to be ready for this and will be left wondering why in the world would people actually want to “drive” a car – particularly during rush hour.

Cellophane March 30, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Some bean counter has way to much time on his hands.

This Idea is Almost as Absurd...... March 30, 2016 at 4:18 PM

as Jerry Brown’s Bullet Train…

Aspirin March 30, 2016 at 4:40 PM

Perhaps technology will enable a self-driving vehicle to properly react to every contingency encountered but I doubt it will work 100% of the time.

In any event, I am unwilling to give total control to a self-driving car.

Just A Guy March 30, 2016 at 4:47 PM

And in 10 years time the folks actually driving a car will be the anachronism.


Atticus Thraxx March 30, 2016 at 4:47 PM

Won’t get me in one at gunpoint.

The Nut behind the wheel March 30, 2016 at 4:51 PM

I already have a self driving car.
Have for years.
I drive it myself.
Doesn’t scare me but terrorizes
my passengers.
Kinda like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!
“If ya don’t like the way I drive,
stay off the sidewalk!”

PoliteRider March 30, 2016 at 5:17 PM

@2 Cellophane, beans have value. The figures above are just statistics, no beans behind them!

Can't Even Run A Saw Mill March 30, 2016 at 5:46 PM

An the point of self driving vehicles is what?
So pointy headed wonders have something to keep them busy?

Work daily with semi and fully automated equipment and it is not 100% reliable. Is something to see when automated cranes no humans in the cab crash into each other because a position sensor and it’s back up unit both fail. Took better part of a day to get them untangled and back into service.

bubbles March 30, 2016 at 6:11 PM

Save those cars Disneyland…

Douglas Quaid March 30, 2016 at 6:16 PM

I would never take a JohnnyCab if my life depended on it.

Wear Floral Patterns March 30, 2016 at 6:32 PM

Wonder what self driving cars will do for the drink driving industry

That's Mr Pugnacious to you March 30, 2016 at 6:57 PM

It’s a100% probability that I won’t ride in a self driving car. Hell I won’t even ride in a Prius.

Concord Grape March 30, 2016 at 7:17 PM

Then you can put on makeup ,text, read the paper, drink coffee. Oops, it’s already done, silly me

john Pope March 30, 2016 at 7:34 PM

Self-driving cars are like pornography. I’d rather do it myself!

Beacon March 30, 2016 at 8:05 PM

I can’t wait until self-driving cars arrive. I’ll gladly delegate one of the least enjoyable aspects of my daily life. It will never be 100% reliable, but it will quickly become more reliable than human operators.

bubbles March 30, 2016 at 10:37 PM

I love driving and no way in he** will I ever support driver-less vehicles. Friggin lazy people, you dont wanna drive take a cab or public transit, dont look to supporting the stupid driver-less cars.

ClayDen March 30, 2016 at 10:43 PM

Some of the technologies, such as lane keeping, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control might help the lower skilled and less attentive drivers (i.e., most drivers). This is especially true of the first two mentioned helping when the inattentive driver starts to doze off due to using the cruise control.

My two most driven cars have a total of a little over 300,000 miles on them and have probably had the cruise control on for less than 250 miles total. About the only time I use cruise control is when my right leg needs a little exercise on a long trip; the rest of the time I want to be more in control. I drove from near the Canadian border in Montana to home (~1,300 miles) in two days and never had the cruise control on. I don’t like automatic transmissions either and tried to buy my Odyssey with a manual transmission (Honda said it wasn’t possible). Three pedals and no cruise control use keeps me involved and more alert when I drive (and it’s more fun). ABS is a good advanced feature though. BTW, I am not anti-technology, as I have spent over 35 years as an aerospace engineer. I will not have a self driving car, nor an electric one.

ccat March 30, 2016 at 10:49 PM

I like to drive. I like to roll down the windows, turn up my music and enjoy the sun on my face, (ragtop). I have an 18 year old mazda convertible with a stick, and its sooo fun to drive. I can’t understand why anyone would want to self-driving car.

Silva March 31, 2016 at 6:39 AM

No. Way.

Turn and burn March 31, 2016 at 7:04 AM

So in a self driving car, who controls the speed? If it says 35 mph, will the car go no faster then the speed limit? If the light turns yellow, will it automatically come to a stop? Might not be a bad idea. No more red light runners or speeders.

Beat the back up March 31, 2016 at 9:14 AM

I agree with #19. But, if self-driving cars will drive on the right and pass on the left, as well as park in-between the lines, I might be interested.

Piggly Wiggly March 31, 2016 at 12:37 PM

And then they will find a glitch in the system causing millions of accidents.
Does this mean you won’t need a drivers license anymore? The cars photo will be on the license?

TheGhetto March 31, 2016 at 1:27 PM

Are they on the market yet, I’m so tired of drinking and driving.

But wait.... March 31, 2016 at 1:31 PM

What if I wanna do donuts or burn some rubber?

Wear Floral Patterns March 31, 2016 at 2:22 PM

I presume Uber or similar will invest in this instead of paying humans, in exchange for lower prices cars

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