Would You Feel Safe in a Self-Driving Car?

Would You Feel Safe in a Self-Driving Car?

by / Wednesday, 23 March 2016 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents

With the way automotive technology is headed, it might not be long before cars that drive themselves start becoming a common sight on America’s roadways. Some forms of self-driving technology, such as parking assistance and automatic emergency braking have been making their way into cars for a few years now, but would you be willing to get into a car that can drive itself?

If you’d be a little skeptical about getting into a car and letting it drive itself, you’re not alone. AAA recently conducted a survey of 1,800 drivers and only one in five respondents said they’d feel safe letting a self-driving car get them to their destination. Baby boomers are the age group most likely to be uneasy about self-driving cars with 82% of people in that age range saying they wouldn’t trust a self-driving car. Younger people are a little more likely to trust a self-driving car, but 69% of younger respondents said they wouldn’t trust a self-driving car. Women are more likely than men to be nervous about letting a self-driving car bring them somewhere.

Every year, over 30,000 people in the United States die in car accidents. Since over 90% of car accidents are caused by human error, self-driving cars should, in theory, help make the roads safer. After all, if technology has been developed to the point where self-driving cars can avoid accidents caused by some of the most common types of human error, like by not braking in time, and save lives, isn’t that a good thing?

Those who have their doubts about self-driving cars aren’t completely without merit. So far, self-driving cars have proven to not be completely accident-proof. As of May 2015, Google had over 20 self-driving cars it was testing out on the streets of California. Three of those cars had been involved in minor car accidents, but Google quickly pointed out that those incidents were caused by another driver. In February 2016, there was an incident where one of Google’s self-driving cars hit a bus while changing lanes, which Google did acknowledge their car was at fault for, but said the incident would help them improve the cars to prevent similar accidents from happening again.

While many drivers have their doubts about completely autonomous cars, drivers are more receptive to the idea of semi-autonomous driving technology. In the AAA survey, 61% said they’d like to have at least one element of self-driving technology in their next car with improved safety being the top reason why. 41% said they’d like to have technology to warn them if they’re veering out of their lane and help them stay centered in the lane, 40% said they want adaptive cruise control, 39% said they’d like automatic emergency braking, and 25% said they’d like self-parking technology.

Out of the drivers who said they don’t want self-driving technology in their next car, 84% said they trust their own driving skills over technology, 60% said they feel like the technology is too new to be trustworthy, 57% said they just didn’t want to pay extra for it, and 50% said they didn’t feel like they knew enough about the technology.

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