Although there are no autonomous vehicles for sale to the public at the moment, the American people remain skeptical of these Silicon Valley cars that are currently being tested across the country.
Take, for example, Elaine Herzberg, she was walking her bicycle across a Tempe, Arizona street when an autonomous Uber ran her over. The story was widely publicized, along with other incidents. The latest consumer report shows that recent negative press concerning self-driving vehicles has incited fear among the vast majority of Americans.
The American Automobile Association's (AAA) annual automated vehicle survey found that 71% of people are terrified to ride in self-driving vehicles. That's about a 13% increase in fear levels rom April 2018 after the Tempe fatality. Before the incident, fear of self-driving cars was at 63%.
The survey revealed that only 19% of respondents said they were comfortable with self-driving cars.
AAA believes there is much work to be done to improve consumers' perception of self-driving vehicles.
“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “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.”
“Despite fears still running high, AAA’s study also shows that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” continued Brannon. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education will play a key role in easing fears about self-driving cars.”
AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah, in partnership with the city of Las Vegas, Keolis North America and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, tested the first and largest self-driving metro bus for public consumption, all to sway public opinion that self-driving vehicles are safe.
The self-driving bus was the first in the country to be used in a city environment. The public had a voluntary opportunity to participate in a survey about their post-ride experience. Of those who responded, many described their overall mood improved towards the self-driving vehicles.
More than half of Americans (55%) believe by the end of the next decade, most cars will be outfitted with autonomous features. Those who are skeptical that autonomous vehicles will be driving on roads in the near term, cite reasons such as technology not being fully matured and government regulation.
While experts agree that self-driving vehicles could arrive by the mid-2020s, Silicon Valley and big tech are behind the curve in convincing the American people that this new form of transportation is safe.