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U.S. Drivers Warming Up to Fully-Autonomous Cars

January 24, 2018

Developers of autonomous driving systems still face the challenge of winning the public's trust in the evolving technology. Photo courtesy of Waymo.
Developers of autonomous driving systems still face the challenge of winning the public's trust in the evolving technology. Photo courtesy of Waymo.

Drivers in the U.S. are beginning to embrace autonomous vehicles, with the percentage of American drivers afraid to ride in self-driving vehicles dropping significantly from a previous report by AAA.

The annual survey from AAA found that 63% of drivers in the U.S. report feeling afraid to ride in fully-autonomous vehicles, which is a decrease from the 78% reported in early 2017, according to AAA. Male drivers and millennials are the most trusting of self-driving technology; only half reported being afraid of the technology. The study found that 52% of men would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.

“Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles,” AAA Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations Director Greg Brannon said. “Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride.”

Meanwhile, 13% of U.S. Drivers said they would feel safer sharing the road with autonomous vehicles, and 46% reported said they would feel less safe. For the remainder, 37% said they are indifferent to the technology and 4% are unsure with how they feel.

In the recent survey, 73% of women said they are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, and more likely to feel less safe sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.

Millennials are the most trusting of self-driving vehicles, with only 49% reporting that they would be afraid to ride in self-driving vehicles, down from the previously reported 73%, according to a report from AAA. About 68% of baby boomers still report being afraid to ride in autonomous vehicles. The generation is significantly more comfortable with the idea than they were a year ago, when 85% reported being afraid.

The study also found that Generation X drivers are more likely than millennial drivers to feel less safe sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.

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