As the development and testing of autonomous vehicle technology continues to progress rapidly, a new consumer survey from AAA reveals that drivers’ greatest concerns about the introduction of this technology are safety and reliability.
Safety, Reliability and Data Security
The new survey finds 70 percent of drivers feel an autonomous vehicle’s safety and reliability are overwhelming concerns when it comes to adoption of the technology, followed by mechanical breakdowns and cost of repair (8 percent) and data and cybersecurity (8 percent).
Public Policy Polling conducted a state-specific survey of nearly 8,000 licensed drivers for AAA in Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, south Dakota, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia between March 27-28, 2018, approximately a week and a half after the highly publicized death of a pedestrian whom was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle in Arizona.
“It is difficult to say whether the incident in Arizona might have affected the way people answered questions about the introduction of autonomous vehicle technology, but it may have been on their minds,” said Cathy Rossi, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “It is incumbent upon manufacturers, technology companies and regulators to continue to work toward ensuring new technology is safe and proper protections are in place for all road users.”
In order for autonomous vehicles to operate alongside each other on the highway, they need to exchange data regularly with other vehicles and roadway infrastructure. A clear majority (83 percent) of survey respondents say they are very concerned or somewhat concerned about the security of the data sent to and from autonomous vehicles. Eleven percent said they were not very concerned or not concerned at all.
Current Technology, Liability, and Driving Habits
Many of today’s new vehicles have some of the same technology being used in autonomous or partly autonomous vehicles, such as lane departure warning, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and crash avoidance braking. Fifty-seven percent of Pennsylvania respondents said they do not use these technologies, and, of those who do, the majority use primarily adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.
If respondents in the survey are uncertain about the safety of autonomous vehicles, they have a pretty clear sense of who should be responsible if something goes wrong. When asked who should be responsible for liability while riding in a driverless vehicle:
- The car manufacturer - 30 percent
- The technology company - 26 percent
- The car owner - 21 percent
- The licensed driver - 9 percent
When asked how their vehicle usage habits are likely to change in comparison to their current habits, 62 percent of respondents said they would likely use a driverless vehicle less than they use their current vehicle now. Another 20 percent said that they would use the driverless vehicle to transport them about the same amount while 9 percent said they would use the driverless vehicle to transport them more. The answer to this question will have a significant impact on the way cities and towns plan and pay for their transportation needs in the future.
Would You Get In?
In January 2018, AAA released the results of a nationwide poll regarding autonomous vehicles. In that poll, six out of ten U.S. drivers (63 percent) reported feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle. That result is a significant decrease from 78 percent in early 2017.
The state-specific AAA survey revealed that the large majority of respondents, 77 percent would choose not to ride in a driverless car, bus, or shuttle if it were available in their location suggesting that broad public awareness and education campaigns will be crucial to the success of any such deployment.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.