American drivers are beginning to feel more comfortable about the idea of self-driving vehicles, according to a new study from AAA. The annual survey reveals that 63 percent of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, a significant decrease from 78 percent in early 2017. Millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.
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. “Americans are feeling less leery about riding in self-driving vehicles,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “However, many are still skeptical about sharing the road with driverless cars.”
In AAA’s new survey, only 13 percent of U.S. drivers report that they would feel safer sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle while nearly half (46 percent) would actually feel less safe. Others say they are indifferent (37 percent) or unsure (4 percent).
It’s also interesting to note that U.S. drivers report high confidence in their own driving abilities. Despite the fact that more than 90 percent of crashes involve human error, three-quarters (73 percent) of U.S. drivers consider themselves better-than-average drivers. Men, in particular, are confident in their driving skills with 8 in 10 considering their driving skills better than average.
“Many think they’re excellent drivers, which may explain some hesitation to give up full control behind the wheel to a self-driving vehicle. Education, exposure and experience will help ease consumer fears as we steer toward a more automated future,” adds Dodds.
Additional AAA survey results include:
Women (73 percent) are more likely than men (52 percent) to be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, and more likely to feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving car (55 percent versus 36 percent).
Millennials are the most trusting of self-driving vehicles, with only 49 percent (down from 73 percent) reporting that they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.
While the majority of baby boomers (68 percent) still report being afraid to ride in a self-driving car, this generation is significantly more comfortable with the idea than they were a year ago, when 85 percent reported being afraid.
Baby boomers (54 percent) and Generation X (47 percent) drivers are more likely than millennial drivers (34 percent) to feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving car.