Consumers aren't sold on the safety of self-driving vehicles, whether it's a car or a semi-truck.

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Driverless Cars Make People Feel Less Safe: Study
Consumers aren't sold on the safety of self-driving vehicles, whether it's a car or a semi-truck.

— Driverless cars scare people, a fact repeated in multiple studies and reports which collected consumer attitudes about sharing the roads with autonomous vehicles.

In the latest research conducted by AAA and the Technology and Public Purpose Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, only a small percentage of consumers believe driverless vehicles will make the roads safer.

According to researchers, 38 states and the District of Columbia have active programs that allow self-driving test vehicles to operate on public roads, a fact many consumers know nothing about.

Support of these programs was split, with 34% of drivers in favor, 36% opposed and 31% unsure about allowing autonomous test vehicles on the highways.

Research results from AAA and Harvard indicate the majority of the public believes sharing the roads with driverless cars will make the roads less safe, no matter if the autonomous vehicles are cars or tractor-trailers.

Sharing the road with:

Self-driving semi-trucks

  • Feel less safe: 53% / Feel more safe: 11%

Small, self-driving delivery vehicles

  • Feel less safe: 43% / Feel more safe: 12%

Self-driving vehicles on a highway

  • Feel less safe: 47% / Feel more safe: 13%

Self-driving vehicles on local roads

  • Feel less safe: 44% / Feel more safe: 13%

However, research participants say there are things that would at least make them feel safer sharing the roads with autonomous vehicles.

Simply clearly marking a driverless car as a self-driving car would make about 60% of the public feel safer, as would having designated driving lanes for autonomous vehicles.

About 30% of respondents say they would feel more comfortable if there were restrictions on the times of day or days of the week when self-driving vehicles can use the roads.

Researchers also learned about 50% of the public believes consumers should be educated about how to behave around driverless cars. And a self-driving car should also operate consistently and provide predictable behavior, something which should be defined by safety regulators.

Check out previous research regarding sharing the roads with self-driving cars.


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