Autonomous Anxiety: Self-Driving Cars Still Terrify 66% Of Drivers, Reveals New Study

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In a recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA), it was revealed that a significant number of drivers are apprehensive about the idea of self-driving cars.

What Happened: The AAA study found that 66% of drivers are “afraid” of self-driving cars, with an additional 24% expressing uncertainty about the technology. The findings also show a notable shift in attitudes in 2023 and 2024 compared to the preceding years, reported Teslarati on Monday.

The study also highlighted a concerning trend in the public’s perception of self-driving cars. Despite the absence of fully autonomous vehicles on the market, many consumers believe that such cars are readily available. This misconception has been fueled by high-profile crashes resulting from over-reliance on current vehicle technologies.

Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive research, noted that the decline in trust is not entirely surprising, given the recent crashes linked to over-reliance on existing vehicle technologies.

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Adrienne Woodland, a spokesperson for AAA, attributed the fears to widely publicized incidents where drivers lost their lives in car crashes due to the mistaken belief that their vehicle could drive itself. 

Woodland emphasized the need for more reliable and advanced self-driving technology, as well as increased public trust and awareness of emerging vehicle technology.

Brannon also highlighted the confusion surrounding the terminology used by automakers to describe their driver assistance programs, which has further contributed to the public’s misunderstanding of a vehicle’s capabilities. He stressed the importance of creating greater consistency across the industry and educating consumers about the type of technology their vehicle has and how to use it.

Why It Matters: The findings of the AAA study reflect a growing concern about the safety and reliability of self-driving technology. This apprehension is in line with Tesla CEO Elon Musk‘s recent comments about the challenges of achieving widespread autonomous driving. Musk suggested that it could take up to a decade before most cars are capable of fully autonomous driving.

These concerns are also reflected in the regulatory scrutiny faced by companies in the autonomous vehicle industry. Following a high-profile incident involving a pedestrian, the AV industry, including major players like General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), has come under intense scrutiny, raising questions about the safety and reliability of self-driving technology.

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