Consumers Not Quite Ready for Driverless Cars, But Optimistic, Study Says

By Ken Briodagh January 19, 2017

A new survey from Morning Consult, a media and technology company, has been released, and it seems to indicate that the driverless car industry still has a ways to go before consumers will be ready to hop in.  The poll was conducted January 12-13 among 2,200 adults, and the findings show that only 23 percent of the surveyed Americans currently are willing to ride in an autonomous car, and 28 percent reported that they wouldn’t even try it.

The survey did show that some consumers are optimistic about the future of autonomous vehicles, with 42 percent saying they may be willing to adopt the technology at some point in the future.

Other highlights from the poll include:

In addressing the “Save the Passenger or Save the Pedestrian?” ethical question, almost half said they aren’t sure what the cars should be told to do. Eighteen percent said the vehicles should be programmed to always protect the passenger, and 34 percent said they should be programmed to minimize the number of casualties, even if that means putting people inside the car at risk.

Americans don’t know that autonomy is safer, with 41 percent of respondents reporting that they think autonomous cars are less safe than a vehicle driven by humans. About a third said that driverless cars are safer, and 7 percent said they are equally safe.

In a weird sampling of answers, about half of the surveyed people think passengers in driverless cars should be allowed to talk on the phone, but only 35 percent said it was okay for them to text or email; meanwhile, about a quarter said it was okay to read, drink or watch videos, and 15 percent were fine with sleeping.

The crux of all this, to me, is that there’s much more work to be done to educate consumers about the advantages and realistic risks of autonomous driving.

Edited by Alicia Young
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Editorial Director

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