Trust In Autonomous Vehicles On The Skids?

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In drivers we trust.

The headlines have been dominated by accidents, some serious, tied to autonomous vehicles.

And in the wake of the headlines, as found in a new report by AAA, consumers don’t exactly trust the non-person behind the wheel.

AAA reported that its multi-year tracking study indicates that as many as 73 percent of drivers in the United States say they would be, as AAA put it, “too afraid” to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle.

That’s up from 63 percent last year. A similar tally, at 63 percent, states that they would feel “less safe” if they were walking or biking while sharing the road with such vehicles.

Drilling down a bit into demographics: AAA said that “surprisingly,” the survey showed that millennials were among the most trepidatious about the vehicles. This comes against a backdrop where the percentage of millennials afraid to ride in those vehicles jumped to 64 percent from 49 percent year over year.

“While autonomous vehicles are being tested, there’s always a chance that they will fail or encounter a situation that challenges even the most advanced system,” Megan Foster, AAA’s director of federal affairs, said in the announcement surrounding the report. “To ease fears, there must be safeguards in place to protect vehicle occupants and the motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians with whom they share the road.”

In tandem with those remarks, Greg Brannon, the not-for-profit’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said: “Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety. Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

To that end, AAA said, it supports “thorough testing” of automated vehicle technologies, with an eye on progressively complicated driving scenarios and environments. AAA has also advocated for what it calls a “common nomenclature and classification system.”

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