When it comes to the safety of self-driving cars, reports of traffic accidents, like the one in early 2018 involving an Uber self-driving car that struck and killed a women in Arizona, are still extremely sporadic and far from the norm. Nevertheless, such crashes (which at times produce a fatality) may be the reason that fear of the technology is still widespread among Americans, even if the danger is not.
The American Automobile Association, or AAA, brought out the results of a study Friday showing that while you still can’t buy a fully self-driving car in the US, the general public there is still pretty wary of them. In fact, 71 percent of respondents to the AAA study admitted they would definitely be afraid to ride in one.
The same study done by the AAA prior to most of the latest self-driving car accidents revealed a bit lower percentage of Americans acknowledging a fear of them (63 percent). “It’s hard to say, but it’s possible that the sustained level of fear is rooted in a heightened focus, whether good or bad, on accidents involving these types of vehicles,” AAA director of automated engineering Greg Brannon said in a statement.
“Also, it could simply be due to a fear of the unknown.”
Speaking of the known vs. unknown, the AAA survey goes on to note that as drivers are acclimated to some of the advanced driver assistance systems many cars are equipped with today — and which are considered a foundation on top of which self-driving technology can be built — their comfort level increases. In fact, the AAA’s recent survey found that “regular interaction” with such components as lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking has a significant effect on decreasing fear of self-driving technology.