Americans Hold Split Opinions on Driverless Vehicles
October 04, 2017

As cars and trucks move toward a more autonomous future, Americans are highly polarized as to whether to accept or reject them on the road, according to a study by American International Group.

Safety of the vehicles, including the risk of hacking, are key concerns among respondents, while ease of driving and lower insurance premiums are seen as compelling benefits.

Sharing the Road

41 percent of survey respondents are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing the road with driverless vehicles, while 42 percent are generally ok with it.

Respondents were asked to select up to three perceived benefits of driverless vehicles. The most appealing benefits include:

■ Easier/less stressful transportation (44 percent)

■ Increased road safety (42 percent)

■ Lower insurance costs (39 percent)

Cybersecurity Concerns

A major stumbling block to acceptance is the perceived security of the vehicles, with 75 percent of respondents expressing concern that fully driverless vehicles, and even autos with autonomous features (emergency braking, lane departure avoidance, etc.), are susceptible to hackers taking control.

67 percent worry that a cyber breach could expose personal data the vehicle may acquire, such as credit card information, when and where drivers travel, and Internet connections made from the vehicle. Even information such as whom the driver had in the vehicle and the potential for private conversations to be recorded registered as concerns.

Safety Benefits

A plurality (39 percent) believes driverless vehicles will operate more safely than the average human driver, though a substantial 27 percent felt they would not.

When respondents were asked whether fully autonomous vehicles would operate more safely than they drive, 31 percent said no. The results show fairly even opinions among Americans about the safety benefit of driverless vehicles.

When Will We See Driverless Vehicles on the Road?

While most understand driverless vehicles are coming, respondents don’t believe they will be on the scene anytime soon. On average, Americans surveyed think it will take 22 years for driverless vehicles with no active input from human drivers to represent more than 20 percent of the vehicles on the road and that it will take 34 years before the autos make up the majority of vehicles in the US. The most significant factors cited as delaying or preventing the wide availability of driverless vehicles include (respondents could select up to three options):

■ Costs will be too high (55 percent)

■ Computer systems won’t be adequately secured (41 percent)

■ People enjoy driving too much (41 percent)

■ The vehicles won’t be safe enough (35 percent)

Read Will Liability Shift with Driverless Vehicles?, featuring more info from the AIG study.

Methodology: AIG’s Autonomous Vehicle Insights study was conducted August 17-24, 2017 in partnership with McLaughlin & Associates and Pinkston Group. The online study includes responses from 1,000 adults in the United States with an accuracy of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.