From Our CEO
The Keys to Consumer Acceptance of Autonomous Vehicles
Along with today’s exciting advances in automated vehicle technology comes a crucial need for ensuring that all new technology is deployed safely and that drivers are well informed about the technology’s capabilities and limitations. As the motorists’ advocate, AAA plays a leading role in informing members and consumers about the effectiveness of these emerging technologies through our ongoing unbiased testing of advanced driver-assistance systems, such as automatic emergency braking, as well as our AAA Engineering and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research, which explores how these new technologies can help reduce or prevent crashes.
Since consumer education is essential to a future transition to more self-driving vehicles, AAA is committed to providing relevant information on evolving technologies. With that in mind, AAA has been conducting research since 2016 to understand consumer attitudes toward these technologies. Our most recent survey, released this spring, found that 71 percent of respondents are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles. Their concern is not surprising considering that self-driving experiences and exposure are limited and that technologies are still evolving, and recent news of some high-profile automated vehicle incidents has showcased safety gaps and affected public perception.
On a positive note, however, AAA’s survey found that respondents are receptive to the idea of automated vehicle technology in more limited applications. In fact, 53 percent are comfortable with low-speed, short-distance forms of transportation such as automated people movers found at airports and theme parks, and 44 percent are comfortable with fully self-driving vehicles for delivery of food or packages. So, despite some consumer apprehension, these results show that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating automated technology into their lives. Hands-on exposure in controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education is key to easing fears about self-driving cars.
While most experts agree that a fully self-driving fleet is still decades away, it is likely that more highly automated vehicles will be on the roads in the coming years. It is our goal at AAA to ensure that you, as members, understand both the benefits and limitations of the continually advancing technology that is paving the way for more sophisticated, fuel-efficient and safer vehicles on the road ahead.
Chief Executive Officer
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 edition of AAA World.