AAA: Today’s Vehicles Must Walk So Self-Driving Cars Can Run
Motorists say improving current vehicle safety systems takes priority over developing self-driving cars
According to AAA, if automakers aim to improve public acceptance of self-driving cars, the key might be to fine-tune existing vehicle technology. AAA’s annual automated vehicle survey finds that only 22% of people feel manufacturers should focus on developing self-driving vehicles. The majority of drivers (80%) say they want current vehicle safety systems, like automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance, to work better and more than half—58%—said they want these systems in their next vehicle.
These findings signal that people are open to more sophisticated vehicle technology, which, if they provide positive experiences for drivers, will open the road to self-driving vehicle acceptance.
“Vehicle safety features have come a long way, and they still have room to improve,” says Mike Hoshaw, vice president of automotive services, AAA East Central. “Focusing on perfecting these technologies presents automakers with a confluence of improving user experience now, and setting the stage for safer technologies later.”
Nearly 96% of 2020 vehicle models came equipped with at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning or lane keeping assistance. Consumers who buy new will likely have at least one type of vehicle safety system, and in many cases, this could be their first interaction with more advanced vehicle technology.
Previous AAA research has found that some systems, particularly those that provide the highest level of automation available to the public, do not always work as expected. These negative experiences could influence driver opinion of future vehicle automation. It also reinforces the need for manufacturers to continue to hone vehicle technology by expanding testing and focusing on including more real-world scenarios encountered by drivers.
Still Lukewarm about Self-Driving Technology
For 6 years, AAA’s annual automated vehicle survey has gauged consumer sentiment regarding emerging vehicle technology, focusing on self-driving vehicles. While American’s interest in owning a car with more advanced technology grows, they are still struggling to warm up to the idea of full vehicle automation. AAA’s survey found that 14% of drivers would trust riding in a vehicle that drives itself, similar to last year’s results. However, 86% either said they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle (54%) or are unsure about it (32%).
Self-driving vehicles are still years away from being available to consumers. However, as testing on public roads expands, drivers will likely interact with various levels of new vehicle technology. The public should also find opportunities to educate themselves on when and how self-driving vehicles will be a part of daily life. A collective effort by both industry and consumers is what it will take to move the needle away from apprehension and closer toward acceptance.
About the study: The survey was conducted January 15-17, 2021, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,010 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 73 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.