Survey finds over 70% would get the jitters in a car that drives itself.

While the car industry invests billions into the development of self-driving cars, a survey by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has found that drivers have other ideas – with over 70% saying they would not feel safe travelling in one.

IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, asked more than 1,600 visitors to its website if they would feel ‘confident and safe travelling in a fully self-driving vehicle, where there is no driver input.’ Just over 70% would feel ‘unsafe’ or ‘very unsafe’ with only 4% feeling ‘very safe.’

In addition, three-quarters (75%) expressed some level of disagreement with the statement that the vehicle should ‘always be in ultimate control,’ with 40% strongly against it.

There was an overwhelming view that the driver should always be able to take over from a self-driving car should he or she need to. Over 90% of respondents agreed this should be the case.

Those surveyed were also very definite over a future where there is no human involvement in driving. When asked if they agree that ‘all human drivers should be banned from driving on the roads once fully autonomous vehicles are widely available,’ over 82% either ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed.’

A future where the car takes over more of the driver functions also didn’t fill those surveyed with joy.

When asked if they were ‘concerned about the progress towards a future where the vehicle takes over more and more functions previously controlled by the driver,’ two-thirds said they were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned.’

Even current technology in new cars does not fill some of those surveyed with confidence. When asked if they would be ‘comfortable using current technology features on many cars such as adaptive cruise control, lane-assist and self-parking’ more than a quarter (27%) said they would be ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘very uncomfortable.’

However, over 50% were ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ with using them.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “It’s clear from the results of our survey that the motor industry has a big job ahead in convincing drivers of the safety virtues of self-driving vehicles. While on paper they offer significant advantages in eliminating human error from collisions, there is a lot of confusion, misinformation and an over-abundance of terminology which has made the public distrustful of it.

“Some 44% of our respondents felt poorly or very poorly informed on autonomous vehicles with only 6% feeling very well informed. There needs to be an industry-standard on the acronyms and product names used, and car companies need to come together, alongside government, to ensure the facts out there are clearer and easy-to-understand.”

IAM RoadSmart is focusing on driverless technology, assisted driving and autonomous vehicles this month. To see our microsite full of information and resources click here: https://www.iamroadsmart.com/campaign-pages/end-customer-campaigns/a-is-for-autonomous