Autonomous cars not trusted by consumers

As the prospect of self-driving cars on the roads moves from concept to reality, two studies highlight growing consumer distrust.

In Colorado and around the country, drivers have been watching the development of autonomous vehicles for the past few years. While the technology companies and automotive manufacturers that are racing to get these vehicles to market tout viability of the technology and the improved safety that they may offer, it appears consumers are not so convinced.

In fact, two studies conducted in 2017 show that not only do many people in the U.S. not trust autonomous vehicles but fewer people trust them today than did a year ago.

How trusting are baby boomers of autonomous vehicles?

Edmunds reported that in the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Tech Choice Study, a whopping 81 percent of baby boomers reported that they would probably not trust or would definitely not trust a fully self-driving vehicle . This represents the views of people born between 1946 and 1964 who would now be between 53 and 71 years old.

In another study conducted by the MIT AgeLab and the New England Motor Press Association, WBUR.org indicated that in 2016, 19 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 and 14 percent of respondents aged 65 to 74 felt comfortable with fully autonomous vehicles. In the same study this year, those numbers dropped to 12 and 10 percent, respectively.

How willing are younger drivers to trust self-driving cars?

In the 2017 J.D. Power study, 11 percent more Generation Z respondents indicated that they would definitely not trust autonomous vehicles than in the prior year. This generation represents people born between 1995 and 2004 who would currently be between 13 and 22 years old.

In the 2016 MIT study, 26 percent of drivers between 16 and 24 and 40 percent of drivers between 25 and 34 said they would trust autonomous vehicles. In the 2017 study, those numbers dropped to 14 and 20 percent, respectively.

Are people not worried about safety?

In both studies, people indicated a great interest in specific features that leverage autonomous technology to improve safety but while retaining human control over driving. Things like auto park, automatic braking, lane assistance technologies and adaptive cruise control were all things drivers said they would be interested in and would even be willing to pay extra for.

So, while consumers are clearly concerned about improving their safety on the road, they do not generally seem to feel that handing over all control to a computer when behind the wheel is the way to do that.

Anyone in Colorado who is involved in an accident with a vehicle that may have some autonomous features or even be fully self-driving should discuss their options with an attorney. This can help them understand how to navigate insurance claims and seek compensation.