AAA: ‘Apprehension’ Up Over Autonomous Vehicles

An annual consumer survey conducted by AAA concerning autonomous vehicles indicates that, while there is still a “high level of interest” in partially-automated vehicle technology, attitudes toward fully self-driving vehicles have become increasingly “apprehensive.”

[Above image via AAA]

AAA said its 2023 survey discerned a “major increase” in drivers who are “afraid” of fully-autonomous vehicle technology; jumping to 68 percent as compared to 55 percent in 2022.

As a result, AAA believes automakers must be “diligent” in creating an environment that promotes the use of more advanced vehicle technologies in a secure, reliable, and educational manner – which includes the “consistent” naming of vehicle systems available to consumers today.

Greg Brannon. Photo by AAA.

“We were not expecting such a dramatic decline in trust from previous years,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive research for AAA, in a statement. “Although with the number of high-profile crashes that have occurred from over-reliance on current vehicle technologies, this isn’t entirely surprising.”

AAA conducted its 2023 survey January 13-17, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall, with most surveys completed online. A total of 1,140 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older, of which 949 qualified for the study.

Even with advancements made in recent years, AAA said its survey findings suggest improvements are still needed to build public trust and knowledge surrounding emerging vehicle technology. There is also a need to dispel confusion around automated vehicles as well.

AAA said its survey found that nearly one in 10 drivers believe they can buy a vehicle that drives itself while they sleep. Currently, there is no such vehicle available for purchase by the public that would allow someone to fully disengage from the task of driving.

This perception could stem from misleading or confusing names of vehicle systems that are on the market. AAA found that 22 percent of Americans expect driver support systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself without any supervision, indicating a gap in consumer understanding.

Still AAA said its poll also found consumers aren’t entirely opposed to advanced vehicle technology. In fact, six in 10 U.S. drivers would “definitely” or “probably” want these systems in their next car purchase.

“AAA seeks to partner with automakers to create greater consistency across the industry,” Brannon noted. “Together, we can help consumers understand the type of technology their vehicle has along with how, when and where to use these systems, which will ultimately build trust in the vehicles of the future.”

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