According to most reasonable estimates, self-driving car technology is always about five years away from being good enough for everyone to use. That perpetual state of ambiguity might be helpful, though. According to a recent Pew survey, most people in the U.S. aren’t ready for them yet.
Impressively, according to this survey by the Pew Research Center, 94% of Americans have at least heard about self-driving cars, with 35% saying they’ve heard “a lot” about them. Yet, not everyone is thrilled to hear the news. A slight majority of 56% of Americans say they would not want to ride in a driverless car, largely due to trust issues. 42% of people who don’t want to ride in a driverless car say they “Don’t trust it” or are “Worried about giving up control.”
This isn’t terribly surprising since news stories about self-driving cars are everywhere, but hands-on experience with them is only possible in a few states for most people. Even among those who get first-hand experience, concerns still remain. Driverless cars have an impressive track record that can rival some of the safest drivers, but they’ve yet to be tested in the wild as much as human drivers have. That fact alone is enough to give some people pause. A majority of people, it would seem.
This trust barrier creates a problem for self-driving cars even if they could maintain a perfect safety record. Companies from Google and Tesla to Ford and Volkswagen are all trying to develop this technology as fast as possible, but it won’t matter much if the majority of the public isn’t willing to allow them on the road.
Source: Pew Research Center via City Lab
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