Survey finds public trust in self-driving cars declined after fatal crashes

May 22, 2018

Consumer confidence in self-driving cars is on the decline, according to a new survey. Nearly three-quarters of 1,014 Americans polled by AAA last month said that they’re afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.

Willingness to ride in a self-driving car dropped from 64 percent late last year to just 49 percent of millennials—those aged 20 to 37—surveyed. Millennials have been the most eager to try out new technologies in previous surveys. Nearly 80 percent of baby boomers indicated that they are afraid of riding in a self-driving vehicle.

MORE: The 5 levels of self-driving cars explained

About two thirds of the survey's respondents regardless of age said that they don’t even want to share the road with autonomous vehicles because they would feel unsafe doing so.

Two separate fatal crashes in March involving a self-driving Uber test vehicle that struck a pedestrian in Arizona and a Tesla Model X operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode that crashed and trapped its driver inside in California appear to have dampened enthusiasm for self-driving cars.  

Even with the negative survey results, consumers seem to understand the promise of autonomous vehicles, as 55 percent said that they would want their next vehicle to have semi-autonomous technology that could prevent their vehicle from colliding with another.

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