The new poll has been released by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and shows that people understand the concept and the benefits of driverless cars, but they just don’t trust them yet.
The poll was commissioned after concerns were raised by several advocacy groups following the announcement of new bills that will be voted on by the United States Congress shortly. These measures will put in place the rules for government oversight, not only concerning manufacturers but also safety on the roads. Many in Congress have pointed out that those on the floor simply do not have the expertise to be able to predict issues and dangers – especially when it relates to potential terrorist activity through driverless vehicle hacking.
64% of poll respondents said they were concerned about sharing the road with autonomous vehicles. Also cited in the poll were other regional polls that seemed to marry up with the existing data.
Questions were also asked about the safety exemptions that Congress is considering (these include manufacturers being able to turn off safety features in a vehicle that is being operated by computer) and a resounding 75% said they were, “not comfortable with this.”
Interestingly, 84% of respondents said that they would support rules that meant driverless vehicles required and alert human ready to take over if needs be. This would mean a driver’s seat being occupied, and a driver still paying attention to the road and any potential dangers.
And here, they could be onto something.
You see, the data is undeniable – people do not completely understand and/or are afraid of autonomous vehicles. While years of research and billions of dollars have been spent on driverless car research and testing, there have been enough crashes and system errors to make any reasonable person cautious. Although there will undoubtedly be ridiculous amounts of safety protocols in place, that will do little to ease the stress experienced by other drivers on the road when they see a car driving on its own. By mandating that a driver must be in the driver seat and watching the road, Congress has the opportunity to make autonomous vehicles a bit more, “normal.”
At least for a while.