Commentary

Driverless Cars: Youngsters Don't Want Them Either

Adults are hardly clamoring for self-driving cars and now it turns out that the generation behind them isn’t either.

The majority of American youths, most of whom are still too young to drive, would rather do the driving themselves, when the time comes.

And the closer they get to driving age, the more they want to control the vehicle themselves, based on a new study.

The majority (63%) of youngsters would prefer to do the driving rather than letting the vehicle handle the task, according to the survey of 1,100 U.S. youths aged 8 to 18 conducted by Harris Poll for Nielsen.

And the older a person gets, the more they want to drive themselves. Here’s the breakdown of preferences for a vehicle that the person can control themselves:

  • 54% -- Elementary school (grades 3-5)
  • 59% -- Middle school age (grades 6-8)
  • 72% -- High school (grades 9-12)

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And as they start to get behind the wheel legally, most (77%) current youth drivers prefer to do the driving themselves.

This is not to say that youngsters don’t appreciate the idea of self-driving cars. The majority of all ages in the study see self-driving cars as something only rich people can afford. But 43% of elementary and middle school studies see them as ‘insanely cool.’

Where the self-driving car comes from almost makes no difference to youngsters, with 76% interested in them coming from a vehicle manufacturer and 70% from a technology company, such as Apple, Google or Microsoft.

Youngsters are not alone in their view of autonomous driving. A recent study by Kelley Blue Book found that most adults don’t expect to ever own a driverless car, as I wrote about here at the time (Driverless Cars: Majority Don’t Believe They Will Ever Own One; 60% Millennials).

At least the majority (57%) of young Americans are aware of self-driving cars.

As you might expect, the higher the age, the higher the awareness. For example, 40% of elementary school aged youths are aware, 53% of those in middle school age and 70% of those in grades 9 to 12.

It looks like marketing will reside somewhere between awareness and adoption.

There may be a lot of space there.

9 comments about "Driverless Cars: Youngsters Don't Want Them Either".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 22, 2016 at 10:04 a.m.

    At the risk of repeating myself, it's about safety. No one clamored for airbags or seatbelts either. The insurance companies will have the final say eventaully: Pay higher premiums for driving yourself.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston replied, March 22, 2016 at 10:04 a.m.

    *eventually

  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 22, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.

    That may utimately be the case, Douglas, but may take some time to validate the claim. One major accident and you can imagine the press coverage.

  4. Robin Jewsbury from Promoht, March 22, 2016 at 11:28 a.m.

    This article is fairly pointless.  It's not a surprise young people like the idea of driving themselves.  Self Drive cars will affect the taxi industry first - it will be the end for the human taxi driver.  In the longer term the ownership of cars and driving of them will be for the rich and all ordinary people will not own cars and will use these driverless taxis - young people may well be the biggest users of these taxis especially if they are drinking.

  5. John Berard from Credible Context, March 22, 2016 at 11:28 a.m.

    The "one major accident" argument holds because there is so little done, you will pardon the plug, in context.  What about the accident that happened just now or just now or just now or, well uou get the point.

    Yes, insurance companies will have a lot to say, but so will the growing cohort of people who can't (the young, the barred) or won't (the diffident, the elderly, the infirm) drive. As Baby Boomers get older and older (I feel it every day!), getting behind the wheel is less appetizing, but they still have places to go.

    Can't do everything online.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 22, 2016 at 11:50 a.m.

    Guess we will see over time if your driveless taxi prediction comes to fruition, Robin. The point of the article was to convey the results of the firsts known study of the viewpoints of younger peope on self-driving cars. 

  7. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, March 22, 2016 at 11:51 a.m.

    Right, John, there was in California already widely reported recently.

  8. Rick Short from INDIUM CORPORATION, March 22, 2016 at 12:22 p.m.


    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”― Henry Ford


    "Motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of accident death among teenagers, representing over one-third of all deaths to teenagers." - CDC


    In essence, this is teenagers begging to maintain the leading cause of their deaths.


    Cooler heads need to prevail.


  9. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 22, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

    And that precisely is one side of the argument, Rick.

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