Automakers Have Uphill Battle Regarding Self-Driving Cars

Technology is grand; it makes life easier in so many ways. But many of us aren’t willing to give up control. 

Despite mounting evidence that they will prevent accidents and free up time that can be used for relaxing or working, 18% of people say they are terrified of self-driving cars. Terrified. Not apprehensive, not undecided, but terrified. 

Klashwerks polled 3,116 car drivers via SurveyMonkey between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6. The margin of error is +/- 1.9 percentage points.

The survey looked at a variety of issues concerning driving, but this statistic stands out, given how much money and effort is being put into developing this technology by automakers. 

“To me, the most surprising insight from the survey is the fear and lack of knowledge that the car owners have about self-driving vehicles, connected cars and the growth of automation,” says Russell Ure, CEO of Klashwerks. 

Other answers regarding self-driving cars were: 44.6% said they need more information on them before they can decide, 19% said they're “cool” but they would never purchase on, 12.5% said they think they are hype and we’ll be waiting for a long time for them. Only 4.6% said they would be purchasing one ASAP and 1.6% said they’d never heard of them. 

Even riding in them makes people nervous with 24.8% saying they would not ride in them and 37.1% saying they aren’t sure at this point. Seniors are the most reluctant group when it comes to self-driving cars, at only 26.3% saying they would ride in them, compared to 38.2% of the general population.

Another interesting stat is that while over a third of drivers have connected cars, only a quarter realize it. Drivers say they are afraid of car technology, but they already have it and are likely using it without even thinking much about it. The warning that you get when there’s someone in your blindspot, the beeping your vehicle makes when you are following too close to the vehicle in front of you? That’s smart car or connected technology.

“These findings suggest that there is much to be done educating auto consumers on revolutionary trends and benefits in this market,” Ure says. “Automotive marketers bear a lot of responsibility making sure they educate and not overhype new technologies which are starting to emerge and not lose sight that many people remain apprehensive about these changes.”

Other findings from the survey indicate there is a large amount of “multi-tasking” while driving, which would make automated cars even more of a help since multi-tasking in the current vehicles can lead to distracted driving and accidents. 

Of those surveyed, 87.5% says they listen to music, 50% talk on the phone, 49.6% listen to the news, 33.51% sing out loud carpool-karaoke style and 17% admit to sending and reading text messages. More disturbing: 7.3% says they send and read emails while 4.9% browse the internet and social media.

“Semi-autonomous features may be susceptible to misuse,” Ure says. “There’s a very large demand for multitasking while driving and this should be a red flag for any manufacturer who assumes that drivers will always remain vigilant even when their driving workload is greatly reduced. More accidents will occur because people over-trust the level of automation these features offer for their cars.”

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