Americans plan to steer clear of self-driving cars

February 22, 2018

By some estimates, 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road worldwide by 2020; however, more than half of Americans (54%) say they plan to steer clear of using such vehicles, based on findings of a poll of 3,297 U.S. adults released by Northeastern University/Gallup on February 21.

Not only that, but 62% said they would feel at peril just sharing the road with such vehicles.

Men are just slightly less opposed to letting the car do the driving than women—at 50% of males who say it’s unlikely versus 58% of females.

And as is to be expected, the youngest among us are less negative about the vehicles than their elders, with those ages 18 to 35 coming in as 41% opposed; those 36 to 50, 49% opposed; those 51 to 65, 61% opposed; and respondents age 66-plus, 69% opposed.

The most receptive sector? The likelihood of a college graduate saying he or she would be willing to use a self-driving car is twice as high at 38% as it is for those without a college degree (19%).

What’s more, Americans are no more comfortable with autonomous trucks than they are with riding in self-driving vehicles themselves. More than six in 10 U.S. adults (62%) indicate that they either would be extremely uncomfortable or uncomfortable sharing the road with self-driving trucks, compared with 20% who would be extremely comfortable or comfortable doing so.

However, whether or not they personally use or ride in self-driving cars, Americans are almost certainly going to confront autonomous trucks on the highways in the future. Many companies invested more than $1 billion in 2017 alone into the development of self-driving trucks.

The introduction of self-driving trucks is viewed as posing less difficulty than self-driving cars because of their primary use on open stretches of road, and the trucking industry is seen as primed for automation.

Men are twice as likely as women to say they would be comfortable sharing the road with self-driving trucks, 28% vs. 14%.

With this degree of pushback, will self-driving vehicles be a success?

Americans have previously underestimated their potential adoption of new technology, Gallup said. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of U.S. adults said they would never get a cellphone in Gallup’s survey on the issue in 2000. In the decade and a half since, cellphones have become virtually ubiquitous. It is possible a similar pattern of adoption of self-driving vehicles may also occur.


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