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Poll: Most Americans Concerned About Driverless Cars

We’re not quite sure yet about driverless cars, many of us. Others are sure – sure they don’t want them. 

David Royse | LedeTree

A poll conducted of more a thousand adults last month found continued widespread concern about sharing the road with driverless vehicles. It’s the third poll in under two years that shows most Americans still don’t trust cars without drivers.

The survey found that 64 percent of Americans polled were “concerned” about sharing the road with autonomous cars, compared to 34 percent who said they were unconcerned about the coming of driverless cars. The poll was commissioned by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a group made up of insurers, public health organizations, and safety and consumer groups, that promotes highway and auto safety.

“Advocates recognizes and supports the potential for driverless cars to help reduce needless crashes, deaths and injuries,” the group said in releasing the results. “However, missteps, mistakes, or setbacks involving driverless cars will hamper public acceptance and consumer confidence in this technology and risk progress.”

While it’s the third poll in less than two years to show more than half of Americans haven’t gotten comfortable with the arrival of autonomous cars, they’re getting close to hitting the road.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Uber says it plans to carry passengers in driverless cars – without backup drivers – by sometime next year.

“Once we can check that box, which we call passing the robot driver’s license test, that’s when we can remove the vehicle operator,” Advanced Technology Group leader Eric Meyhofer said in an interview with AP at an auto industry investors conference in Detroit. “We’re going aggressively too.”

Driverless cars are already being tested, both on test tracks and on public roads. Uber has been doing both, in Pittsburgh, for example. It first tests cars in an enclosed “city” it built at an old steel mill site, and then tests them in certain parts of the actual city of Pittsburgh, including downtown. It’s still using backup drivers, though.


Waymo, owned by Alphabet’s Google, is testing driverless cars on public roads in the Phoenix area without human backup drivers already. Last week, it started testing driverless Chrysler minivans in San Francisco.

An October survey by Pew Research found that 56 percent of those polled said they wouldn’t ride in a driverless vehicle. And a 2016 Kelley Blue Book Survey found nearly 80 percent who said a driver should always have the option to drive themselves and almost one out of three said they’d never buy a car that could operate autonomously.

The December poll found that most Americans want additional safety standards developed for features on driverless cars and more than 8 in 10 support the government coming up with some cybersecurity rules to protect cars from hackers.

 

About David Royse

David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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