Majority ‘would get the jitters’ in self-driving cars

10.02 | 9 July 2019 | | 7 comments

The motor industry has a ‘big job ahead’ in convincing drivers that self-driving vehicles are safe, according to IAM RoadSmart.

A new survey carried out by the motoring charity suggests more than 70% of people would not feel safe travelling in a fully self-driving vehicle.

Three-quarters of respondents (75%) disagreed that autonomous vehicles should ‘always be in ultimate control’, while 90% believe the driver should be able to take over if necessary.

The majority (82%) disagreed that ‘all human drivers should be banned from driving on the roads once fully autonomous vehicles are widely available’.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “It’s clear from the results of our survey that the motor industry has a big job ahead in convincing drivers of the safety virtues of self-driving vehicles. 

“While on paper they offer significant advantages in eliminating human error from collisions, there is a lot of confusion, misinformation and an over-abundance of terminology which has made the public distrustful of it.”

The survey also shows that 44% of respondents felt ‘poorly or very poorly’ informed on autonomous vehicles – with only 6% feeling ‘very well informed’. 

Neil Greig added: “There needs to be an industry-standard on the acronyms and product names used, and car companies need to come together, alongside government, to ensure the facts out there are clearer and easy-to-understand.”


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    Keith’s comment reminds me of the same thought I had many years ago after seeing a sci-fi movie in the 90’s I think was called ‘Demolition man’. I seem to recall a scene where the perpetrator escaping from the law, stands in front of an autonomous car causing it to brake suddenly so he can hijack the vehicle!

    The powers that be are forcing AV onto the world with the idea that ‘Computer is good – human is bad’ but the problem with some human drivers is not so much lack of ability but a negligent attitude!

    Joe M, Sefton
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    From the screen in the car shown in the above photo “Slow-moving vehicle detected – Performing Automatic Overtake”! Enough to put me off getting in one.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    Having worked for companies who designed, developed and manufactured computer controlled industrial machinery for over 50 years, I have seen more than a few “That shouldn’t have done that” moments. Not all of the incidents were subsequently explainable either.

    Autonomous vehicles will inevitably have ‘Boeing 737 Max’ moments but there’s more than just software to go wrong with AVs. I wonder just how many and how serious these moments would need to be to pop the bubble of the fully AV dream.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    The hype for fully autonomous vehicles is like a science fiction film trailer. Eventually reality will catch up but it will be in small steps not the leaps and bounds we are reading about. Self cancelling indicators, automatic gearboxes, lights that come on in darker situations and even windscreens which detect water and start the wipers and more already exist and we have taken them in our stride. Sometimes they do go wrong though! Lets move slowly with parking assist, then lane control, then adaptive cruising as level 1 vehicles should be able to do. Maybe as the article suggests the terminology is wrong and we need more levels. Maybe people just want to be in control as in life generally. Over the years the PC brigade have changed our behaviour but we see the good in this and every small step can be a milestone. lets not forget that 50 years after putting someone on the Moon we are nowhere near Mars but that hype is with us. Of course people are scared of the unknown so we need to engage and encourage. Where can I go to try a fully autonomous vehicle? Where can manufacturers send customers to try them and them show what is already capable in the showroom albeit the small steps?

    Peter Wilson, Chichester
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    Of course it is not the top of anyone’s concerns. No more than it is for anyone who gets attacked until after the event.

    A bit like RTC’s and fatalities as its not going to happen to me.

    Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

    I doubt if Keith’s scenario is top of many people’s list of concerns over autonomous vehicles.

    I get the (collision) jitters now when being driven by anyone and I don’t think that would change in an autonomous vehicle.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    Can fully appreciate the safety benefits from the introduction of autonomous vehicles in all their forms.

    However, what are the implications with regard to the safety of passengers. Clearly the benefit of auto theft of an autonomous vehicle will be removed.

    But what about the implications of increased opportunity of hijacking and theft or threat of assault. If autonomous vehicles are designed to stop and avoid pedestrians, it will not be long after introduction that certain elements of society see them as an easy opportunity.

    In a remote area at night step out in front of a car and it will stop – then someone stands behind and a third simply caves in the side window and offers threats to the occupant.

    I dare say there will be the usual disagreements, but it will happen.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

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