Motorists wary of driverless cars

12.00 | 23 November 2012 | | 3 comments

40% of motorists would never consider using a driverless car and 65% are sceptical as to whether driverless technology is a good idea, according to a poll by the IAM.

Driverless cars rely on radar, GPS and satellite to drive and navigate without the need for a driver to take control.

The IAM points out that Google’s driverless vehicle has so far driven a total of 300,000 miles without a collision. However, only one third of respondents to the poll agreed that this provides a strong argument that the removal of the human element from driving would benefit road safety.

815 of the 1,088 respondents believe that focus should be redirected from making cars better to making drivers safer, although around half of respondents feel that driverless cars are a good initiative for the future.

With the understanding that driverless cars would be unable to exceed the speed limit, respondents were split in acceding to whether or not this is an attractive quality.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “The presence of driverless technology in every car is still many years away. In the meantime, more should be done immediately to improve driver standards and deal with the most common human errors through better training, as well as incentives by the government and insurance companies.

“Of course technology has a huge role to play in road safety, but as long as there are cars on the road people will want to drive them. What we need to aim for is first class drivers operating first class vehicles.”

For more information contact the IAM press office on 020 8996 9777.


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    I can see the pros & cons for both cases. Ultimately I think we will see driverless cars being introduced (or at least, cars with the option to choose so that you can turn it on for long motorway drives), but my biggest concern would be how safely driverless & driver driven cars interact in the same space.

    Interestingly, the TRL did a great study into driver behaviour which showed just how big a role “social peer pressure” played on increasing / encouraging drivers to drive badly, so perhaps this could be a good way to reduce that trend from increasing, but it’s too early to say.

    As for me, personally I love driving too much to ever want to stop, but I’d be interested to give autonomous cars a go all the same.

    Kieran Thomas, ChilliBongo, Oxfordshire
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    Humans makes mistakes, bad judgements and take risks, it’s how we work. We get tired, emotional, ill etc. Removing the human input to most journeys would no doubt reduce collisions and injury. We’re fairly happy with planes that fly themselves, ships that pilot themselves and trains that have no driver at all (DLR) so why not cars? Driving is seldom a pleasure these days and for most it’s an unpleasant necessity. Car on ‘auto’ for the weekday commute, on ‘manual’ for weekend jaunts.

    Dave, Leeds
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    “Google’s driverless vehicle has so far driven a total of 300,000 miles without a collision”
    But how many collisions has it caused in its wake? From reports it seems it has created conditions that increase risk of collisions.

    Nevada’s Dept of Motor Vehicles Director Bruce Breslow said “It gets honked at more often because it’s being safe”.

    In my experience, safe cars do not get honked. Dangerous cars may get honked, as might over-cautious ones, but “being safe” is the language of a man in denial. There are far too many unanswered questions about driverless cars, not just when a system fails (as they inevitably will) but also when they operate as intended.

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
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