Majority of American Drivers ‘Afraid’ of ‘Self-Driving’ Cars

Responses to a AAA survey indicate a rising fear of automated vehicles in the wake of high-profile crashes and federal investigations.

1 minute read

March 3, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Dark blue Tesla with crumpled front bumper on rainy highway with red fire truck in background

canadianPhotographer56 / Tesla vehicle involved in crash

An annual survey from AAA reveals that American drivers are “increasingly apprehensive” about self-driving vehicle technology, with 68 percent of respondents saying they fear the emergent tech. That number is a 13 percent jump from 2022, showing a “dramatic decline in trust” after a series of high-profile crashes in the last year, which also led to California banning the term ‘full self-driving’ and federal officials to issue a recall of over 300,000 Tesla vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles and ‘self-driving’ technology have received wide criticism for being deployed recklessly, including from San Francisco transportation officials and federal regulators.

According to a AAA press release by Brittany Moye, confusion about autonomous vehicles stems in part from the marketing language used by carmakers. “AAA found that 22% of Americans expect driver support systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself without any supervision, indicating a gap in consumer understanding.” Nearly one in ten “believe they can buy a vehicle that drives itself while they sleep.”

The press release clarifies that fully self-driving vehicles, which do not require human involvement, “are not available for purchase by consumers.”

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