A Majority of U.S. Drivers Still Don’t Trust Self-Driving Cars

January 24, 2018, 6:53 PM UTC

Fears about riding in a self-driving vehicles are beginning to wane with millennials leading the way, according to an annual study released Wednesday by American Automobile Association. Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride.

However, the majority of U.S. drivers are still afraid of giving control to an AI-powered vehicle or feel safer sharing the road with self-driving vehicles.

And that’s largely because 73% of those surveyed consider themselves better-than-average drivers, despite the fact that more than 90% of crashes involve human error. Men, in particular, are confident in their driving skills with 8 in 10 considering their driving skills are better than average, AAA says.

Curiously, the number of drivers who want semi-autonomous driving systems—features that help avoid crashes such as automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, self-parking technology, and adaptive cruise control—has dropped. According to the survey, 51% of U.S. drivers want semi-autonomous vehicle technology in the next vehicle they buy or lease, down from 59% in early 2017.

Here are the major takeaways from the study, which gathered its findings using two probability samples: randomly selected landline telephone numbers and randomly selected mobile phone numbers. The combined sample consisted of 1,004 adults (18 years old and older) living in the continental United States.

  • 63% of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle compared to 78% who felt that way in early 2017.
  • Millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.
  • only 13% of U.S. drivers report that they would feel safer sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle
  • 46% would feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle. Others say they are indifferent (37%) or unsure (4%).
  • 73% of women are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle compared to 52% of men who have the same fear.

Millennials might be the most trusting of self-driving vehicles, with only 49% (down from 73%) reporting that they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car. However, baby boomers have shown the most progress. The majority of baby boomers (68%) are still afraid to ride in a self-driving car. But just a year ago 85% of this generation had the same fears.