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Why Isn’t Everyone Riding In A Self-Driving Car Already?

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Self-driving vehicles promise a great future with lower transportation costs, less congestion, and fewer accidents. Yet for most Britons, the aspect of driving along cars that are fully computer operated seems like a science fiction movie. Can a car really transit from one place to another, safely and with the ability to make decisions as a human? As it turns out, most Britons don’t think so.

A study carried out by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety shows that about 54% of UK consumers have huge concerns regarding sharing roads with driverless cars. Furthermore, researchers have found out that technology is part of the problem. Generally, 27% of Britons don’t trust AI to perform work, particularly because most of them are used to doing the work themselves.

Although self-driving cars have the potential to remove risks such as drunk driving, distracted driving, drowsiness, and speeding, many people still do not trust these vehicles. This is because technology isn’t perfect yet, and there are some regulations in place to guarantee public safety. Twitter analysis of driverless cars showed that about 20% of tweets opined that driverless cars are still in the experimental phase and mentioned pilot states such as Arizona and California.

Accidents Caused By Self-Driving Cars Hurt The Industry

Stories about self-driving car fatalities and crashes cause lots of mistrust amongst consumers. Staying out of self-driving vehicles does not allay these concerns, as 64% of the Advocates survey respondents said they are still concerned about driving alongside self-driving cars. Nevertheless, such fears might be overblown.

According to the road tests conducted in California, crashes involving driverless cars are 10 times more than the traditional cars. Nonetheless, 88% of such accidents result from cars driven by humans crashing into driverless cars. Although alternative vehicles might cause temporary disruptions with people becoming more accustomed to sharing roads with robots, they aren’t at fault for many accidents. Also, if an accident happens, the Alternative Vehicle (AV) manufacturer Tesla says their test result shows that Model X passengers and drivers have about 99% chance to survive with no serious injuries.

Perhaps considering the small nature of many AV crashes, along with the promise to substantially reduce accident rates, the US Congress most recently proposed exempting self-driving vehicles from the existing federal safety standards.

To speed up the adoption of Alternative Vehicle technology, a few manufacturers want to be in a position to deactivate controls such as the gas and brake pedals and the steering wheel when a car is in self-driving mode. Nonetheless, many UK drivers aren’t yet ready for autonomous cars.

This might be partly driven by the need for more control. A study conducted by The Advocates found that about 75% of users said that they aren’t comfortable with vehicles with inoperable safety systems. In the same way, an Esurance survey conducted in 2018 showed that 83% of drivers could not imagine surrendering responsible driving, even if this meant a more comfortable commute.

Safety Regulations Will Help Build Trust

Today, the auto market has an opportunity to choose whether to approve “voluntary guidelines” offered by the Transportation Department, but currently, there are no compliance requirements.

To quickly gain more trust, manufacturers of self-driving cars should not wait for new laws to add more safety features. As a matter of fact, the implementation of new technology before the Transportation Department acts will be a great Public Relations move. If AV manufacturers like Tesla work together with legislators to create safety standards for the new technology, they might foster a good environment where transparency gains more public confidence.

In the coming days when self-driving cars become a new normal, Britons will start trusting self-driving technology if they see legislators create rules and guidelines designed to ensure they are safe. Manufacturer compliance and increased safety regulations will ultimately result in acceptance and more adoption.

Chris Valasek, a security researcher currently working for the General Motors driverless cars division Cruise, says that the possible benefits of self-driving cars significantly outweigh the risks. Valasek says self-driving cars don’t drink, don’t look at Facebook while driving and cant drive tired!

With the addition of more safety standards, it will only be a matter of time before people starts trusting self-driving cars.

References

Driverless cars. (n.d.). BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c90ymkd8lglt/driverless-cars

Bellon, T. (2020, June 5). Self-driving sector contends its cars can prevent many more crashes than insurance study says. U.S. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-selfdriving/self-driving-sector-contends-its-cars-can-prevent-many-more-crashes-than-insurance-study-says-idUSKBN23C2T7

Driverless cars go humble to get real. (2020, October 26). The New York Times – Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/26/technology/driverless-cars.html

 

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