Survey Reveals Americans Are Afraid Of Self-Driving Cars

Technology / 7 Comments

But they're also not totally against it.

A new survey released by AAA shows more Americans are becoming afraid of self-driving vehicle technology. The results are interesting and a wake-up call for automakers and autonomous vehicle companies like Waymo and Cruise.

68% of respondents indicated they are afraid of driving in a self-driving vehicle, an increase on 55% from last year's study. This 13% difference is the biggest increase since 2020. The AAA surveyed roughly 1,000 people.

"We were not expecting such a dramatic decline in trust from previous years," said Greg Brannon, director of automotive research for AAA. "Although with the number of high-profile crashes that have occurred from over-reliance on current vehicle technologies, this isn't entirely surprising."


The survey revealed another critical piece of information: serious misconceptions about autonomous vehicles. One in ten American adults surveyed thinks they can buy a new car that drives itself while they sleep. Obviously, that's not true, and this clearly reveals a marketing problem automakers need to resolve quickly.

Respondents further indicated the name carmakers have given their self-driving systems are problematic. How so? They think they can fall asleep at the wheel. It's just not Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving creating confusion.

Volvo's Pilot Assist and Nissan's Pro Pilot were also singled out. All of these systems are rated at Level 2, meaning drivers must still have both hands on the steering wheel at all times, ready to assume complete control at a moment's notice. Only Mercedes-Benz has officially achieved Level 3 to date, and it's only been approved for use in Nevada.

The tech will only be available on two high-end and pricey models, the 2024 S-Class and the 2024 EQS Sedan.


A total of 22% of respondents believe driver support systems with names like those have the ability to drive the vehicle by itself with zero supervision.

There's clearly a major communication failure here. However, Americans indicated they're not totally against self-driving vehicles. The survey showed that six in ten US drivers would "definitely" or "probably" want these systems in their next car purchase. That's undoubtedly good news for automakers in the long haul, but much work still needs to be done.

AAA's survey comprised 1,140 interviews with US adults aged 18 and over. 949 individuals qualified for the study, which was done via phone from January 13-17, 2023. The study's margin of error was 4.3% at a 95% confidence level.

Stephen Brashear for Cruise

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