The Government is heavily backing autonomous vehicle technology, pledging to invest more than £20million to get self-driving cars on the roads. It’s been a year since driverless car trials were given the go-ahead in the UK, meaning they could be a common sight on the roads in the next few years.
But despite the enthusiasm of the authorities, half (49%) of Brits questioned in a uSwitch survey would refuse to be a passenger in a driverless car.
The survey of over 3,000 adults found that 49% do not trust driverless cars to make nuanced decisions in a difficult driving situation, and 20% are worried that the vehicles could stop suddenly or drive too slowly.
Road users are also concerned about software security issues, with 45% worried the software could be vulnerable to data breaches, leading to their personal data being compromised.
Reports of crashes are doing nothing to help the situation — in September Google revealed its autonomous car (pictured above) had been involved in 16 collisions while testing. However, the company stressed that the car had driven millions of test miles and claimed all the accidents occurred when a driver was in control or as a result of being hit by another vehicle.
After hearing of these reports, two-thirds (66%) of respondents to the uSwitch survey said they are now more concerned about the technology than before the trials began.
Our research also found that drivers are concerned about the effect the technology will have on insurance. Two fifths (41%) are worried that their insurance costs could skyrocket with driverless cars on the roads – even if they don’t drive one themselves. Just 15% believe the technology could help to reduce their premiums.
As driverless car technology is in its early stages, there is little indication as to what effect it will have on insurance costs. Details are expected to emerge as more manufacturers get involved with the technology and the legislation is clarified around driverless cars and their place on the roads.
Eliminating human error
Despite the widespread concern about driverless cars, not all road users are against driverless technology. In our survey, 44% of respondents felt that autonomous vehicles could make the roads safer by removing human error, which is estimated to contribute to 90% of all road accidents.
Almost a third (30%) think driverless cars will make their lives easier, and almost a quarter (24%) think they could be the solution to traffic jams.
Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch, says: “While the Government is motoring ahead with its driverless car plans, these could be put into reverse gear if consumers’ concerns aren’t addressed. Whether it’s confronting Google car collisions or clarifying confusion around liability in the event of a crash, cautious consumers have a number of worries.
“If Britain is to become the world leader in driverless car technology, the Government, manufacturers and the insurance industry must address consumers’ concerns head on.”
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