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Half of Brits fear driverless cars

Reports of collisions causing road users to steer clear

Google driverless car

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.

Widespread concerns

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.

Insurance costs

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.”

What do you think of driverless car technology? Take our poll or leave a comment below.

  • Murray Snudge

    Great for getting home after a few pints!

  • Francis Mulhearn

    To be honest, I struggle to see the difference between calling a taxi, or calling a driverless car, both get the job done, in fact as a cyclist, and motorbike, a car that won’t try and pull out in front of me, is a good thing.

  • Francis Mulhearn

    Of course taxis don’t usually have day old kebabs under the back seat, or a boot full of fast food wrappers, who gets to clean the driverless car????

  • Mike paradise

    No way. I don’t trust computers at the best of times so I ain’t putting my life in their diodes

  • Mark Nixon

    Just think of the immense advantages that driverless cars would bring to blind and partially sighted people, and other disabled people, in terms of independence and general mobility.

  • Zariq

    Mate it is going to be lots of trouble on the road.

  • Nick Rs

    If any of you fly on a commercial airliner, you will almost certainly rely on computers to get you off and back on the tarmac, especially in thick fog!!! I think the problem is that a lot of people like to drive. Thats fine, but I think that “driving” will become a hobby we do round a circuit, rather than on a road with variable competence. this is coming, and the advantages will be paramount. Car ownership will also change, there won’t be the need for cars to sit on the drive, you’ll just book the transport when you need it from your phone, perhaps through a subscription service. No more road tax, servicing nonsense. No more worrying about Mr Plod’s interpretation of your effort to drive correctly. Ultimately it will be the next generation who will be open minded enough to think outside of the box. The reduction in accidents will also reduce pressure on emergency services…. the possibilities are boundless. Open your minds.

  • Gareth Day

    What would be the correct etiquette if you were the sole passenger in a driverless taxi and it was involved in an accident? 😉

  • Dave D

    Safer than being driven by a lot of the drivers on the roads today texting and phoning while they are supposed to be concentrating on driving.