Autonomous vehicles and the need for consumer education

Many people in New Jersey may well have read or seen stories about the development of fully autonomous vehicles. Some people may even have seen a self-driving car in action.

Supporters of autonomous vehicles tout the safety benefits over vehicles operated by humans. The average consumer, however, appears quite wary of these vehicles.

Recent studies highlight low consumer trust

According to Government Technology, a study conducted in 2018 by Cox Automotive found that a mere 16% of respondents indicated a willingness to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle. That number was believed to be higher when the study commenced but dropped before completion.

The World Economic Forum reported on results from two other sources that also found very low consumer trust for self-driving cars. A 2017 study by AAA found that 63% of people were afraid of riding in a self-driving vehicle. Two years later, trust did not improve but actually declined with 71% of people indicating they would be afraid to ride in an autonomous vehicle.

In a poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, two out of three respondents said they would not buy a self-driving car and one out of two believe autonomous vehicles are less safe than vehicles driven by humans.

Consumer education is needed

Some experts believe the path to increasing consumer trust and eventually, adoption of autonomous vehicles is through education. Much of the work related to these vehicles thus far has focused on the technology alone and ensuring it can work. Shifting some of the emphasis now to the overall consumer experience and understanding of how the self-driving cars function may go a long way toward making people feel safe enough to trust them.