Advanced Drivers Join Chorus Against Driverless Tech

Advanced drivers in the UK are just as suspicious of driverless technology as most motorists globally.

A survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has found more than 70% would be nervous in a car that drives itself. The study of nearly 1,700 mostly IAM members also found just 4% would feel safe in an autonomous vehicle.

In addition, three-quarters expressed some level of disagreement with the statement that the vehicle should ‘always be in ultimate control,’ with 40% strongly against it. There was an overwhelming view that the driver should always be able to take over from a self-driving car should he/she need to. More 90% of respondents agreed this should be the case. The study reflects similar research published earlier this year by Continental in a global survey of motorists.

Of the advanced drivers surveyed, they were also very definite over a future where there is no human involvement in driving. When asked if they agree that ‘all human drivers should be banned from driving on the roads once fully autonomous vehicles are widely available,’ more than 82% either ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed.’

A future where the car takes over more of the driver functions also didn’t fill those surveyed with joy. When asked if they were ‘concerned about the progress towards a future where the vehicle takes over more and more functions previously controlled by the driver,’ two-thirds said they were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned.’

Even current technology in new cars does not fill some of those surveyed with confidence. When asked if they would be ‘comfortable using current technology features on many cars such as adaptive cruise control, lane-assist and self-parking’ 27% said they would be ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘very uncomfortable.’ However, over 50% were ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ with using these ADAS features.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “It’s clear from the results of our survey that the motor industry has a big job ahead in convincing drivers of the safety virtues of self-driving vehicles. While on paper they offer significant advantages in eliminating human error from collisions, there is a lot of confusion, misinformation and an over-abundance of terminology which has made the public distrustful of it.

“Some 44% of our respondents felt poorly or very poorly informed on autonomous vehicles with only 6% feeling very well informed. There needs to be an industry-standard on the acronyms and product names used, and car companies need to come together, alongside government, to ensure the facts out there are clearer and easy-to-understand.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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