Do Americans trust self-driving car technology?

Consumer trust for fully autonomous cars may be down from 2016 but interest in specific safety technologies may be growing.

As the potential for Pennsylvania residents to be sharing the road with fully autonomous cars gets closer to fruition, it is important to get a sense of how safe these vehicles really are and how much trust there really is among American consumers.

Two different studies in the past few months took a look at precisely this to get a sense of where drivers in the U.S. stand on this emerging technology.

Many consumers demand more proof of safety

The Driver reports that a Deloitte survey polled roughly 22,000 drivers across 17 countries. Of those drivers in America, a whopping 74 percent are said to have indicated that they do not consider self-driving cars safe. However, 68 percent of respondents indicated that if manufacturers could prove the safety of these vehicles, the drivers would trust it.

Trust appears to be a big issue as 54 percent of people said that they would ride in an autonomous vehicle if it was produced by a brand they trusted.

More trust car makers than technology companies

In the same survey, 20 percent of people said they would trust technology firms to develop and manufacture autonomous vehicles. Car manufacturers appear to be preferred as 47 percent of people said they would trust these companies to produce self-driving cars.

Individual features more trusted that fully autonomous vehicles

For the third year in a row now, J.D. Power and Associates has conducted its U.S. Tech Choice Study. This research measures consumer views on automotive technology . Interestingly in the 2017 study, the amount of American consumers who trust fully self-driving cars went down in every group with the exception of those people born between 1977 and 1994. Even among consumers born between 1995 and 2004, the level of trust declined.

However, while more Americans may be wary of autonomous cars, support for some safety-specific technology features may be increasing. Among the most popular features are cameras on rearview mirrors, emergency braking and steering systems and automatic adjusting headlights.

Consumer willingness to pay extra for superfluous features such as digital keys or those related to entertainment or connectivity was much lower. It appears that drivers are more focused on safety rather than simple convenience.

Accidents may have shaken trust

It may well be some accidents involving self-driving cars in the last year that contributed to a decline in consumer trust for these vehicles. This reality highlights the fact that accidents can and do happen no matter who is operating a vehicle. When a Pennsylvania resident needs to pursue compensation after a crash, a conversation with a lawyer is recommended to learn the best way to do this.