Are U.S. Drivers Really Ready For Self-Driving Cars?

A recent study revealed that U.S. drivers are not that interested in self-driving cars, yet. Researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute conducted a survey among drivers to determine their preferences about riding in self-driving vehicles. The survey received 505 responses.

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Survey results
The main findings from the survey include the following:

  • About 44% of the respondents didn’t want any form of autonomous technology in their vehicles.
  • Female respondents preferred no self-driving (47.6%) while male respondents preferred partially self-driving (41.2%).
  • Respondents want to be able to manually control self-driving vehicles when desired.

How many accidents have self-driving cars been in?
In a similar study done by the same researchers, it was concluded that the expectation for zero accidents with self-driving vehicles is not realistic. However, during test runs, self-driving vehicles have been in 12 minor accidents, none of which were the self-driving car’s fault. That’s over a six year period, since 2009, with more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving combined. That being said, some people believe that when conventional and self-driving vehicles share the road, safety might worsen, at least for the conventional vehicles. This is because human error still exists in conventional cars.

One of Google’s self-driving car accidents
In July 2015, a crash involving one of Google’s self-driving cars injured three employees. The accident happened when a high-tech, camera-equipped Lexus was hit while at an intersection in Mountain View, California. The light at the intersection turned green, but if the self-driving car went, it’d be blocking the intersection. Therefore, it didn’t go. The car behind it, however, only saw the green light and rear ended the self-driving car. The Google employees were taken to a local hospital where they were treated for minor whiplash while the driver of the other car complained of neck and back pain.

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Why is Google creating self-driving cars?
Since 2009, Google has been working on fully self-driving technology where the self-driving vehicle performs all the work of driving, without any human intervention. The company believes that the full potential of this technology will only be met when a vehicle can drive itself from one place to another. They want it to be as easy as pushing a button and not only benefit current drivers, but also those who are unable to drive at all.

As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I’m all for technology that will improve road safety and driver convenience. Two years ago, I hoped this self-driving car trend would serve its purpose of reducing fatalities and increase mobility for people with disabilities. However, up until now, I am not sure about completely embracing autonomous driving. For the meantime, let’s remain focused on the road as we drive and continue practicing safe driving habits.

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