Does anyone really want self-driving vehicles, survey asks

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles apparently have a long way to go before they are accepted by American drivers.

Regardless of the potential advantages of an autonomous lifestyle.

A survey of 1,034 people by CARiD, an aftermarket automotive parts retailer, suggests just how far.

“One of the strongest patterns to emerge is the seeming reluctance of drivers to surrender their ‘right’ or ‘privilege’ to drive,” said CARiD in a report on the survey.

And to own their vehicle, it appears.

Given a choice, three-quarters of Americans still would rather drive than ride autonomously and nearly two-thirds would rather own their “pod” than hire it like a taxi, the report said. And seven in 10 respondents would miss driving in a fully autonomous world.

One reason for such results may be safety concerns: A majority of survey respondents (53 percent) said they would feel “very” or “somewhat” unsafe riding in an autonomous vehicle.

“Proponents of autonomous driving have made much of the claim that safety will be greatly improved, with significant reductions in accidents, injuries and fatalities once all road vehicles are autonomous,” said the CARiD report. “[But] survey respondents have not necessarily embraced that vision.”

So when will Americans let go of their steering wheels?

“It may take one or even two generations before a skeptical public gets on board with driverless cars,” no matter how quickly the technology itself might be developing.

“Most people are not ready for it,” said CARiD, “and may not even want it.”

Ready or not, most respondents to the survey expect it to be a long, long time before the majority of vehicles on U.S. roads are autonomous, according to CARiD.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) don’t believe autonomous vehicles will ever take over the roadways, while another third (30 percent) think it will be 20 years. Even some of the more optimistic respondents believe it will be 10 years before autonomous vehicles make significant inroads.

“Regarding predictions about future implementation, the survey audience was taking a longer-term view than some [commentators] who see this technology as ‘around the corner,’” said the CARiD report. “Many people are more comfortable with the status quo.”

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