Three in four consumers excited about driverless cars and their benefits, finds new CTA study

- Two-thirds of consumers would like to swap their current cars for self-driving vehicles
- Driver-assist features enjoying sky-high popularity

Despite at least one recent study showing consumer hesitation towards driverless vehicles, new research has found that enthusiasm for self-driving cars is growing, with three in four consumers excited about the many benefits they offer.

The new Consumer Technology Association (CTA) report, Self-Driving Vehicles: Consumer Sentiments, also found that two-thirds of consumers would like to exchange their current car for a completely self-driving vehicle.

CTA's research found that consumers are particularly excited about the benefits of driverless technology – in particular its ability to: 

  • Reduce accidents caused by aggressive driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (82%)
  • Cut the cost of car insurance (80%)
  • Prevent up to 90% of driving-related accidents and injuries on U.S. roads (79%)
  • Increase the mobility options on offer for people with disabilities (78%)

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, said: "Clearly, drivers are getting more and more excited about everything that driverless cars will offer us – 90 percent fewer U.S. traffic accidents, 40 percent lower insurance costs, the end of drunk driving accidents and newfound freedom for seniors and people with disabilities.

If you asked Americans back in the early 1900s their opinions about daily transportation needs, they’d have said they wanted faster horses that ate less food!
— Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA

"The broad adoption of self-driving vehicles will save tens of thousands of lives each year in the U.S. alone, and deliver a level of independence and mobility that seniors and people with disabilities couldn't otherwise dream of enjoying."

When it comes to technology, existing driver-assist features are proving especially popular, with 93% of drivers who currently use these technologies saying they appreciate their usefulness. 

Almost all consumers (96%) like or love automatic parking-assist capabilities, while 94% feel the same way about collision avoidance systems, according to the research. Data alert systems also enjoy huge consumer support. 

Attracted by the potential of these driver-assist technologies, half of the drivers who do not currently have them say that they would like to upgrade.

"We don't have to wait for the benefits of self-driving cars to arrive – driver-assist technology is already saving lives, avoiding accidents and paving the way for completely driverless innovations still to come," said Shapiro.

"We should promote these technologies that help drowsy or inattentive drivers stay focused, or provide specific responses such as automatic braking and lane-drift avoidance – all of which are now available in newer model vehicles."

As enthusiasm for driverless technologies grows, the research found that 70% of consumers have a strong interest in testing a driverless car for themselves, in addition to the 62% who would like to replace their vehicle with a self-driving one. 

These figures contrast with a recent poll that found that 51% of consumers would like to retain full control of their vehicles, even at the expense of safety.

“Consumer interest in the early stages of this rapidly emerging technology shows great optimism for our driverless future,” said Shapiro. 

“Generally, consumers become more comfortable with innovations as the benefits become more apparent, erasing their initial concerns. 

"If you asked Americans back in the early 1900s their opinions about daily transportation needs, they’d have said they wanted faster horses that ate less food! That’s why our research is so encouraging for driverless technology.”

Brian Markwalter, senior vice president, research and standards, CTA, said: "Our study confirms enthusiasm for self-driving cars is certainly growing – consumers want to see for themselves just what these driverless innovations have to offer.”

Driver-assistance features already on the market may be sparking this excitement, said Markwalter, "as more drivers experience the safety and convenience these new features provide."

CTA carried out the consumer sentiment study in July 2016, using an online sample of 2,001 U.S. adults who had driven a car or truck in the previous month.