70% of UK drivers would not feel safe in a driverless car, finds poll

A new survey by a UK road safety charity has found that more than 70% of drivers would feel unsafe in a fully self-driving vehicle. Only 4% of those surveyed said they would feel ‘very safe’ in a car with no driver input.

The poll, by IAM RoadSmart, also found that more than three-quarters of respondents did not agree that the vehicle should ‘always be in ultimate control’, with 40% saying they were strongly against the idea.

Indeed, more than 90% of those polled believe that the driver should always be able to take over from a self-driving car should they need to.

“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,” said the charity’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig.

“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.”

Those questioned by the charity were also wary of a future without human drivers, with more than 80% disagreeing with the suggestion that human drivers should be banned from the roads once autonomous vehicles become widely available. 

At the same time, respondents were hesitant about handing over control to an automated vehicle, with two-thirds expressing concern about vehicles taking over more and more functions previously controlled by the driver. 

The charity called for the car industry and government to work together to improve people’s understanding of autonomous vehicles.

“Some 44% of our respondents felt poorly or very poorly informed on autonomous vehicles with only 6% feeling very well informed,” said Greig.

“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.”

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