Increased mobility leads autonomous vehicle benefits, finds poll

A majority of Americans (52%) believe that the most important benefit of autonomous vehicles will be increased mobility for non-drivers.

That’s according to a new survey of consumer attitudes to autonomous vehicles, which also found that slightly more than half of those polled (52%) consider themselves familiar with autonomous vehicles, while nearly two-thirds (63%) are concerned about the privacy of data generated by autonomous vehicles.

The survey, Sharing the Road with Autonomous Vehicles-2019, by infrastructure company HNTB, found that 58% of those familiar with autonomous vehicles believe they will be commonplace on US streets within 10 years.

At the same time, 57% of this group said they would be willing to ride in an autonomous vehicle, while a small majority (51%) believe self-driving vehicles are safer than those with human drivers at the wheel.

“As we become more knowledgeable about, and comfortable with, autonomous vehicles, people will begin to recognize and value the economic and social benefits offered by these technologies,” said Jim Barbaresso, HNTB’s intelligent transportation systems national practice leader and senior vice president.

“For example, people who are disabled or elderly and unable to drive themselves, will experience the freedom and convenience of mobility. Autonomous vehicles will help improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles. And they offer the promise of more effective management of roadway congestion.”

Asked how they would plan to spend time while travelling in an autonomous vehicle, two-thirds of respondents (66%) said they would be most likely to look out of the window.

Texting or talking was the next most likely activity cited by those questioned (42%), followed by watching movies or playing games (29%). A quarter of those polled said they would sleep, while just under a fifth (17%) said they would use the time to work.

“The thought that people will be more productive during their ride in an AV may not come to fruition,” said Barbaresso. “Instead, it appears that most people will use that time for leisure purposes.

“Nevertheless, the freedom offered by autonomous vehicles could have impacts on urban design and residential life. For example, traditional housing patterns may be disrupted if people decide to live further from their jobs because rather than driving, they can use their commuting time for other things such as communicating with others, entertainment or work.”

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