Will driverless cars reduce accidents? UK motorists aren’t convinced

Although 90% of crashes are attributed to human error, a new survey has found that only a quarter of UK residents (27%) believe driverless cars will improve road safety.

The research by insurer AXA also found that only a third of survey respondents believe driverless cars will be better for the environment, while just a quarter believe they will improve pedestrian safety.

"We need to educate motorists on the benefits of autonomous vehicles because consumer trust will be vital to their success."

David Williams, AXA UK

AXA’s findings follow a recent survey by Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research that found that more than 70% of drivers believe it is already possible to buy a car that can drive itself.

The insurer said that the findings highlight the confusion surrounding driverless cars and the self-driving capability of the vehicles already available.

Although fully driverless cars aren’t yet available, millions of drivers use autonomous technologies such as cruise control, lane assist and self-parking every day – often without realising, said AXA.

The insurer noted that three-quarters of the drivers surveyed didn’t think they had ever used cruise control, despite it being widely available in modern cars.

However, drivers do believe that these technologies are helping road safety, with 61% saying cruise control has already improved road safety and 82% and 71% saying the same about lane assist and parking assist technologies, respectively.

At the same time, 84% of those surveyed believe that Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which the EU is pushing to be installed as standard in all new vehicles, will improve road safety.

To help explain autonomous technologies to motorists, AXA has produced a video that highlights where self-driving technologies fall on the six-point scale set by SAE International.


AXA UK video explaining the different levels of autonomous technologies.


“Driverless cars will revolutionise transport for the better, making our roads safer but also creating mobility solutions for people who are unable to drive,” said David Williams, Technical Director at AXA UK.

“It is not surprising however, that new technology can be confusing and even lead to scepticism. What is clear, is that we need to educate motorists on the benefits of autonomous vehicles because consumer trust will be vital to their success.”