UK motorists not warming to idea of driverless cars

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Related: Google’s new driverless cars involved in just 11 accidents so far

As the likes of Google and Apple forge ahead with extensive road testing of their bespoke autonomous vehicles, latest research here in the UK won’t exactly fill those tech companies behind their concept and manufacture with optimism when they learn that nearly 50% of motorists here in Britain aren’t what you might call sold on the idea just yet.

In fact, the 49% of (2,000) drivers in question (and who responded to a survey rolled out by Continental Tyres) freely admitted that they pretty much mistrusted the concept of driverless cars, whilst 20% went a step further by confirming that the very notion of self-driving vehicles frightens them.

These findings are in keeping with our own driverless car survey last year, which found that most UK motorists are ‘concerned’ about the safety of driverless vehicle technology.

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In honesty this won’t exactly be what the companies behind autonomous vehicles wish to hear (although they’ve still got plenty of time to think of ways of winning detractors over between now and such cars going into mass production).

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Nevertheless they’ll still appreciate that they’ve got their work cut out to persuade dissenters that driverless cars are the future of passenger/personal transportation and a viable, cost-effective and above all else, safe option which everyone should consider the merits of.

As it happens it’s this all-important safety issue which causes UK drivers the most concern it would appear.

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A significant percentage of UK motorists say they would find it difficult to look beyond the more obvious hang-ups they have from the outset.

It could take a lot to win over sceptical British drivers about positives of autonomous vehicles

These fears centre round as yet unresolved safety aspects which autonomous vehicle pioneers like Google and Apple can’t realistically give worried parties a definitive answer on at this juncture and so afford critics the peace of mind they’re looking for, prior to judging such vehicles on their other pros and cons.

In terms of the huge question marks which still hang over the advent of driverless vehicles appearing on British roads, and Continental Tyres’ study discovered that 51% of those holding serious reservations about autonomous cars’ potential were also concerned with technology failing which would directly pre-empt vehicle breakdowns, while to reiterate the points made earlier, a figure of 49% they found it ostensibly impossible to engender any trust in a self-driving car with 20% expressing their fear of them per se.

When engaged further on their views regarding what might be achieved if and when driverless cars eventually break cover and become a routine sight on UK roads, 25% were of the opinion that both automotive and technology companies at the vanguard of autonomous vehicles were guilty of using hyperbole when describing what might be possible. Seizing on certain pockets of scepticism, spokesperson for Continental, Mark Griffiths (when asked for his firm’s response to the findings) was keen to point out that British motorists were simply rating safety as their number one priority in this instance, saying; “There are very exciting times ahead with the advent of automated technology, though with any advance comes concerns.”

However it wasn’t all overly cautious responses or perceived negativity about the concept of driverless cars, as the ‘Top 10 Advantages of Autonomous Driving’ (created in the aftermath of the research and listed beneath) strongly hinted at.

  • Road safety
  • More efficient/reduced journey times
  • Less concentration required
  • Reduced insurance costs through fewer accidents
  • Opportunity to use a mobile phone
  • Opportunity to use tablet/laptop
  • Opportunity to eat in the car
  • Opportunity to read in the car
  • Increased mobility for non-drivers
  • More productive use of time