Research reveals reticence over driverless cars

20th November 2012

Despite the convenience factor, it seems that many motorists are not sold on the idea of driverless cars.

That is according to a poll conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), which showed that 40 per cent of respondents would not use a car which used technology to drive itself.

A further 65 per cent expressed doubts about the idea of driving without human input.

Just 22 per cent of those questioned said that they would use a driverless car, and 500 of the 1,088 questioned for the survey said they believed it was a good initiative for the future.

Most people felt that the priority should be to make people better drivers, rather than advancing motoring technology.

Of the 1,088 respondents, 815 said that improving driving should come ahead of refining cars.

IAM chief executive Simon Best has suggested that, for the moment at least, improving driver safety is the best way to reduce road accidents.

"The presence of driverless technology in every car is still many years away.  In the meantime, more should be done immediately to improve driver standards and deal with the most common human errors through better training, as well as incentives by the government and insurance companies", he said.

While many stopped short of suggesting driverless cars should be the future of motoring, a number of people could see the potential for technology to improve driver safety.

More than half of those questioned said that automated systems should take over if a crash is imminent.

One issue that seemed to unite drivers, and is clearly a potential hazard on the roads, is motorists who drive too close to the vehicle in front.

Some 92 per cent of those questioned said they were in favour of technology which could prevent the car behind driving too closely.

Despite some reticence over driverless cars, more than half of respondents – 56 per cent – said they believed that they may become the norm within the next decade.

In September, legislation was passed to allow driverless cars onto Californian roads.

Commenting on the decision, state governor Jerry Brown said "today we're looking at science-fiction becoming tomorrow's reality".

The governor admitted that the concept may make people feel "a little skittish" but he was keen to reassure would-be passengers that "they'll get over it".

Google co-founder Sergey Brin suggested that a "self-driving car can really dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone".

Anyone with doubts about the new technology may be comforted by his reassurance that "[he] expects that self-driving cars will be far safer than human-driven cars".

While IAM's chief executive agrees that "technology has a huge role to play in road safety" he believes that "what we need to aim for is first class drivers operating first class vehicles".

So although it seems there is some debate about what the future of motoring should look like, everyone is agreed that safe driving must be a priority for all of motorists.

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