Reasons why driverless cars are a big worry for majority of British drivers | Cars | Life & Style


A new study found two in three people would be uncomfortable travelling in a driverless car at speed.

The news follows last week’s announcement that convoys of driverless lorries are to be tested on major British roads next year.

 The findings show younger people are more willing to accept driverless technology – with 45 per cent of 25 to 36 year-olds saying they would be comfortable in a 70mph driverless car, compared to just 13 per cent for 65-74 year olds and 8 per cent for the over 75s.

Women tended to be more cautious about the technology, with 72 per cent saying they would be uncomfortable compared to 60% for men.

The survey among 2,000 people by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found one in two rate humans as better drivers than computerised cars, despite nine in 10 UK road accidents caused by driver error. 

The poll also showed a reluctance from the public to allow people who are sight-impaired to be the sole occupant of a driverless car – with just 23 per cent saying this should be allowed.

There was also very little acceptance for people who are over the drink drive limit being responsible for a driverless car, with just 12 per cent saying this would be acceptable.

Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The benefits of driverless technology are huge. 

“Not only could the technology help save hundreds of lives, but there are estimates that the overall UK economic benefit could be as much as £51 billion a year due to fewer accidents, improved productivity and increased trade.

“The government and manufacturers have big ambitions for the future of driverless cars, but there is still a long way to go in terms of public approval.

“This study shows the majority of people would be uncomfortable being a passenger in a driverless car travelling at speed and that older people and women are particularly wary.

“Driverless technology has been touted as improving accessibility for all, but the survey showed strong reluctance for a sight-impaired person to be the sole occupant of a driverless car. 

“Given the huge benefits to this technology it is vital government and manufacturers develop a public campaign with more demonstrations and user trials to build awareness and trust in this technology.

“Driverless technology demonstrator vehicles should be trialled on city roads, allowing people to get first-hand experience of these vehicles in action.

“These cars could be a particularly eye-catching colour and their presence on busy city roads could help make people more aware of, accustomed to nd accepting of the technology.”

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