Two thirds of motorists say they’re unsure about the merits of driverless cars, while four in ten state that they would never even consider driving one, according to a survey from road safety charity IAM. Opinion regarding such vehicles being restricted to driving within the speed limit is split right down the middle – half of motorists polled say it is a positive feature, but half see it as a drawback.
The finding that most people who actually drive cars are dubious about that task being given to a machine is perhaps understandable - for those who are most attached to their vehicles, it's presumably a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.
The poll of 1,111 motorists comes at a time when development of the technology is gathering pace – as we reported last month, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that paves the way for self-driven cars to take to the state’s roads, while a vehicle being developed by Google has passed 300,000 miles in testing without mishap.
Professor Garel Rhys, who heads up Cardiff University’s Centre for Automotive Industry Research has said because the majority of road traffic incidents are due to, self-driving cars would lead to roads becoming safer.
Despite that, only one in three respondents to IAM’s survey believed that taking away human interaction would improve road safety, and three quarters said that instead of trying to improve automotive technology, it would be better to focus on ways to encourage safer driving habits among motorists.
Simon Best, chief executive of IAM, said: “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.
"Of course technology has a huge role to play in road safety, but as long as there are cars on the road people will want to drive them. What we need to aim for is first class drivers operating first class vehicles.”
Other findings of the research include:
Around half of respondents (500 of 1,088) feel that driverless cars are a good initiative for the future.
Half of motorists don’t think that driverless cars will become popular.
56 per cent do not think there is a possibility that driverless cars will be the norm
within the next ten years.
98 of 1,088 people think that driverless car technology is irresponsible.
22 per cent of respondents would use a driverless car.
Over half of motorists think that automated systems should take control to prevent a crash.
92 per cent of people like the fact that with driverless car technology, the car behind would not be allowed to drive too close to you.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.