First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
Three-quarters of UK residents do not believe driverless cars will improve road safety, even though 90% of accidents are caused by human error.
In a survey of 2,000 respondents, insurance firm Axa says only a third of UK residents believe driverless cars would be better for the environment and only 25% think the technology will improve safety for pedestrians.
Axa emphasises that motorists are confused by the definition of a driverless car as well as by what sort of autonomous technology is available in modern vehicles.
This confusion remained after survey respondents were shown the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels – a set of standards designed to explain the requirements for increasing driver assistance and autonomy.
Only a third of respondents define a driverless car in accordance with SAE Level 5 - a vehicle which can make informed decisions and does not require a driver to take control in any situation.
One in 10 people think a fully-driverless car has one form of autonomous technology, such as steering, speed or braking control – but this is SAE Level 1.
A quarter of respondents are unaware of cruise control, while 75% of drivers do not believe they have ever used this form of technology.
Despite this, six out of 10 people think cruise control has already improved road safety, with respondents feeling the same way about lane assist (82%) and parking assist (71%). More than 80% of participants believe that autonomous emergency braking, a solution which the European Union is calling to be made standard in all new vehicles, will also improve road safety.
David Williams, Axa technical director, says he is not surprised by the confusion surrounding new technology: “What is clear is that we need to educate motorists on the benefits of autonomous vehicles (AVs) because consumer trust will be vital to their success.”
Last month, Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP, a European safety organisation, revealed that 71% of UK drivers believe AVs are already on the market – and that nearly 20% think that a car marketed as being capable of automatic steering, braking and acceleration allows them to relax and let the car do the driving.