A majority of buyers may want to put the brakes on driverless cars

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At a time when it seems many groups are enthusiastically pushing for driverless cars, an important one is not so sure.

Car companies, tech companies, insurance companies, and government agencies seemingly can’t say enough about how driverless cars will reduce accidents, save money, and result in more efficient transport. The promise is autonomous cars will get us there faster, safer, and cheaper. Consumers who responded to a recent University of Michigan driverless car survey, however, aren’t buying it. For the most part, consumers aren’t interested in totally driverless cars and close to half would just as soon forget about such technology entirely, according to Reuters.

Perhaps it’s the vaunted 100-plus year American love affair with the automobile or maybe people don’t trust technology. “The most frequent preference for vehicle automation continues to be for no self-driving capability,” said the study’s authors, Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak.

The survey released this week follows an earlier survey the University of Michigan conducted in July 2015. The results are about the same. In the more recent polling, 46 percent preferred cars with no self-driving capability, 39 percent favored partial self-driving features, and only 15 percent wanted totally driverless cars. In the earlier survey, when asked about the extent of driverless features preferred, the numbers were 43.8 percent in support of none, 40.6 percent favoring partial, and 15.6 percent in favor of totally driverless features. There’s very little change between the surveys that were taken 10 months apart and, significantly, during a time when driverless cars have been in the news often.

Another factor that drew similar responses in the two Michigan surveys is the almost unanimous preference for cars that have steering wheels, gas pedals, and brakes. Even for those who are in favor of totally self-driving cars want to be able to take over and control the direction and speed of the car. In the F

Fear is also a factor. In a AAA  survey published in March 2016, three-quarters of those surveyed stated they felt too afraid to ride in a self-driving car.

The forces of change in favor of driverless vehicles may be impossible to stop, but it seems unlikely consumers are going to get on board anytime soon. Lacking personal experience in autonomous cars or testimonials from those they trust, most people are likely to continue to doubt.


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