Majority of Americans believe driverless cars are unsafe, survey finds

Updated Feb 10, 2016
This Lexus RX450h is just one of the car’s in Google’s fleet of autonomous test vehicles.This Lexus RX450h is just one of the car’s in Google’s fleet of autonomous test vehicles.

The thought of being driven down a highway by a computer inside your car still worries most Americans. Autonomous vehicles are coming in the next few decades, but the majority of folks aren’t quite ready for the future, a new poll has found.

According to the poll from Morning Consult, 51 percent of nearly 2,000 registered voters polled said that they would not operate a driverless car. Only 25 percent of those polled said they wouldn’t even go for a ride in an autonomous auto, while another 24 percent said they didn’t know or care.

The poll found that 43 percent of people said driverless cars are not safe, and another 25 percent said they didn’t know or care.

But, as is the case with most new innovations, the younger generation of voters are far more willing to let the car do the driving.

Of all of the age groups, people aged 18-29 were the only range where more people thought driverless cars were safe. Upwards of 45 percent of those aged 18-29 said driverless cars were safe, and only 33 percent said they were unsafe.

While 30-44 year olds were significantly more split than those over 45, 40 percent still said driverless cars are unsafe compared to 37 percent of those who disagree.

The dissonance isn’t just among age groups, either. Women are much more skeptical of the safety of driverless cars than men. Only 21 percent of women said driverless cars were safe, whereas 44 percent of men thought so. And just 16 percent of women said they would actually ride in a driverless car compared to the 36 percent of men who said they would.

Most registered voters also feel pretty set in their opinions of driverless cars.

More than 60 percent said they wouldn’t be likely change their minds in the next decade. And it’s obvious safety is everyone’s first concern. The poll found that more than 70 percent of people said that they were concerned about glitches in the driverless cars, road safety and having driverless and traditionally operated cars on the same roads.