Not too long ago it seemed like something out of a science fiction novel: cars…
According to a recent report by the American Automobile Association, 73% of Americans consider themselves to be above average drivers. That means that nearly two-thirds of the population is confident in their driving ability, despite the fact that over 90% of all accidents are caused by human error.
Regardless of how confident the public is in their own abilities, however, the numbers don’t lie: our own mistakes are largely to blame for crashes. But what if we could remove the human variable from the equation? According to studies, this could – in theory – drastically reduce the number of traffic fatalities each year.
And that’s just what companies like Waymo, who this week began a public test pilot for their latest batch of self-driving cars, are banking on: “Our goal,” according to Waymo, “is to transform mobility by making it easy and safe for people and things to move around. We’ve committed to developing fully-self-driving vehicles because we believe that this is safer and better for everyone.”
Although self driving cars have the potential to revolutionize traffic safety, the American public has been slow to accept the idea. Yet according to AAA Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations Director Greg Bannon, public opinion is rapidly evolving: “Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self driving vehicles. Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride.”
While 63% of Americans still say they would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, that number is down considerably from just one year ago, when over 78% of Americans reported discomfort at the thought of trusting their car to do the driving for them.
Despite the general feeling of trepidation (46% of the population say they would actually feel less safe sharing the road with driverless vehicles), more and more Americans are warming to the idea, particularly amongst millennials. And as companies like Waymo continue to put more autonomous cars on the road, public acceptance is only likely to grow with increased exposure and experience.