Are self-driving vehicles really safe?

Consumer trust in autonomous vehicle safety is something of a rollercoaster that is currently at a low point, leaving companies searching for new ideas.

California is one of the states that is to some degree leading the way in the development of autonomous vehicles and the technologies that go into them. That, however, does not mean that every resident in the state trusts these vehicles. And, it may well be that a lack of trust is warranted as automakers and technology companies seem to have more work to do to prove that these vehicles really are safe.

The up and down road of consumer acceptance

According to Fortune, in early 2017 78 percent of consumers reported that they would be too fearful to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle. By later that same year, trust had improved as only 63 percent of consumers said they felt that way. However, by May of 2018, trust had waned with 73 percent of people indicate their fear of being passengers in self-driving cars.

The Verge adds that perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the latest AAA study is the drop in trust of these vehicles among millennials. This generation is largely considered to be the first to adopt new technology. In December 2017, 49 percent of them reported being too scared to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle. Five months later that number rose to 64 percent.

Human perception among the challenges

Car and Driver Magazine explains that despite the ability to be rational, human beings are and will always be emotional as well. Their perceptions will and do play into their ultimate decisions. When it comes to vulnerability in a vehicle, people feel safer when they are behind the wheel because of the control they sense they have. The feel more vulnerable as passengers which therefore increases their risk aversion, including riding in an autonomous vehicle.

Technology and laws need to mature

Two other issues that may be standing in the way of consumers accepting self-driving cars include the technology itself and the regulations, or rather the lack of regulations, surrounding this burgeoning industry and technology.

Bloomberg reports that in the absence of federal guidelines, states are left to their own devices to determine what standards they will hold autonomous vehicles and their automakers to. This can be difficult for the companies developing these cars but can also leave consumers in a bind if they are involved in an accident with a self-driving car.

As for the technology, things like challenges in distinguishing between a person and a light post, for example, may continue to make the average person hesitant to jump into a self-driving car any time soon.

While everyone waits to see what will happen on this front, accidents will continue to happen. People in California who need help after an accident regardless of what type of vehicle is involved should always contact an attorney.