Are Massachusetts residents ready for self-driving cars?

While self-driving cars have been in development for a while now, recent research indicates that consumer trust of these vehicles may be dwindling.

Traditional car manufacturers and technology giants alike have been in a virtual race to get completely self-driving cars on roads in Massachusetts and throughout the country.

As the development of these vehicles progresses, consumers must decide whether or not they are ready to hand over their driving privileges and responsibilities to computers. Studies have been done that track the opinions of drivers about their willingness to do this and how safe they feel autonomous vehicles really are or might be.

People are concerned about safety

According to The Driver, a survey conducted by Deloitte shows some concerns among consumers when it comes to autonomous vehicles. Out of more than 22,000 surveyed, close to three quarters indicated that they do not feel autonomous cars are actually safe.

Consumers are willing to be flexible as 68 percent of respondents said that if companies could prove the safety of autonomous vehicles, they would be willing to trust in the technology. What exactly it might take to prove such safety is not fully known , however.

Brand trust and industry matters

In the research, consumers showed a preference for strong brand trust with more than half of respondents indicating that having the backing of a trusted brand could make them more like to trust a self-driving car.

At the same time, when asked about their preferences for an autonomous car that was built by a traditional car manufacturer versus one built by a technology company, it was the traditional car maker that came out on top. About one fifth of people said they would feel good about a self-driving vehicle built by a technology company. That compared to close to half of people saying they would prefer such a vehicle built by a traditional automotive manufacturer.

Interest in individual safety features

While overall trust of completely autonomous cars has a way to go, there was relatively strong support for and interest in specific features that leverage autonomous driving technology. Those features of most interest to drivers were ones that directly affected the safety of a vehicle.

In the 2017 J.D. Power and Associated Tech Choice Study, drivers indicated they trusted and would want features like self-adjusting headlamps, mirrors with cameras and emergency braking and steering systems. The interest was so strong that consumers said they would even be willing to pay more for a vehicle if it had such features.

With safety a clear priority for drivers, people in Massachusetts should also make receiving compensation after an accident a priority, especially when an accident is caused by another person's negligence. Talking to an attorney after a crash is always recommended as this can help people learn how to pursue appropriate compensation.