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Are you afraid of riding in a driverless car?

AAA conducted a survey last month to determine what North Americans thought of autonomous vehicles. The survey results showed that 18 percent of American drivers were terrified of self-driving cars and 24.8 percent of drivers wouldn't even ride in one. Meanwhile, 10 percent of drivers would feel safer with driverless vehicles on the road, and 54 percent would feel in danger.

Age seems to be a factor when it comes to acceptance of self-driving cars. People in their early 30s and below have a higher likelihood of wanting a driverless car. Seventy percent said they would buy one. As for baby boomers, though, only 51 percent said they would purchase such a vehicle. It seems that the older you are, the less likely you would be to ride in a car driven by a computer. Also, when deciding between a fully automated vehicle and one with manual control options, 95 percent of drivers prefer one with manual controls.

Being afraid of self-driving cars is normal. For example, some drivers are afraid that someone could hack into their vehicle controls and cause their car to crash. Others are afraid of lag times between the moment a driverless car asks for manual intervention and the moment the human driver can assume control. Then, there's the simple fact that computers might not be as effective at avoiding collisions as human drivers in certain circumstances.

There are serious questions about car accident liability when it comes to a driverless car. Who's at fault for an accident? Are the creators of the self-driving car and its software to blame, or is it the human rider who failed to take control in a dangerous situation? Right now, the driver would be to blame in most car accident scenarios, and injured victims could hold the driver financially accountable for costs and damages. However, driverless cars bring new legal questions to the table, and it may take time for courts to work through these issues.

Source: The Detroit News, "Car Culture: Many Americans fear self-driving cars," Phil Berg, March 30, 2017

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