Self-driving cars face a long road to becoming transportation’s future

Self-driving cars are the future of transportation. According to some reports, 10 million vehicles will hit the road by 2020.

They’ll ferry passengers from place to place, like driverless taxis. They’ll transport packages and raw materials from city to city. And they’ll deliver groceries, meals, and packages to homes and apartments across the country.

But for all the optimism surrounding autonomous cars, there’s an equal amount of skepticism — and concern.

In a pair of surveys published by the American Automobile Association in January and Gallup in May, 63 percent of people reported feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle and more than half said they’d never choose to ride in one.

Those sentiments haven’t changed much. Three separate studies this summer — by the Brookings Institution, think tank HNTB, and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) — found that a majority of people aren’t convinced of driverless cars’ safety. More than 60 percent said they were “not inclined” to ride in self-driving cars, almost 70 percent expressed “concerns” about sharing the road with them, and 59 percent expected that self-driving cars will be “no safer” than human-controlled cars.

That’s despite the fact that about 94 percent of car crashes are caused by human error and that in 2016 the top three causes of traffic fatalities were distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding. According to the National Safety Council, Americans‘ odds of dying in a car crash are one in 114. In 2016, motor vehicle deaths claimed 40,000 lives.

06. September 2018

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