Self-Driving Cars Survey: Safety Considered Major Issue

There’s been a lot of talk about self-driving cars lately, from tech companies like Google reportedly working on completely autonomous vehicles to car companies releasing vehicles with some limited self-driving capabilities. But some consumers are still wary about the idea according to reports like the University of Michigan’s recent study. So how many consumers are interested in owning self-driving cars? And what are some of the factors that might impact their opinions?

self-driving cars

Self-Driving Cars

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 37% of respondents said that they would be interested in owning a self-driving car at some point in the future. Slightly more respondents, 44%, said that they would be likely to purchase a self-driving car if it still gave them the option to take over driving controls if they so choose. And 33% said they would be likely to purchase a partially self-driving car, like one that can park itself, within the next five years.

There were several different potential benefits of self-driving cars cited by respondents, but the most prevalent seems to be safety. 42% of those who were at least somewhat interested in self-driving cars said that they would consider buying one because they feel it would be safer. 38% would consider it because it could lead to less personal liability. 26% said they like owning the latest technology. 24% would consider buying a self-driving car if it came from a brand they trust. And 13% cited other reasons, like convenience over long car trips and relieving fears about driving. The most popular brands that respondents said they would consider when it comes to self-driving cars were Ford, Toyota, Chevy, Honda, Google and Tesla.

Safety Concerns

Even though the respondents who are interested in owning self-driving cars cited safety as a main benefit, those who are not interested also cited safety as one of their main concerns. 66% of those who are not interested in owning self-driving cars said that safety would be one of their major concerns that could keep them from purchasing a self-driving car. 40% also cited concerns about the potential cost of self-driving cars. 39% said they would be uncertain about the technology. 35% said they just aren’t interested. 33% said they would have concerns about liability issues. And 3% cited other reasons like not driving or just liking operating vehicles themselves.

Vehicle Owners

Currently, 72% of respondents said that they own or lease their own vehicles. And 49% said they are likely to purchase or lease another vehicle at some point within the next five years. When considering a new vehicle purchase, respondents generally selected cost as their most important consideration, slightly more so than safety. Type of vehicle, brand name and style were rated as moderately important. And luxury and high tech features were rated as the least important considerations for vehicle buyers.

Key Takeaways

No matter which way you look at it, it seems that safety is the main determining factor when it comes to consumer opinions about self-driving cars, though the potential cost could also be a deterrent. Since safety is seen as a potential benefit by some and a major concern by others, companies that might want to release self-driving cars in the future would likely have to find a way to prove the safety of their vehicles beforehand. It’s possible that easing consumers into the idea through cars that have some self-driving features or that allow drivers to control the vehicle in some situations could help to alleviate some concerns. In addition, it seems that major car brands are more able to convince the average consumer to try out self-driving cars rather than more tech-focused companies like Google, potentially because those car companies already have experience dealing with vehicle safety issues.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Google self-driving car from Flickr

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on May 28 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.