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Motorists doubtful over driverless car technology, survey finds

IAM research also shows drivers split right down the middle on merits of self-driven cars' adherence to speed limit...

Two thirds of motorists say they’re unsure about the merits of driverless cars, while four in ten state that they would never even consider driving one, according to a survey from road safety charity IAM. Opinion regarding such vehicles being restricted to driving within the speed limit is split right down the middle – half of motorists polled say it is a positive feature, but half see it as a drawback.

The finding that most people who actually drive cars are dubious about that task being given to a machine is perhaps understandable - for those who are most attached to their vehicles, it's presumably a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

The poll of 1,111 motorists comes at a time when development of the technology is gathering pace – as we reported last month, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that paves the way for self-driven cars to take to the state’s roads, while a vehicle being developed by Google has passed 300,000 miles in testing without mishap.

Professor Garel Rhys, who heads up Cardiff University’s Centre for Automotive Industry Research has said because the majority of road traffic incidents are due to, self-driving cars would lead to roads becoming safer. 

Despite that, only one in three respondents to IAM’s survey believed that taking away human interaction would improve road safety, and three quarters said that instead of trying to improve automotive technology, it would be better to focus on ways to encourage safer driving habits among motorists.

Simon Best, chief executive of IAM, said: “The presence of driverless technology in every car is still many years away. In the meantime, more should be done immediately to improve driver standards and deal with the most common human errors through better training, as well as incentives by the government and insurance companies.

"Of course technology has a huge role to play in road safety, but as long as there are cars on the road people will want to drive them. What we need to aim for is first class drivers operating first class vehicles.”

Other findings of the research include:

Around half of respondents (500 of 1,088) feel that driverless cars are a good initiative for the future.

Half of motorists don’t think that driverless cars will become popular.

56 per cent do not think there is a possibility that driverless cars will be the norm
within the next ten years.

98 of 1,088 people think that driverless car technology is irresponsible.

22 per cent of respondents would use a driverless car.

Over half of motorists think that automated systems should take control to prevent a crash.

92 per cent of people like the fact that with driverless car technology, the car behind would not be allowed to drive too close to you.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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