California Poll Shows Diminishing Public Enthusiasm for Self-Driving Cars


June 10, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – June 7, 2018 (mercurynews.com) Results of a new poll in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California, show members of the public are losing enthusiasm for self-driving cars. The survey results are reported by mercurynews.com.

The Bay Area Council released results from a poll June 7 in which it surveyed 1,000 registered voters about self-driving cars and potential solutions to traffic and road safety issues. The results showed a 6 percent decline in public support for self-driving cars, with 46 percent of respondents saying they were willing to ride in a self-driving vehicle. That figure is down from 52 percent in 2017. In addition, 39 percent of respondents said they would not be willing to ride in any vehicle that did not have a live human driver. 

The drop in support and perceived mistrust of self-driving cars can be attributed in part to several high-profile accidents involving autonomous vehicle technology that have occurred in the United States in 2018. In March 2018, an Arizona pedestrian died after she was struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle, and a California man died when his Tesla crashed into a highway barrier while in Autopilot mode. The two incidents prompted serious public concern about the safety of autonomous vehicles.

Aside from the safety aspects of the cars, the Bay Area Council’s survey found dismal optimism about self-driving cars’ ability to solve any real traffic problems. Only 22 percent of survey participants responded that they believed self-driving vehicles could “solve” the Bay Area’s dense traffic congestion. By contrast, 69 percent believed upgraded traffic signals that could adjust to driving conditions would help to solve traffic congestion. 

Additionally, 68 percent of participants said they would be willing to take ferries if services were better aligned to destinations, and 54 percent were in support of drones for package deliveries as a means of reducing delivery vehicles on the road. 

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