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Driverless cars – the road to nowhere?

Drivers generally do not believe that automated and driverless vehicles will deliver promised benefits, a new study has found.

When asked what benefits they thought would be delivered, the second most popular response was ‘none’, as more than a third of survey participants could not identify any advantage that would follow future advances.

In identifying their feelings about automotive technology, the top six issues were negative, such as the wrong focus or conceding control. Motorists were three times as likely to be scared of autonomous vehicles due to the loss of personal control than to see the positive opportunities.

Researchers spoke with 2,000 motorists for Continental Tyres, as part of its Vision Zero project, a commitment to reduce traffic fatalities worldwide.

The top views about driverless cars were that people are becoming too lazy and reliant on technology (37%), and there are too many risks associated with technology, like being hacked (36%).

When asked what issues should be prioritised by automotive and technology companies, half of road users agreed it should be improved road safety. This was followed by almost half saying more economical vehicles using existing and new fuels, and 47% saying less traffic on the roads.

“It is the job of automotive technology manufacturers, like Continental, to inform drivers of the immediate and near-future gains from the exciting work being done,” Mark Griffiths, a safety expert at Continental Tyres, said. “In the past, the benefits from some advances have been self-evident, such as tyre pressure monitoring systems or anti-lock brakes. Road users today see safety as a top priority, and we strive to raise awareness about the importance of fundamental issues, such as tyre safety and tread depth.”