The concept of driverless cars is becoming even less popular with motorists, according to a survey.

Over half of drivers told online motor retailers Buy a Car that the idea of autonomous cars “horrifies” them.

Newly released figures show that motorists are now more fearful and sceptical about computer-controlled driving than they were just two years ago.

According to the figures, in April 2017, 46 per cent of those surveyed said that the idea of giving up the control of their vehicle to autonomous technologies “horrified” them. That number has now risen to 56 per cent.

Buy a Car has tracked consumer attitudes to the idea of autonomous vehicles since April 2017. The latest findings will worry transport policy makers who are determined to see driverless vehicles introduced onto the UK’s roads as soon as possible.

Not only is scepticism on the rise; enthusiasm is dwindling too.

Two years ago, 11 per cent of those surveyed declared that they thought driverless cars were an exciting development. Two years on, that figure has dropped to just six per cent.

In April 2017 almost one in five motorists surveyed thought that they were likely to own a driverless car one day. This month that figure has slumped to 13 per cent, despite government plans to encourage the take-up of driverless cars in the coming years.

And in a sign of hardening attitudes, the number of people declaring that they ‘definitely will not’ own a driverless car at any point has risen from 38 to 42 per cent.

Overall, mistrust in autonomous technology seems to be growing. 44 per cent of drivers now saying they ‘just don’t trust the idea of a driverless car’, compared with 34 per cent in April 2017.

Even though many are sceptical about fully autonomous cars, semi-autonomous tech such as emergency braking is a big safety factor in the eyes of Euro NCAP. Deals on 2018’s safest car according to the NCAP tests – the Mercedes A Class – can be seen here.

Ted Welford


April 8, 2019