Has Trust in Self-Driving Cars Changed? Not Really - eMarketer
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Has Trust in Self-Driving Cars Changed? Not Really

But young people still trust them more than older generations

May 12, 2017 | Marketing

New data finds that trust in autonomous vehicles hasn’t changed much in the past year. Teens and younger millennials are still more likely to trust self-driving cars, while very few baby boomers do.

Market research firm J.D. Power and Associates surveyed US internet users ages 16 and older who have purchased or leased a new vehicle in the past five years. In 2017, 23% of teens and young adults ages 16 to 22 said they would definitely trust fully automated self-driving cars. But that’s not very different from their response a year ago—an increase of just 2 percentage points.

Extent to Which US Teen/Young Adult vs. Baby Boomer Internet Users Would Trust Autonomous Vehicles*, 2016 & 2017 (% of respondents in each group)

And the number of young people who said they would probably trust autonomous vehicles actually declined slightly during this time, from 34% to 33%.

One key difference from last year’s responses, however, is that more individuals in this age group said they would definitely not trust self-driving cars. In fact, their distrust doubled, from 11% in 2016 to 22% in 2017.

But skepticism in self-driving cars didn’t just increase among young people. Some 39% of boomer respondents polled in 2016 said they definitely wouldn’t trust these vehicles; that number increased to 44% in 2017.

One reason for this increase in distrust? Many are concerned that the technology of self-driving cars could fail them. According to the study, nearly half of boomer respondents felt this way, as did roughly a third of teens and young adults.

Activities that US Teen/Young Adult vs. Baby Boomer Internet Users Would Conduct* in an Autonomous Vehicle, Feb 2017 (% of respondents in each group)

And when asked what activities they would conduct for the majority of time they were in a self-driving car, unsurprisingly, 39% of baby boomers said they would not ride in a self-driving car at all, about five times the number of teens and young adults who would also refuse to do so.

Other responses from 2017 varied greatly. For example, a quarter of teens and young adults said they would take a nap in a self-driving car, compared with only 6% of boomers. Nearly a third (31%) of younger respondents would talk or text for the majority of the time; just 12% of boomers would do the same.

—Monica Melton

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