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

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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