Californians Aren't Interested in Having Autonomous Cars in their Neighborhoods

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【Summary】California may be one of the primary states that automakers and companies use to test their autonomous vehicles, but 58 percent of people that live there don’t want self-driving cars on the road.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 26, 2018 10:15 AM PT
Californians Aren't Interested in Having Autonomous Cars in their Neighborhoods

Currently, California is one of the handful of states that allows for fully-autonomous testing. By applying for the state's autonomous testing permit, automakers and tech companies can unleash their self-driving vehicles onto the road without having a physical driver behind the wheel. 

More Than 50 Percent Of Californians Don't Want Autonomous Cars

While automakers and tech companies may be exited to get their autonomous vehicles on to the road, picking up passengers along the way, Californians aren't that excited about the prospect of sharing the road with driverless cars. According to a poll conducted by SurveyUSA News, more than half of Californians don't want autonomous vehicles on the road. 

To gather its data, SurveyUSA News polled over 1,100 adults from California. The data they gathered was staggering, revealing that 58 percent of individuals said they did not believe autonomous cars should be allowed in neighborhoods. Fifty seven percent of respondents said that they would feel "unsafe" or "very unsafe" to even ride in a driverless car. 

The organization's data revealed that the figure for whether autonomous cars should be on the road or not grows to 4:1 with seniors and 5:1 for individuals that reside in rural parts of the state for not wanting the machines. 

We should point out that the survey took place days after one of Uber's self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, as well as the incident involving a Tesla Model S running into a barricade and killing its driver in California. The accidents could have swayed the respondents to answering negatively towards driverless cars. 

The survey should get some automakers and tech companies worried, as California is home to numerous players in the autonomous scene. Tesla, Waymo, and General Motors all have bases out there to develop self-driving technology. Despite seeing loads of autonomous vehicles on the roads of California, individuals that live in the state don't think they're very safe. The researcher's survey found that only eight percent of respondents felt as if they feel "very safe" to get into a driverless vehicle. 

How The Number Break Down

As expected, there were some disparities between genders and where residents lived. Roughly two times the number of males would like to see autonomous cars on the street than females. Surveyors with a four-year college degree also showed the highest support for driverless cars (with 30 percent), while high school graduates were close behind in second. Those with some college education followed behind. 

Respondents were also asked a question on who they believed should be in charge of deciding where autonomous vehicles can test. The majority of individuals, 29 percent, claimed that state governments should be in charge. Federal government, though, wasn't far behind with 24 percent. The other major answer was local government, which 19 percent of respondents voted for. After that, 15 percent was the next most popular option, which stood for not sure. 

The survey's findings don't bode well for companies and automakers that are looking into autonomous vehicles, but Bryant Walker Smith, chairman of the Emerging Technology Law Committee at the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, believes that people will change their mind after testing driverless cars. 

"People would've said the same thing about smartphones," said Smith. "Automated vehicles will find a significant market if they save money, expand mobility or free up time." 

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