Safety fears over driverless and electric cars


Brits are feeling ‘cautious’ at prospect of cars without human drivers

The majority of people in the UK have reservations about new driving concepts such as driverless and electric cars, but believe the popularity of such technologies will surge in the future. This is according to a survey carried out by Northern Connectors, which found that both drivers and non-drivers have concerns about safety and practicality.

The survey revealed that almost two thirds (65%) of respondents cited safety issues, such as the driver not being in full control of their vehicle, as a main disadvantage of driverless cars. Almost half (49%) are worried that machines would struggle with the ethical decisions that present themselves on the road and 50% agreed there would be uncertainty over who would be held responsible in the event of a crash.

Almost 850 people took part in the survey and just under two thirds (64%) said they would currently rather own a manual than a driverless car, with many citing the joy of driving and the control and freedom it affords them, while others claimed they do not trust technology and believe manual driving to be safer.

Scott Jones, GM at Northern Connectors, a distributor of industrial connectors and components to industries including the car manufacturing sector, said: “Our findings show that while significant strides are being made to bring both driverless and electric cars to the wider market, many people are fearful about the unknown.

“Can a driverless car decide whether to swerve to avoid a collision if it meant hitting another car? Who will be held responsible if a driverless car causes a crash? How long will it take to recharge an electric battery? Could it run out halfway through a journey? These are all valid questions for which people will want answers before they are able to place their trust in the new technologies. Once these fears are allayed, however, it seems the new vehicles will be much more widely embraced.”

The survey also revealed that many people are worried about practical issues concerning electric cars. More than three quarters (77%) pointed to difficulties with recharging, two thirds (66%) cited long recharging times, the same percentage raised fears about running out of electricity mid-journey and more than one-third (34%) said they would worry about battery replacement issues.

Just under half (45%) of those questioned said they would currently rather own a petrol-powered car, compared to 26% who would prefer an electric car and 29% who do not know.

Despite these reservations, most respondents expect use of both driverless and electric cars to increase in the future. It was shown that more than two thirds (67%) believe driverless cars will be either quite popular or very popular in the years ahead, while 73% think electric cars will either be quite or very popular. Reduced driver fatigue (55%) and a reduction in drink or drug driving accidents (52%) were shown as the main advantages of driverless cars, while the main advantages of electric cars are that they are more environmentally-friendly (79%) and there is no need for petrol (68%).


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