Poll Shows Worries about a Driverless Future


Innovators love to talk about the dawning of a new age where people won’t have to perform any of the daily chores that take up much of their day. Chief among them – driving.

Silicon Valley firms have gotten behind the idea of driverless cars as the future of auto travel. But is that what everyday Americans actually want? A new study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) says that many licensed drivers have real reservations about them.

UMTRI found that nearly 46 percent of those surveyed want no vehicle automation at all, while 39 percent favor partial automation. Only about 15 percent want fully driverless vehicles. Why is that? Because not being able to control the vehicle you’re driving in is scary as hell!

That’s particularly the case when you add trucks into the equation, as an article in the Commercial Carrier Journal notes:

“If 85 percent of respondents want nothing to do with autonomous cars, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that even more want nothing to do with self-driving heavy trucks. In a similar report, [report authors Brandon] Schoettle and [Michael] Sivak found that nearly 95 percent of U.S. motorists responding to their survey had some level of concern sharing the roads with autonomous trucks and trailers. Nearly 60 percent were “very concerned,” nearly 25 percent “moderately concerned” and 12.2 percent “slightly concerned.” Among the countries covered in the report (China, India, Japan, U.S., U.K. and Australia), American motorists were the most concerned with self-driving Class 8s on the highway.”

The Teamsters are at the forefront of highway safety. As it stands, the nation’s roadways can be a dangerous place for motorists. The last thing those traveling U.S. thoroughfares need are out-of-control trucks that jeopardize the lives of others!

No one can stop the technological changes that are coming. As a whole, they can improve Americans lives. But entrepreneurs and policy makers must balance the desire for the next big thing with sound public policy that ensures the public good.