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AAA: Most Americans Not Ready for Self-Driving Cars

Drivers say improving vehicle safety systems takes priority over developing self-driving cars

Charlotte, N.C. (February 25, 2021) – Automakers may already hold the key to improving public acceptance of self-driving cars: fine-tuning existing vehicle technology. Yet, while most Americans want new technology in their vehicle, the majority are still not ready for their car to drive itself.

AAA’s annual automated vehicle survey found that:

  • 14% of drivers would trust riding in a vehicle that drives itself, similar to last year’s results
  • 54% of drivers would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle
  • 32% of drivers are unsure about it

While American’s interest in owning a car with more advanced technology grows, they are still struggling to warm up to the idea of full vehicle automation. The survey also found that:

  • 22% of people feel manufacturers should focus on developing self-driving vehicles
  • 80% say they want current vehicle safety systems, like automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance, to work better
  • 58% want these systems in their next vehicle

“Motorists are ready to embrace new vehicle technology, but they want to be confident in its ability to make driving safer first,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Research in the past has found that some systems may be faulty, which can negatively influence a driver’s willingness to accept new vehicle automation.”

Most new vehicles have ADAS technology

Consumers who buy new will likely have at least one type of vehicle safety system. In many cases, this could be their first interaction with more advanced vehicle technology.

Nearly 96% of 2020 vehicle models came equipped with at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning or lane-keeping assistance.

AAA advice for consumers and manufacturers

A collective effort by both the auto industry and consumers is what it will take to move the needle away from apprehension and closer toward acceptance.

  • Manufacturers should continue to hone vehicle technology by expanding testing and focusing on including more real-world scenarios encountered by drivers
  • The public should also find opportunities to educate themselves on when and how self-driving vehicles will be a part of daily life


The survey was conducted January 15-17, 2021, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone.

A total of 1,010 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.


About AAA – The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the
AAA Mobile app, visit, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

For more information on this press release, please contact:

Public Relations Manager
Tiffany Wright
Work : 704-737-8306
Cell : 704-569-7768