Northwest Drivers Remain Wary of Autonomous Cars

A poll finds that 40 percent of surveyed drivers in Oregon and Washington aren't interested in owning a driverless car, even if price wasn't a factor.

by Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times / October 13, 2016

(TNS) — Pacific Northwest drivers believe self-driving cars could hit our streets in the next 10 years, but many people say they won’t want one.

A poll from Pemco Insurance finds that 58 percent of surveyed drivers in Oregon and Washington think autonomous cars will be legally allowed in the next decade. But more than 40 percent say they aren’t interested in owning one, even if price wasn’t a factor.

About 23 percent said they’d consider it, and 34 percent are really interested in buying one.

Companies across the U.S. are developing and testing self-driving technology, and some cars have already been spotted driving on city streets. Google is testing a self-driving car in Kirkland, and Uber has an autonomous car roaming a small section of Pittsburgh.

Both tests are equipped with human drivers in the front seat, who are able to take over the car if they feel it necessary.

Studies show that driverless cars could one day be safer than human-operated vehicles, but that is likely decades away. And individually owned self-driving cars may take even longer – some believe the technology will first come to car fleets that are operated by companies, such as an Uber.

Still, people are already starting to prepare for robot vehicles to take over the streets. Local tech experts proposed a ban last month that would take human drivers off a 150-mile stretch of I-5 and reserve it solely for self-driving cars.

Pemco’s poll, which surveyed 600 people each in Washington and Oregon, showed younger drivers are more excited about owning the cars. About half of drivers under 35 years old said they are very interested in letting their car drive them around.

©2016 The Seattle Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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