New research has revealed that 71% of drivers around the world believe they can purchase a self-driving car right now.

The astonishing finding was just one of many worrying perceptions uncovered by the study, which also found that one in ten drivers would be tempted to have a nap while using a so-called ‘Highway Assist’ system, such as Adaptive Cruise Control.

Key findings from the #TestingAutomation study, commissioned by Thatcham Research, Euro NCAP and Global NCAP, included:

  • 71% of drivers globally and 53% in the UK believe they can purchase a car that can drive itself today.
  • 18% of British motorists think that a car marketed as being capable of automatic steering, braking and acceleration allows them to “sit back and relax and let the car do the driving.”
  • Many respondents said they would be tempted to break the law while using an Assisted Driving system by texting on a mobile phone (34%), making a hand-held call (33%) or having a brief nap (11%).
  • Only 51% of drivers believe they would be liable in the event of a crash when using Assisted Driving systems.

“Car makers want to gain a competitive edge by referring to ‘self-driving’ or ‘semi-autonomous’ capability in their marketing, but it is fuelling consumer confusion,” Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham, said.

“Our message is that today’s technology supports the driver.  It is not Automated Driving and it is not to be relied on at the expense of driver attentiveness.  The driver is in control and must always remain alert.  If used correctly, Highway Assist systems will improve road safety and reduce fatalities, but they won’t if naming and marketing convinces drivers that the car can take care of itself.”

“The lack of driver training and standardised controls, symbols and names for these features is further muddying the waters.  Most drivers agree, with 74% saying that all new car models should have standardised conventions for features such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aids.  In addition, 77% said they would be happy to watch a short training video or take an online course to better understand the functionality and limitations of a new car’s Assisted Driving technologies.”

Added: 28 November 2018

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