Northwest residents aren’t ready for driverless cars

Northwest residents aren’t ready for driverless cars

Northwest residents aren’t ready for driverless cars

The FINANCIAL -- Though flying cars might still be a distant figment of the future, a majority of Northwest residents believe that self-driving automobiles will soon join other vehicles on the road. But insights from the latest PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll reveal that most drivers in this region will be reluctant to give up the driver's seat when that day comes.

A new PEMCO Poll finds that most drivers (58 percent) believe that driverless cars will be legally allowed on city streets and highways within the next decade, but surprisingly few – just one in three Washington and Oregon drivers – say they're very interested in owning one, even if the price tag isn't an issue. Instead, significantly more – about 40 percent – say they're not interested in owning one at all.

Younger drivers, however, are more eager for autopilot. Two-thirds of drivers under age 35 think driverless cars will hit the streets in less than 10 years, and they're twice as likely to say they're very or extremely interested in owning a self-driving vehicle compared to their older counterparts (47 percent vs. 23 percent).

"Though perhaps not as true for the younger crowd, the poll confirmed what might be a familiar feeling for many: it's hard to give up control. Especially when you consider what's at stake in a car crash, we can understand many drivers' desire to remain behind the wheel," said PEMCO spokesperson Derek Wing. "Even considering today's latest safety features, I think it's human nature for drivers to trust their own instincts and reaction times more than a machine's."

According to the poll, a majority of drivers welcome the newer safety features of today's traditional vehicles (additions like back-up cameras, blind-spot detection and brake assist) and agree they keep all drivers safer on the road.

Of the drivers who have newer safety features installed, about three-quarters say they rely on them at least a little bit, but most (76 percent) also are quite confident they could drive just as well without those safety features.

"We'll be interested to see how people's attitudes may change over time as technology continues to evolve and some of these concepts become less futuristic and more contemporary," Wing added.