Self-driving cars? About as exciting as self-checkout groceries for many Northwesterners

Wednesday, October 12, 2016by  Derek Wing

Eager for autopilot? Um ... nope, according to the latest PEMCO Poll.

Among Northwesterners we asked, 23% could muster no better than “somewhat interested” in the idea of owning a driverless car. About 40% said they were “not very interested” or “not at all interested” – even if price wasn’t an issue!

So why the big yawn?

It’s not that we’re in denial they’re coming. Most – 58% – said we believe driverless cars will be legally allowed on our roads within the next 10 years.

We just don’t want one in the driveway.

The poll didn’t dig into specific reasons why. But demographic breakdowns may offer some clues.

The younger the respondents, the more likely they’d let the car do the driving, and the sooner they thought they’d see driverless cars on the road. Among drivers under age 35, about half said they’d be “very interested” in owning a driverless car. That compares to about one-quarter of people over age 35. Young men were the most interested.

Maybe it comes down to generational trust in technology. Or habit. Or, maybe it’s the same reason it irks us to reliquish the TV remote.

C-O-N-T-R-O-L.

The more we’re used to running the show, the harder it is to let someone else, or in this case something else, make choices for us. And when those decisions can literally mean life or death, the urge to keep both hands on the wheel – even if we’re distracted, lost, or sleepy – may be too great to ignore.

Read full results of the poll of 1,200 Washington and Oregon residents by Seattle’s FBK Research. 

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