Fewer than one in four would trust self-driving technology

05 Feb 2024

Fewer than one in four (23%) people say they would happily travel in a fully self-driving car, according to new research.

  • Just 23% say they would happily travel in a fully self-driving car, shows February’s new Startline Used Car Tracker
  • 37% don’t trust autonomous cars but only 18% think that humans are generally better drivers than the technology

The February Startline Used Car Tracker also shows that 37% don’t trust the technology, while 24% don’t believe the government and car makers would wait until completely autonomous cars really work before introducing them.


The questions were asked following the government’s announcement that it was introducing a new Automated Vehicles Bill to make it easier for self-driving cars to be used on UK roads, and was also investing £18.5m in funding for 13 different projects focusing on self-driving technologies, products and services.


Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said: “Car makers and other companies have invested billions in fully self-driving technology during recent years but our research indicates that, even if they were able to bring an effective product to market and the law allowed them to introduce it, there would be limited enthusiasm from consumers.


“Perhaps the most damning finding is that fewer than a quarter of people trust the government and manufacturers to wait until the technology works before selling it. This might be the result of quite widespread reporting about a series of accidents, especially in the US, some of which have resulted in deaths.


“While the picture might well be different for various types of semi-autonomous technology that are making their way to market, some of which automate motorway driving, for example, there is little enthusiasm for giving complete control to the car itself.”


However, while the Startline Used Car Tracker shows a great deal of suspicion about self-driving, only 18% of those surveyed believed that humans were ultimately better drivers than the technology.


Paul added: “This is quite a nuanced finding. If the biggest part of our research shows that people don’t trust self-driving cars, this question shows that they perhaps rate human drivers even lower. Maybe they want the technology to be close to perfect before adopting it, even if they believe it is already potentially better than a person.”


The final finding from the Startline Used Car Tracker is that only 31% believe that if there was a problem with self-driving technology during a journey, the driver would be ready to immediately take over.


Paul said: “The get-out clause for some self-driving technology is that, if it fails, the manufacturers says that driver should be ready to take over instantly. There is obviously little faith among the public that this would be case, quite rightly in our opinion. The whole point of autonomous cars for drivers is that they don’t have to be concentrating.”


The Startline Used Car Tracker is compiled monthly for Startline Motor Finance by APD Global Research, well-known in the motor industry for their business intelligence reporting and customer experience programs. This time, 301 consumers and 61 dealers were questioned.