Motorists red light driverless cars

Motorists could stop self-driving cars in their tracks with more than 70 per cent ready to turn their backs on the march of automotive progress, according to a new survey.

Just over five per cent of motorists asked by the UK’s largest specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux said they would embrace the new technology that’s causing such a buzz in the motoring world, with 24 per cent undecided.

Google has sunk millions of dollars into developing autonomous vehicles that have so far travelled more than 1.7 million miles with just 11 minor accidents – all the fault of other drivers.

But despite the clear implications for road safety, 70.3 per cent of 1,784 customers surveyed by Flux, which specialises in providing cover for modified and unusual vehicles, gave a red light to giving control of their driving to a computer.

Of those, more than 45 per cent don’t like the idea of not being in control, while nearly 36 per cent said they simply enjoy driving too much to hand over the reins.

Nearly five per cent worry about the implications of hacking, 4.4 per cent fear they will be too expensive, and 2.9 per cent don’t believe they will ever catch on.

One customer said, ‘I love the overall driving experience and being in control. I love technological advance but love to drive and the overall experience and the sensation it provides.’

Another, who spent a career in IT added, ‘I know that if something could go wrong, there will come a time when it will.’

With even current cars open to hacking, including a Jeep that was brought to a halt on a US highway by a laptop-wielding hacker, some people are loathe to put their safety in the hands of a computer.

‘I would not want my safety decided by a software engineer,’ said one respondent, while another added, ‘Quite simply they have CPUs that by their very nature can be hacked in much the same way wi-fi can be hijacked.’

Gerry Bucke, general manager at Flux, said the survey showed that the biggest obstacle to the uptake of driverless cars is people’s love of driving, fear of the unknown and reluctance to give yet more of their lives over to computers.

‘There appears little doubt that driverless cars will become a reality in one form or another, but motorists are clearly struggling with the idea of giving up the freedom of the open road and simple pleasure of driving great cars,’ he added.

‘Many people have a real passion for cars and driving, and if vehicles are all essentially the same, moving around the country at fixed speeds with no input from the driver, one of life’s pleasures will be taken away.’

‘The biggest stumbling block to this new technology, however good it may be, could well be that people simply don’t want it.’