A national survey of nearly 3,000 licensed U.S. drivers found almost six in 10 (59%) think self-driving cars will eliminate the problem of distracted driving.
Two-thirds of men think this, compared with just over half of women (66% to 52%, respectively).
Experts, however, say that while it may be nice to kick back and let the car do the driving, the time for that is likely a long way off.
“The term ‘self-driving car’ suggests I can hop in my car, enter a destination and have it take me from point A to point B. But that car doesn’t exist yet,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Erie Insurance commissioned the national survey to coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It was conducted online by Harris Poll.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, human error is a factor in 94 percent of car crashes. While we believe that fully autonomous vehicles will greatly reduce that number, it’s hard to predict how soon they will be widely available,” said Cody Cook, Erie Insurance vice president and product manager of ERIE’s auto department. “Current technology is going a long way to keep us safer on the road, but the last thing we want is for people to become over-confident as this technology continues to evolve. Unfortunately, our survey finds that many people are getting ahead of themselves—making plans for what they’ll do in the car instead of paying attention to the road.”
Sleeping promises to be a popular pastime in self-driving cars. Roughly half of the licensed drivers surveyed (51%) said one of the biggest advantages of self-driving cars would be the ability to go longer distances without worrying about being drowsy while driving. About a fifth (19%) said they’d sleep or nap while operating a self-driving car.
Other activities drivers said they planned to do while operating a self-driving car included texting (34%), checking and sending emails (34%); reading (27%); and playing video games (11%).