Globally, nearly two thirds of people would not feel safe in self-driving cars

The 2021 World Risk Poll reveals that worldwide, 65% of people say they would not feel safe being driven in a car without a human driver. Just 27% of people globally say they would feel safe, and in no country or region did more than 45% of people say they would feel safe.

Technology companies and auto manufacturers have predicted the widespread adoption of automated driving systems for years1, however the Poll data shows that buy-in to autonomous vehicles continues to face challenges, as people still have concerns about safety.

The Poll also found that globally, people’s fear of road crashes correlates with their appetite for self-driving cars. Of those who are very worried about harm from traffic or roadside collisions, only 24% said they will feel safe in a car driven by a computer. Whereas, for those who aren’t worried about road crashes generally, the figure rises to 30%. Concern about road crashes was highlighted in the first 2021 World Risk Poll report – A Changed World? Perceptions and experiences of risk in the Covid age – which found that 13% of people worldwide named road related crashes and collisions as the biggest day-to-day risk to their safety.

Confidence in self-driving cars by region

The Poll data shows that while trust in self-driving cars varies substantially around the world, more people in every country surveyed say they would not feel safe in a self-driving car than said they would feel safe. Denmark has the highest percentage of people who would feel safe (45%), followed by UAE (44%), Afghanistan (44%), Italy (43%), Spain (41%), Kyrgyzstan (41%), and Sweden (40%).

While Afghanistan is amongst the countries where people are most likely to feel safe, it also shows one of the largest gender gaps in the world on this question, with 54% of Afghan men saying they would feel safe, versus 34% of women. The difference likely reflects restrictions that prevent many Afghan women from driving alone2.

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