Companies such as Tesla and Motional may be excited about autonomous vehicles, but a new AAA survey shows many motorists are far more wary. According to the survey, 70 percent of drivers said they were afraid to use self-driving vehicles, up from 55 percent in the year before. The main reasons for their hesitancy revolved around the technology's safety and reliability.
“We were not expecting such a dramatic decline in trust from previous years,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive research for AAA, in a press release. “Although with the number of high-profile crashes that have occurred from over-reliance on current vehicle technologies, this isn’t entirely surprising.”
The number of motorists afraid of autonomous vehicles steadily declined from 59 percent in 2020 to 55 percent in 2022 before jumping to 68 percent in the early months of 2023. 
AAA said the findings suggest that more improvements are needed to the technology before the public will get fully on board with the concept. It also emphasized the need to clear up confusion around what exactly autonomous vehicles do. For example, one AAA survey found that one in ten drivers think there are vehicles on the market that allow them to sleep while driving. 
No such vehicle exists, with most requiring at least some vigilance from the driver. 
The industry group said confusion may stem from the names of vehicle systems on the market, such as Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist, which gesture toward full automation. 
“AAA seeks to partner with automakers to create greater consistency across the industry. Together, we can help consumers understand the type of technology their vehicle has along with how, when and where to use these systems, which will ultimately build trust in the vehicles of the future,” said Brannon.