What do people think about autonomous vehicles?

Men and younger people more interested in AVs

The 2017 Puget Sound Travel Survey asked several questions related to autonomous vehicles (sometimes called self-driving cars).

The survey asked people if they would be interested in riding in an autonomous vehicle (AV) used as a taxi with no driver present. Overall in 2017, 72% of people were not interested in AVs, or they were unsure or neutral about them. There was a slight uptick in the share of people who were somewhat interested in AVs compared to 2015.

The survey also asked participants about their interest in commuting alone in an autonomous vehicle. Men were much more likely to be very interested in AVs than women (24% versus 9%). Conversely, women were more apt to say they were “not at all interested” in them (47% versus 35%).

Maybe tracking with their higher interest in AVs, men were less worried than women about the ability of AVs to react to the driving environment. The survey showed that 8% of men are not at all concerned about how AVs will respond, compared to 3% of women. More than half of the survey participants—of both genders—were concerned about how the cars would react to their environment.

Younger people are more attracted to AVs than older people. In the region, 18% of 18- to 24-year-olds are very interested in AVs, as compared with only 2% of those aged 65 and over.

As AVs become more of a reality, the attitudes towards them could rapidly shift. The Puget Sound household travel surveys will help us track these changes over time. The 2019 survey is underway now.