American drivers are beginning to embrace self-driving vehicles, according to a study released today from AAA. The annual survey reveals that 63 percent of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, a significant decrease from 78 percent in early 2017. While riding in a fully self-driving vehicle may seem futuristic, testing of these vehicles in the United States is well underway. That means sharing the road with an automated vehicle is an increasingly near-term possibility.

To inform and prepare Oklahoma drivers for this shift in mobility, AAA Oklahoma has prioritized consumer education on the topic. A free public webinar Thursday, Feb. 1, at noon, will explore what’s occurring now and what’s ahead as vehicle technology evolves.

AAA supports development of technological innovations in transportation to improve roadway safety. Even though 90% of crashes are caused by human error, U.S. drivers report high confidence in their own driving abilities. Three-quarters (73 percent) of U.S. drivers consider themselves better-than-average drivers. Men, in particular, are confident in their driving skills with 8 in 10 considering their driving skills better than average. Interestingly, millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.

In Oklahoma, drivers share similar concerns about autonomous vehicle technology. Through a 2016 statewide survey, AAA found that:

41 percent of Oklahomans believe autonomous vehicle technologies will result in more crashes. Just 30 percent said they felt these technologies would result in fewer crashes.

Only 21 percent believe they will be routinely riding in a self-driving vehicle within 10 years.

86 percent of Oklahoma drivers surveyed expressed concern about the security of data shared by autonomous vehicles.

83 percent of those surveyed think that local and state governments should inform the public about when and where the testing of self-driving vehicles will occur.

“Drivers are so confident in their driving abilities that they may hesitate to give up full control to a self-driving vehicle,” Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson, said. “But in our state, traffic deaths are the number one cause of preventable deaths and serious injury. The facts speak for themselves. Education, exposure and experience will likely help ease consumer fears as we steer toward a more automated future.”

Additional results of the 2017 national AAA survey include:

Women (73 percent) are more likely than men (52 percent) to be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, and more likely to feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving car (55 percent versus 36 percent).

Millennials are the most trusting of self-driving vehicles, with only 49 percent (down from 73 percent) reporting that they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car. While the majority of baby boomers (68 percent) still report being afraid to ride in a self-driving car, this generation is significantly more comfortable with the idea than they were a year ago, when 85 percent reported being afraid.

Baby boomers (54 percent) and Generation X (47 percent) drivers are more likely than millennial drivers (34 percent) to feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving car.