Californians now oppose self-driving cars on local roads by almost a three-to-one margin, according to a new poll.
The technology behind “autonomous” vehicles that drive themselves by using complex systems of computers, radars, and lasers has made tremendous advances. But a series of high-visibility crashes appears to have caused the California public to oppose the testing of self-driving cars and trucks in local communities.
Scripps Media conducted a scientific poll that asked 1,100 individuals across the state: “Should automobiles that are designed to be driven by computers, without a human driver, be allowed to operate on the streets of your neighborhood?”
About 58 percent of Californians that answered the question said driverless cars should not be allowed to operate in their community. 21 percent said driverless cars should be allowed to operate locally, and the remaining 20 percent were not sure.
To judge how driverless vehicles should be regulated, Scripps asked the same 1,100 Californians who should take the regulatory lead:“Who should be ultimately responsible for deciding where driverless cars are allowed and where they are not allowed?”
State government was preferred by 31 percent of Californians, and federal government oversight was preferred by 23 percent of respondents. About 15 percent were not sure; 8 percent stated no one should make the decision; and 3 percent stated that car manufacturers should be responsible.
To judge how open Californians were to purchase a self-driving vehicle, the pollsters asked: “If a driverless car were for sale in California, if it were legal to own one, would you feel safe in one?”
Californians, by a majority of more than two-to-one, believe the technology is not ready for local roads in their neighborhoods, with autonomous vehicles rated “very unsafe” by 32 percent of respondents. 31 percent said the cars were merely unsafe; 19 percent said they were safe; 12 percent were not sure; and 7 percent said they were very safe.
Breitbart News reported that on Tuesday morning a Tesla Model S sedan in Autopilot self-driving mode veered into an unoccupied and parked police Laguna Beach Police SUV in a non-residential area of Laguna Canyon Road.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, the Tesla driver only suffered minor injuries and refused to be transported to Laguna Beach’s Mission Hospital, but the police cruiser was a total loss.
Tesla has won a string of five-star ratings from the National Transportation Safety Board over the last six years. However, recently, a Utah woman who was distracted while her Model S was operating in autopilot mode smashed into the back of a fire truck. In another recent incident, a Tesla Model X SUV in autopilot mode in March drove into a concrete freeway median near Mountain View, killing the driver and sparking an National Transportation Safety Board investigation.