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These Are the States That Are Really Scared of Self-Driving Cars

Google and Tesla are going to have a hard time in the South.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

For companies building driverless cars, the benefits are abundantly clear: Smarter vehicles, safer roads, fewer deaths.

But for many people unfamiliar with artificial intelligence technology, it’s not so clear. Some might just be reticent about futuristic vehicles. Others might be downright terrified of cars that can drive themselves.

A new survey of drivers across the U.S., out today from automotive site, suggests that the general populace may lean toward the latter camp. They polled 5,000 drivers online from every state. The survey asked: “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the least, and 10 being the most, how much would you trust self-driving technology once it hits the market?”


Not much, it turns out. Responses, grouped by state, averaged 4.8 on the scale, with no state above 7. States that have actually seen self-driving cars on the road (California, Nevada and Michigan), appear to be the most trusting.

Do note that this is a very rudimentary survey. For one, it doesn’t give any insight into why people don’t trust the cars. It could be, for lack of a better term, the Tesla problem, where drivers pushed self-driving features beyond their safety horizon. Over the weekend, Tesla curbed its autopilot function from residential streets.

More rigorous academic studies (like this one) suggest that drivers are primarily concerned with guarantees of safety and price for self-driving cars. Once those are proven, however, people grow more willing to embrace them. That’s why companies behind self-driving vehicles, primarily Google, are so concerned with proving the safety point.

This article originally appeared on