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Public discomfort at the prospect of autonomous vehicles: Building on previous surveys to measure attitudes in 11 countries

Tennant, C., Stares, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-4697-0347 and Howard, S. (2019). Public discomfort at the prospect of autonomous vehicles: Building on previous surveys to measure attitudes in 11 countries. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 64, pp. 98-118. doi: 10.1016/j.trf.2019.04.017


There have been many surveys of public responses to Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), both reported in peer-reviewed journals and in the mainstream media. People anchor their representations of novel technological objects within their existing experience. What elements of such experience anchor AVs? We review academic English language survey studies from 2015 to 2017 and surveys publicised in UK National newspapers which typically reveal discomfort about the prospect of AVs. Against this background we report the results of our own survey of 11,827 drivers across 11 European countries, addressing attitudes to driving alongside AVs as well as to riding in them. We establish a composite indicator of perceptions of AVs that combines responses on using AVs and sharing the road with them, and analyse its relationship with a set of covariate measures. Respondents’ technological optimism and uptake of driving technology was associated with more positive perceptions of AVs, and measures of respondents’ enjoyment of driving, and how ‘sociable’ they were towards fellow road users, was associated with more negative perceptions. The negative association between driving ‘sociability’ and enthusiasm for AVs was attenuated by levels of general technological optimism. We discuss the difficulties in researching public responses to novel technological objects and make suggestions for improvement in future survey research on AVs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Crown Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Autonomous vehicles, Public attitudes, Technology resistance Driving sociability, Technological optimism, Survey instruments
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 17 May 2020 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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