(Media release from AAA – The Auto Club Group):

Concerns about self-driving cars are significantly higher than last year, according to an annual automated vehicle survey just released by AAA. The survey reveals 68% of drivers are afraid of riding in a self-driving vehicle. That’s up from 55% in 2022, and the largest annual increase since 2020.

“We did not expect such a dramatic shift in consumer concerns from previous years,” said Montrae Waiters, AAA-The Auto Club Group spokeswoman. “Though it isn’t entirely surprising, given the number of high-profile crashes that have recently occurred from over-reliance on current vehicle technologies.”

Dispelling Confusion Around Automated Vehicles

Even with advancements made in recent years, these findings suggest the need to dispel confusion around automated vehicles. AAA’s survey found that nearly one in ten drivers believe they can buy a vehicle that drives itself while they sleep. That is not true.

While this perception could stem from social media videos of drivers apparently misusing driver assistance technology, our survey shows that the names manufacturers have given their vehicle systems are confusing consumers. AAA found that 22% of Americans expect driver support systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself without any supervision, indicating a gap in consumer understanding.

“Most new vehicles are equipped with some level of advanced driver assistance technology, which can enhance the safety of motorists if used properly,” Waiters continued. “However, it’s important to clarify that there are currently no vehicles available for purchase that allow someone to fully disengage from the task of driving.”

What are Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)?

Consumers are not entirely opposed to advanced vehicle technology. In fact, six in ten U.S. drivers would “definitely” or “probably” want these systems in their next car purchase.

  • Examples of ADAS include blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. Check out AAA’s, Clearing the Confusion, which provides naming and descriptions of ADAS in a consistent, easy-to-understand manner.
  • Active driving assistance (ADA) combines the tasks of braking, accelerating, and steering through the combined use of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. ADA is classified as Level 2 automation – the highest level of vehicle automation available for purchase by the public. This technology is not meant to replace the driver. Recent AAA research has found inconsistencies with ADA performance, reinforcing the need for a driver to remain fully engaged.

What is a fully self-driving vehicle?

  • A vehicle capable of operating without human involvement. A human driver is not required to control the vehicle at any time, nor required to be present in the vehicle while moving. These vehicles are not available for purchase by consumers and are classified as Level 5 automation as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

“AAA seeks to partner with automakers to create greater consistency across the industry,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive research for AAA. “Together, we can help consumers understand the type of technology their vehicle has along with how, when, and where to use these systems, which will ultimately build trust in the vehicles of the future.” 

*AAA has conducted its annual Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Survey since 2016; data is not comparable to years prior to 2021 due to change in methodology.


The survey was conducted January 13-17, 2023, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone.

A total of 1,140 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older, of which 949 qualified for the study. The margin of error for the study overall is 4.3% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.