Car parts manufacturer CARiD has released a survey detailing the opinions of Americans on autonomous vehicles, which reveals that US consumers believe autonomous vehicles will be introduced to roads much more slowly, and on a much smaller scale, than many industry experts think.

The study, ‘How do Americans feel about autonomous driving?’ collected responses from 1,034 individuals across a range of age groups, genders, economic backgrounds and income levels. The majority of respondents were over 60 (34.04%), followed by those aged 30-44 (27.56%); those aged 18-29 and 45-60 only made up 37.67% of respondents combined. The most popular income bracket among respondents was those with an annual income of $25,000-$49,999 (17.7%), followed by those earning between $50,000 and $74,999 annually (16.83).

The report’s initial suggestion is that consumers are less well-informed than might have been assumed; only 48% of respondents correctly identified an autonomous vehicle as one controlled entirely by autonomous technology, and just over a third, 35%, have seen or heard a story about autonomous vehicles in the media within the last month.

Respondents also considered the presence of autonomous vehicles to be a long-term development, with the largest group – 30% of respondents – saying that it would take 20 years for most vehicles on US roads to be autonomous, and another 29% suggesting it would take ten years. 55% of those surveyed also said that autonomous vehicles would greatly reduce, but not eliminate, collisions and injuries, suggesting that for many people, autonomous vehicles are still an incomplete technology.

Similarly, almost half of respondents said they would feel unsafe riding in an autonomous vehicle, with 29% saying they would feel ‘somewhat’ unsafe and almost a quarter, 24%, feeling ‘very’ unsafe.

Two-thirds of respondents said that they thought the US Government would have to be involved in regulating autonomous vehicles, implying that a new political framework may have to be developed to properly integrate the vehicles into society.

Most respondents – 71% – said they would miss driving in a fully autonomous world, with 75% saying that given the choice between riding autonomously and driving, they would still drive. This suggests people’s personal preference for driving would need to be changed, rather than economic or infrastructural changes, if autonomous vehicles are to become as widespread as some have predicted.

“Overall, the results of the study mirrored what we expected the public response to be regarding autonomous vehicles, especially in regard to safety,” said CARiD product training director Richard Reina.

“With that being said, there were some points in particular that stood out. One of the more revealing findings to me was the gaps in knowledge that some respondents had when it comes to self-driving technology.

“There is certainly no lack of news coverage on the topic, so this seemed to suggest that despite frequent media coverage and this information being available, these individuals simply aren’t interested enough in the topic to learn more.”