Canadian drivers concerned about vehicles with autonomous features: CAA

By: Lisa Coxon on May 27, 2019

The majority of Canadians are hesitant about vehicles with autonomous and connected features, such as bluetooth connection, automatic emergency braking, and lane assist, according to a CAA poll.

“These are the building blocks that will lead to fully autonomous vehicles one day,” said Jeff Walker, chief strategy officer at CAA National in a news release, “yet the vast majority of Canadians are not familiar with the technology – and that leads naturally to them having concerns.”

That’s not to say that Canadian drivers don’t see the benefits of autonomous vehicles (AVs). More than 55% of Canadians believe they’re useful.

But the poll, which surveyed 2,006 Canadians last December, revealed that 61% expressed concerns about accountability (i.e. who would be held responsible in the event of an accident); 59% said they are concerned about the ability for people to “hack” the vehicle; and 53% are concerned that a third party could access the driver data that’s generated with the assistance of these features.

Even with wireless vehicle technology like the key fob, there have been instances of “signal boosting,” where thieves intercept the signals of car key fobs (often stored by the front door of someone’s home) and reroute them so they can start and steal the vehicle.

Much of the concerns can be chalked up to a lack of understanding. Prior CAA research has revealed that 83% of Canadian drivers admitted to only having a “vague knowledge” of autonomous technology.

To change that, CAA has launched an online tool called Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, which includes information about AVs, including their risks, as well as timelines for when new technology will be implemented.

“The transition to autonomous vehicles will likely happen gradually," said Walker. “In the long run, AVs will save lives since collisions will be much fewer and far between, and they will allow seniors or others with limited mobility the opportunity to regain independence."