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Poll: Public Concerned Over Autonomous Vehicles

The federal government needs to set more controls and standards for autonomous vehicles to ensure safest operation, according to a new poll by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

According to the poll of 1,005 adults in the U.S., about 64% said they’re concerned about sharing the road with so-called self-driving vehicles.

President Cathy Chase says legislation in the U.S. House and Senate “lack basic safeguards,” Chase argued, and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) so far only voluntary guidelines issued for driverless vehicles aren’t enforceable. Across the nation, A larger amount — three out of four — said they’d be uncomfortable with automakers disabling vehicle controls like the steering wheel and brake/gas pedals without review and approval from DOT to do so.

The group also expressed concern over a supposed lack of cybersecurity/computer standards for autonomous vehicles as well as the possibility that they could be over-commercialized. In the poll, 81% of respondents supported enacting cybersecurity rules to protect driverless vehicles from hacking.

That mirrors a potential problem with self-driving vehicles often voiced in the trucking and automotive industries, points out Fleet Owner in an article about the poll results.

Asked whether the group believes that higher or additional standards should be required for autonomous heavy trucks, since their potential for harmful use would be greater, Advocates said its goal is just getting any solid cybersecurity standards in place.

“Cybersecurity is a concern for all modes of autonomous transportation including passenger cars and large trucks. What we want are strong cybersecurity requirements at all, because currently there are none,” Shaun Kildare, the group’s director of research, told Fleet Owner.

The group also cited the difficulty in enacting standards via the legislative process as technology being used in autonomous vehicles is advancing and changing so rapidly that it’s difficult to keep up.

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