The vast majority of the 286,000 over 50s who intend to purchase a car in the next 12 months cite autonomous safety features such as breaking assistance (72%) and blind spot warning systems (67%) as important.
And it seems the older generations are early adopters of new technology with almost one in ten (9%) of those looking at a new car purchase saying they intend to buy a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.
However, according to research by Saga Car Insurance , the over 50s aren’t ready to take their hands off the steering wheel just yet. Although almost half (48%) thought there would be mobility benefits to driverless technology, the survey of almost 10,000 shows that nearly three in five (57%) wouldn’t trust a driverless car compared to under half (49%) who said the same around a year ago2.
With the Government keen on advancing autonomous vehicle technology through investment in testing and infrastructure, it is clear that more needs to be done to reassure the public if they want people to adopt the technology. Opinions from the North East have seen the biggest negative swing with 62% of over 50s there saying they wouldn’t trust a driverless car compared to just 50% less than a year ago. This is closely followed by those in Yorkshire (62% up from 51%) and Wales (63% up from 52%).
There has also been a decline in the number of over 50s who say they would be happy to be a passenger in a driverless vehicle – 21% compared to 23% in 2016. However, men are more likely to let a computer do the driving with almost a quarter (24%) being happy to sit in the passenger seat compared to just 17% of women.
Those surveyed also expressed concern about the impact vehicle autonomy could have on employment opportunities – almost two-thirds (59%) felt driverless cars could leave the likes of taxi drivers and couriers out of a job.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, of the 18% who said they were coming round to the idea of driverless cars – compared to 20% who said the same last year – the only positive shift in opinion comes from popular testing ground London with a quarter (25%) of over 50s in the capital now saying they are less sceptical compared to 23% last year.
Roger Ramsden, Chief Executive of Saga Car Insurance, commented:
“Whilst it seems car manufacturers have their work cut out in order to convince people to take their hands off the steering wheel, it is encouraging that the over 50s are keen to adopt new technology and that they recognise the potential mobility benefits of driverless vehicles.
“Driverless cars could be on our roads in less than 10 years so people will understandably want assurances about safety. Equally, the insurance industry has a huge challenge ahead of it to define a framework that delivers clear and simple liability terms. We look forward to meeting this challenge alongside the Government, vehicle manufacturers, regulators and the legal community to continue to provide products that meet peoples’ needs.”