Report: Women Are More Wary of Self-Driving Cars Than Men

Overall, the majority of both men and women still have their concerns

Self Driving Cars
Women don't love the idea of self-driving cars
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / August 8, 2019 12:22 pm

Self-driving cars are coming, and they’re supposed to bring safer roads and better transportation access with them. However, the majority of people are still nervous about the rise of fully autonomous vehicles, with concerns significantly higher among women than men.

A recent AAA study found that 71 percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving cars, but women are particularly uncomfortable with the idea. Broken down by gender, the study found that 79 percent of women were afraid to take a spin in a fully autonomous car, while only 62 percent of men said the same.

The researchers didn’t provide any information as to why this may be the case, but, as Axios noted, this gender gap has also appeared elsewhere. A 2017 study by researchers at MIT’s Age Lab found that 53 percent of women would prefer to have a “help driver” on board a self-driving car, compared to just 32 percent of men. Only 14.3 percent of women said they would be comfortable in a car with full autonomy, while 30 percent of men said the same.

This gender gap could have its origins in the fact that self-driving cars have been primarily designed by men, NYU professor Meredith Broussard told Axios. According to Axios’s Joanne Muller, this kind of gender bias has long been an issue in the tech world, and leaves women at an increased risk of danger or safety concerns at the hands of products that are, in effect, designed for male users.

While women’s concerns about self-driving cars seem to stem from fears of technical malfunctions, women also had concerns about personal safety, especially when it comes to sharing a driverless car with strangers. TEAGUE, a Seattle-based design consultancy, offered some ideas that may help women feel safer in shared self-driving vehicles, including mounted cameras and microphones throughout the cars and a preset feature that would allow passengers to redirect the car to a police station in an emergency.

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