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Belgium loses confidence in self-driving vehicles

A Tesla X driving on autopilot. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Belgian drivers’ confidence in autonomous cars is on the decline due in part to media reports of incidents involving a self-driving vehicle, a new road safety institute survey showed.

Conducted by the VIAS institute, the survey found that the percentage of people who believed self-driving cars cannot avoid an accident rose from 20% in 2017 to 29% in this year’s survey.

The “over mediatisation of certain accidents” had a negative impact on the public’s confidence in the technology, with only 18% of respondents declaring that having more self-driving vehicles would cause fewer accidents, down from 23% in 2017.

The survey questioned a representative sample of 1,000 Belgians and was conducted for a second time since 2017 to test consumer temperature as more carmakers develop autonomous fleets.

This year’s survey further showed that 40% of respondents declared seeing no benefit in self-driving cars, while 17% of respondents in Flanders said it made driving less stressful.

Differences between the regions and between the genders also emerged from the survey, which showed that Flemish drivers (22%) were more optimistic about the technology’s capacity to reduce accidents than Walloons (13%).

Only 4 in 10 Belgians believe that an all-autonomous vehicle fleet will be a reality, a future in which nearly half of men surveyed (48%) expressed more confidence in, as opposed to 34% of women.

In case of an accident with an autonomous car, more than half of respondents (53%) said that manufacturers should bear responsibility, with only 1 in 3 respondents (32%) saying that the driver would be responsible, despite steering being fully automated.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times