British Columbians Doubt Self-Driving Cars Are Safe: UBC Study

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British Columbians Doubt Self-Driving Cars Are Safe: UBC Study

The future of transportation is on its way, and it will arrive on four wheels but without a driver. Self-driving cars, often known as autonomous vehicles (AVs), promise to revolutionise how we travel.

However, according to a recent survey by the University of British Columbia (UBC), citizens of British Columbia (BC) are concerned about the safety of these high-tech vehicles.

Manufacturers have advertised self-driving vehicles as enhancing road safety, even being safer than most automobiles since they eliminate “human error.” 

However, recent data from the University of British Columbia’s Data on Active Transportation (REACT) Lab indicates that British Columbians are not completely convinced, particularly regarding pedestrian comfort and safety. 

Walking and cycling are being encouraged as active ways of transportation alongside the development of self-driving vehicles. 

A UBC Study Reveals Mixed Sentiments On Self-Driving Car Safety

Credit: AP

“There is this feeling of being unsafe, which may change the behavior of these active users… they might decide not to walk as often,” said Gurdiljot Singh Gill, the study’s civil engineering Ph.D. candidate. 

He further added, “We also do not want these vehicles to be introduced in a way that discourages people from engaging in certain behaviors. Our project is about learning how people would interact with these vehicles and how we can inform policy to introduce these vehicles responsibly.” 

A Survey At UBC Found British Columbians ArenCredit: Global News

The study intends to fill a void. While much research has been conducted on self-driving vehicles, few have examined how people will interact with them. Participants were required to watch video clips depicting people interacting with vehicles.

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Half were classified as self-driven, while the other half were labelled human-driven, even though they were all human-driven. The study was constructed in this manner in order to discover bias.

Among the 1,133 people polled across British Columbia, 41% believed pedestrians faced decreased safety and comfort during interactions with self-driving vehicles.

According to Gill, one of the most important lessons from the study was how the cars should be launched.

A Survey At UBC Found British Columbians ArenCredit: Canva

“We asked people questions like, ‘Do you want a person in the driver’s seat of a self-driving vehicle?’ and more than 75% said yes,” he said.

In addition to having someone in the driver’s seat and identifying vehicles, the team determined that introducing self-driving vehicles would be ideal via shared vehicles such as shuttles or buses.

“I thought people would be either strongly skeptical or optimistic, but that does not seem to be the case,” Gill said. 

What do you think about it? Do let us know in the comments.

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