05:00 AM

Are European Drivers Ready to Give up the Wheel?

Brussels, 29 November 2016

Technology is emerging so that we can climb into our cars, enter a destination, and sit back and relax as the driving is done for us. This could be the future of mobility with autonomous vehicles (AVs), and Goodyear is helping drivers to "think ahead" to the roads of tomorrow.

As one of the world's largest tire manufacturers, we want to know what drivers think about AVs. In collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), we conducted a study to find out about their attitudes using an online survey in 11 European countries and focus groups in four European countries. Here is what we learned: 
• Comfort. Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents said that they would be comfortable using an AV themselves, while 29% said that they would be comfortable driving alongside one. Conversely, 44% feel uncomfortable about using an AV, whilst 41% feel uncomfortable about driving alongside one.  

• Safety. Twice as many respondents agreed (43%) than disagreed (19%) that AVs would be safer, since most accidents are caused by human error. However, concerns about AV technology persist, with 73% of respondents fearing that "autonomous vehicles could malfunction." 

• Behavior. Focus group participants expected AVs to be "well-behaved" and abide by the rules of the road. They saw the potential for AVs to "weed out" the "bad behavior" of other drivers. And almost twice as many survey respondents agreed (37%) as disagreed (21%) that "machines don't have emotions so they might be better drivers than humans." At the same time, 60% were concerned that "machines don't have the common sense needed to interact with human drivers."

 Sociability. The respondents most open to AVs are those who, on average, have a more "combative" view of the road and are anxious about the behavior of other drivers. The respondents least open to AVs are those who, on average, are more sociable drivers who enjoy their interactions with other drivers.  

• Control. 70% of respondents agreed that "as a point of principle, humans should be in control of their vehicles." And 80% would want AVs to have a steering wheel. 

• Innovation. A clear majority of respondents (64%) were in favor of "smart tires" with intelligent sensors capable of assessing road and weather conditions in AVs. 

• Leisure. Becoming leisurely passengers on the road with time to relax or work was a possibility readily discussed by focus group participants. Although many (82%) survey respondents reported that they would struggle to let go and would prefer to keep aware of the road around them.
These results come as no surprise to Goodyear. Carlos Cipollitti, General Director of the Goodyear Innovation Centre in Luxembourg, said: "AVs are coming. Understanding how drivers experience the road today and how they feel AVs should fit in is crucial. Goodyear is exploring some of the key areas that are shaping the future of mobility. We hope that the insights generated by this research will help all relevant stakeholders to work together towards a successful introduction of AVs."

Dr. Chris Tennant, who led the project for LSE, explains: "AVs are not simply another new technology. They are emerging in an intensely social space with a wide range of factors influencing the public's levels of openness towards them."

The study is part of Goodyear's ThinkGoodMobility​ platform. It was conducted using a combination of focus groups in 4 European countries with 48 participants, and an online survey with approximately 12,000 respondents in 11 European countries. It builds on widely reported research with LSE in 2015 that explored the social behavior of drivers on the road. 

Goodyear envisions a future in which our products will become more connected with the vehicle itself, other vehicles and infrastructure. In this context, our research in EMEA contributes to the wider debates on the future of mobility and road safety.

Country Snapshots

• Polish and French respondents expressed the greatest level of belief, on average, that AVs would be safer than conventional cars.
• French and German respondents expressed the greatest level of concern, on average, about the lack of human control in AVs, while Dutch respondents were the least concerned.
• UK and Polish respondents expressed the greatest level of belief, on average, that machines don't have emotions so they might be better drivers than humans, whereas Belgian respondents the lowest.
• Czech respondents expressed the greatest level of concern, on average, that AVs lack the common sense required to interact with human drivers, whereas Italians were the least concerned.
• Czech respondents would miss the enjoyment of driving the most, while Dutch respondents were the least concerned about this loss.

11 European Countries Surveyed

• Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Serbia, France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

About ThinkGoodMobility

ThinkGoodMobility is a content and knowledge platform empowered by Goodyear on smart, safe and sustainable mobility.

About LSE

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is one of the foremost social science universities in the world.

LSE is a specialist university with an international intake and a global reach. Its research and teaching span the full breadth of the social sciences, from economics, politics and law to sociology, anthropology, accounting and finance.

Founded in 1895, the School has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence. 16 Nobel Prize winners have been LSE staff or alumni. The School has a cosmopolitan student body, with around 9,500 full time students from 140 countries. LSE has a staff of over 3,000, with about 46 per cent drawn from countries outside the UK.

Contact LSE:

• Rehanna Neky, Marketing and Communications Manager, +44 20 7852 3711, R.Neky@lse.ac.uk


• Download the full study and infographic​ on the ThinkGoodMobility website
• ThinkGoodMobility: Millennials' view on the Future of Mobility in Europe​, a 2015 survey from ThinkYoung and Goodyear.
• Executive summary of The Ripple Effect of Drivers' Behavior on the Road​​, a 2015 study from LSE and Goodyear.
• Available upon request: previous road safety surveys commissioned by Goodyear