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One in four Canadians look forward to self-driving cars

Kanetix.ca releases new survey findings on Canadians' views on autonomous driving


January 4, 2017
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TORONTO—At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, running from January 5-8, 2017, the reality of driverless cars on our roads will accelerate. But, how ready are Canadians to hand over the controls? Kanetix.ca has released new survey findings of Canadians’ attitudes on the (not so) futuristic vehicles.

One in four (26 percent) of Canadians said they couldn’t wait for the day when driverless cars would be reality, up slightly from last year when 25 percent said the same. Many drivers however remain neutral on the idea, with 56 per cent saying it would depend on the technology and how well it works, compared to 52 percent last year. Only 18 percent said no thanks, they love driving too much, down from 23 percent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the younger demographic, age 18 to 34, are the most excited about driverless cars, with 36 percent saying they can’t wait for the day.

“Technology is continually improving and innovating, and we’ve already seen auto manufacturers incorporate self-driving safety aspects in some existing vehicles, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) or sensors that temporarily control steering to avoid collisions,” said Andrew Lo, COO and tech expert at Kanetix.ca. “It’s still a jump for most people to make in terms of going completely driverless but Canadians are interested in these improved safety features and, as a result, seem willing to slowly adopt more automated functions.”

Indeed, the survey finds that 59 percent of Canadians would buy or lease a car with improved self-driving safety features; features like front crash prevention, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and blind spot detection to name just a few. Some features could even help lower auto insurance premiums.

“Some of these improved safety features have caught the eye of insurers,” said Lo. “Aviva Canada recently announced that policyholders who drive vehicles equipped with AEB will be eligible to receive a 15 percent auto insurance discount. It’s expected that more insurers will follow.”

But while Canadians may not be entirely ready for a fully driverless experience, the overwhelming majority increasingly believe that autonomous cars will have a positive impact on our roads. Eighty-one percent agree it will eliminate the threat of distracted driving, 73 percent say it will reduce accidents and auto-related fatalities, and 68 percent agree it will increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Less than half, however, feel that reduced traffic will be a benefit.

When it comes to the driving experience, Quebecers are the most likely (71 percent) to say driverless cars will bring an improvement, while only 55 percent in Atlantic Canada agree.

Canadians feel they have plenty of time before driverless cars will be available to the public; 80 percent say it won’t happen for another 15 or more years.

The Kanetix.ca survey was conducted online in December 2016 with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Canadians. A sample of this size is accurate to within +/-3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.