Consumers Love the Idea of Self-Driving Cars For One Reason

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Fabrizio Bensch / REUTERS

The vast majority of us are uneasy about the prospect of being in a car that’s driving itself. But the jitters seem to go away if self-driving technology will save us a bundle on car insurance.

In a recent survey conducted for the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, only 18% of the adults polled said they’d be interested in purchasing a car with self-driving capabilities—the kind of tech being pioneered by Google, among other companies. The most common reason given for not wanting to buy into the technology, cited by two-thirds of those who responded in the negative, was that “they wouldn’t feel safe being a driver in name only,” according to a Forbes post about the survey.

A newer poll from also found that only roughly 1 in 5 drivers are fully ready for self-driving technology. “About 20 percent of drivers said they would buy a fully autonomous car if one were available,” the report stated.

But it’s amazing how much more comfortable drivers are with self-driving cars when they help you save money. In the same survey, drivers were asked if they would consider a self-driving car if owning one meant an 80% discount on their usual auto insurance premiums. Nine out of ten drivers polled answered yes. Apparently, perceived risk is a lot easier to swallow if it means lower bills.

“Our survey shows cheaper insurance will greatly influence consumer acceptance,” said managing editor Des Toups, per The Detroit Bureau.

(MORE: Big Data Is My Copilot: Auto Insurers Push Devices That Track Driving Habits)

Interestingly, the reason that autonomous vehicles could theoretically be accompanied by cheaper insurance premiums is that they are projected to be much safer than cars with humans in control. While 75% of drivers in the CarInsurance survey said that they could drive an automobile better than a computer, a new paper from the Eno Center for Transportation states plainly, “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to dramatically reduce crashes.”

It is believed that more than 90% of traffic accidents are the result of driver error. Researchers estimate that if just 10% of the cars in the U.S. were autonomous, there would be 211,000 fewer accidents annually, and 1,100 lives would be saved each year. If the rate of self-driving vehicles goes up to 90%, each year accidents would be decreased by 4.2 million, and 21,700 people wouldn’t die due to road crashes, according to the study.