Budget: £100m pledged for driverless cars is welcome news but public education and awareness campaign needed

The chancellor George Osborne has announced in today’s Budget an extra £100 million ‘to stay ahead in the race to driverless technology’ within the UK.

Welcoming this news, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), is also advising that investment is needed to shift public opinion and understanding of driverless cars.

An IET survey of 2,023 adults found that demand for driverless cars is most likely to come from men and those in London.

But even then public acceptance is not high as the survey shows that just a quarter of men (25 per cent) would definitely consider using a driverless car, while only 16 per cent of women would do so.

In terms of age, over 45s are the least likely to embrace driverless cars (42 per cent of 45-54s and 42 per cent of 55-75s). This is worrying given it is the older generation that stand to benefit more in terms of increased mobility.

People in London are the most likely to be interested in driverless cars (25 per cent would definitely consider one), compared to 18 per cent in the Midlands.

Sahar Danesh from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: “Driverless vehicles have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network but there is clearly a lot to do before people are won over.

“The survey shows that younger drivers are the most undecided about driverless cars. So there is a great opportunity here to educate this age group about the benefits and potential offered by this new technology.

“The benefits of driverless cars are improved road safety, reduced congestion and lower emissions.

“Wider public acceptance and trust are crucial, particularly for the older generation, who stand to benefit hugely with increased mobility, so the trials that started earlier this year must get to grips with the best ways to win over everyone – from car manufacturers to consumers – to the benefits of driverless cars.”

Notes to editors:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed an online quota sample of 2,023 adults aged 16-75 across Great Britain using i:omnibus, Ipsos MORI’s online omnibus. Interviews took place between 9 and 14 January 2015.  Data is weighted by age, gender, region, working status and social grade to match the profile of the target audience. Of this sample: 986 respondents were male and 1,037 were female; 240 respondents were in London and 534 were in the Midlands; and 383 respondents were aged 45-54 and 592 were aged 55-75.
  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • For more information, visit www.theiet.org
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.