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article imageSelf-driving cars may increase commuter stress levels

By Tim Sandle     Sep 20, 2019 in Technology
U.S. citizens, based on a research study, indicate they would rather drive themselves than have an autonomous vehicle drive them. This is due to increased levels of stress stemming from longer transit times.
Scientists based at the University of Washington have looked into how U.S. citizens perceive travelling to work, either using ride-hailing schemes, driving themselves, or (future state) autonomous car services, as assessed against the cost of commute time. The research revealed that people see a ride-hailing service, like Lyft or Uber, as at least 13 percent "less expensive," in terms of time, compared to driving themselves, and considerably less expensive than an autonomous car service (even if the service was to be provided by the same ride-hailing company in the future). The researchers polled 502 people, and used a scenario of a 15-mile commute trip.
When the researchers informed those surveyed that the ride-hailing service was driverless, then the cost of travel time rose by 15 percent longer compared with driving a personal car (primarily due to the enhanced safety features). This suggests that people would rather drive themselves than have an autonomous vehicle drive them.
In terms of expressing this in terms of money, ride-hailing services scored an average of $21 an hour and driving scored $25 an hour. However, the cost of being in an autonomous car, due to the longer time spent in transit, rose to $28 per hour.
The frustration with a longer transit time is also likely to manifest itself into higher stress levels. According to lead researcher Dr. Don MacKenzie: "The idea here is that 'time is money,' so the overall cost of driving includes both the direct financial costs and the monetary equivalent of time spent traveling."
He adds that: "The average person in our sample would find riding in a driverless car to be more burdensome than driving themselves. This highlights the risks of making forecasts based on how people say they would respond to driverless cars today."
The research findings are published in the journal Transportation, with the research paper headed "Would being driven by others affect the value of travel time? Ridehailing as an analogy for automated vehicles."
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