Self-driving cars are inevitable, whether the auto marketers are ready for them or not.

Are you scared of a driverless car? According to a recent poll by market research firm Harris Interactive, the answer is “Yes” It says that nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are fearful about riding in driverless cars, citing concerns over hardware and software failures (Are they failure proof?), as well as security issues stemming from mischievous malware and hackers hell bent on causing chaos.

All legit quibbles. But issues that will be addressed in time. People tend to fear the unknown and, to date, few people have actually experienced Advanced Driver Assistance System technologies like lane departure warnings, emergency mitigated braking, or adaptive cruise control, let alone rode in a car that actually drives itself with little to no input from a human.

So why then should people trust their lives and the lives of family and friends to a vehicle that drives itself? The short answer: Safety experts and techy futurists tell you to that driverless automobiles will eventually make our roads safer, by eliminating the bad driving behaviors practiced every day by rude, inattentive, and just plain inexperienced motorists; i.e., human beings behaving badly. Remove the threat of driver error from the equation – by taking the driver out of the equation – and you have safer roadways, or so pundits believe. People are inept, incompetent, reckless and lazy. They get fatigued. Their judgment is frequently flawed. They are easily distracted. Computers are more reliable and more consistent, and they never get tired or distracted.

They are right; self-driving cars will someday do all of those things. But not until the research and development of self-driving matches the marketing fantasy. And that’s where marketers are lacking.

The Harris poll points out something more important than simply “driverless cars freak people out.” It tells us that the proponents leading the driverless charge are far from doing a passable job differentiating between the driverless cars of their fantasies and the one that will someday very soon become reality. Most marketers seem to be as clueless about the building blocks of autonomous driving as consumers are. This has to change. And education about how these technologies work and can elevate your driving experience has got to improve.




About Chuck Tannert:

Chuck Tannert is a seasoned journalist and digital content strategist with more than 20 years’ experience in the publishing business. While “things with wheels” has been a primary focus and passion of his for a long time, Chuck has envisioned, written and/or edited stories on a wide variety of subjects including entertainment, fashion, fishing, grooming, gastronomy, mixology, pop culture, politics, relationships, sports, technology and travel, for a wide variety of national publications and websites including Cargo, CNET, Fast CompanyMen’s FitnessMen’s Journal, MSN, Popular MechanicsPopular Science, Yahoo! Autos, and many more. You can follow him on Twitter @Oversized_Guy or Facebook: Chuck Tannert