Are parents ready to use autonomous vehicles to transport children? Concerns and safety features

J Safety Res. 2020 Feb;72:287-297. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2019.12.025. Epub 2020 Jan 23.


Introduction: This study addressed a gap in the literature - the potential of using autonomous vehicles (AV) to enhance children's mobility. Prior studies documented the perceived benefits and concerns about this prospect, but did not examine the features in AV and support mechanisms that are desired by potential users.

Method: An on-line survey was used to collect public opinions within the United States. In the survey, willingness to use AVs for this use case was asked twice to assess if participants changed their mind after being asked about concerns related to this prospect and importance of car features. A combination of statistical and machine-learning methods were used to profile individuals with high versus low post-willingness and to identify variables that differentiated the two groups.

Results: Results indicated that respondents who were lower on their post-willingness to use AVs to transport children were more concerned about how AVs would protect children, how someone could harm the children inside, and whether there would be someone at the destination. In addition, they were less in favor of technology, older in age, and rated car features such as having a designated adult waiting at destination, a camera, and a microphone as relatively required (as opposed to optional). These results highlight potential users' needs and requirements as they think about AVs in the context of parent-children mobility practices. Practical Applications: Relevant stakeholders should develop deployment and implementation plans while taking into account ridership contexts and vulnerable road users who can benefit from enhanced mobility.

Keywords: Autonomous vehicle; Children’s mobility; Ridership context; Safety; Vulnerable road users.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Automation*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Transportation* / methods
  • United States
  • Young Adult