Would you feel comfortable heading off to work or traveling down the shore in a car that was driving itself?

For many Garden State residents, the answer to that question is no.

An effort has been launched to answer questions about automated vehicle technology, and try to put everybody’s mind at ease.

The Partners for Automated Vehicle Education initiative includes the National Safety Council, automakers, technology and safety companies and AAA.

According to Tracy Noble, a spokeswoman for AAA/MidAtlantic, fully automated vehicles have the potential to make driving a lot safer than it is right now but “consumers still do not trust autonomous vehicles. so there needs to be a lot of education and understanding as to what the technology can and cannot do.”

She stressed developing cars that drive themselves makes sense.

“We believe they have the potential to make (driving) safer because they will take the guesswork out and they will eliminate the distractions," she said.

Noble pointed out a lot of automated vehicle technology is already in new cars today, such as emergency braking systems, lane-keeping assistant systems and adaptive cruise control.

"Some vehicles feature technologies where you can simply take your hands off the wheel, and they are almost on an autopilot," she said.

We are still many years away from having this technology in all cars on the road — some people are keeping their vehicles for a decade or longer.

Noble said one problem with increasing knowledge about automated vehicle safety is “there are no common names right now for all of these advanced driver-assistance systems.”

“We need some commonality so that consumers can get a better understanding about what their vehicle offers, and maybe when they get into a rental car what it’s called in that system," she said.

In the coming months and years, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education plans to sponsor hands-on workshops so people can personally experience and learn about automated vehicle safety.

The Governors Highway Safety Association plans to discuss automated vehicle safety at its annual meeting later this month in Anaheim, California.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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