Drivers want automakers to improve the performance of existing driver support features rather than develop self-driving cars, according to a new American Automobile Association (AAA) survey.

Consumers surveyed told AAA they are more interested in improved vehicle safety systems (77%) versus self-driving cars (18%).

The results of the study follow new tests by the AAA which reveals that inconsistent performance remains a problem with available driving assistance systems.

New testing, the third round by AAA’s Automotive Engineering team in the last few years, found that vehicles with an active driving assistance system failed to consistently avoid crashes with another car or bicycle during 15 test runs.  A foam car similar to a small hatchback and a bicyclist dummy was used for the testing.

The AAA is urging automakers to listen to consumers and improve what is currently available before focusing on future technology.

“You can’t sell consumers on the future if they don’t trust the present,” said Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering. “And drivers tell us they expect their current driving assistance technology to perform safely all the time. But unfortunately, our testing demonstrates spotty performance is the norm rather than the exception.”

Active driving assistance systems are widely available and often called semi-autonomous because they combine vehicle acceleration with braking and steering. Since 2016, AAA has surveyed consumers about driving assistance systems and self-driving cars to track sentiment regarding emerging vehicle technology.

Meanwhile, consumer distrust of fully self-driving vehicles remains high. AAA found 85 per cent fearful or unsure of self-driving technology, a level that has remained steady for the past several years. When transporting their children or loved ones, 85 per cent also said they would not be comfortable with using a self-driving vehicle.