Driving assessment

Traffic laws will let you watch TV in self-driving cars

the Traffic Laws is to be updated this year with rules for “self-driving“cars that will allow drivers to watch TV and check email on the go.

Changes to the code will define where and when “autonomous driving” can be used, as well as the responsibility of drivers to regain control.

They also specify who is legally responsible if a car using such technology is involved in an accident.

Register to our daily newsletter

Although there are currently no cars on sale capable of self-driving, the government says the changes will bring Britain “one step closer to a self-driving revolution”.

The government says the changes will help pave the way for the safe adoption of the first autonomous vehicles

The rules will also specify when a driver must regain control of the car, such as when approaching exit ramps, and confirm that drivers will not be held responsible for accidents while using the technology. Instead, insurance companies will have to process damage and injury claims.

The Department for Transport has said that self-driving cars could be on UK roads this year in the form of vehicles fitted with automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS).

It says these systems differ from current “assistive technologies” by fully taking over the task of controlling the driver’s car and allowing them to focus on non-driving activities. However, the human operator must still be able to regain control within 10 seconds when requested by the car.

Initially, the use of such systems would be limited to highway use and at speeds up to 37 mph.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “This is a major step in our safe introduction of autonomous vehicles, which will revolutionize the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable. .

The government says it is working to finalize the legal and regulatory frameworks to enable the widespread use of autonomous vehicles by 2025.

Matthew Avery, head of research strategy at Thatcham Research, said the advice on responsibilities was welcome. He commented, “Education is a key factor in safe adoption [of automated driving]and as such, we welcome the announcement’s emphasis on ensuring that drivers understand their legal obligations while driving any vehicle described as having “self-driving capability”.

“As a clear communication to the consumer, the advert’s emphasis on the driver’s legal responsibilities is important, particularly when it comes to regaining control of the system. This is a risk area and it is important that drivers are aware that they must remain engaged and be ready to resume the driving task at any time.

However, David Ward, chairman of the Global New Car Assessment Program safety body, said the announcement highlighted “strange priorities” at the DfT as it set up “serious distractions in non-existent autonomous vehicles” before legislating for existing systems such as intelligent speed assistance.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation automotive research charity, said driverless cars “promise a future where deaths and injuries on our roads are significantly reduced”, but there will likely be a “long transition period” while drivers will retain “much of the responsibility for what happens”.

He stressed the importance of communicating changes to regulations to drivers.

“Vehicle manufacturers and sellers will have a vital role to play in ensuring their customers fully appreciate the capabilities of the cars they buy and the rules that govern them,” he said.