Road Safety News

Modern transport bill included in Queen’s Speech

Wednesday 18th May 2016


As widely anticipated, the Queen's Speech included a modern transport bill which will encourage investment in driverless and electric cars, and ensure insurance is available to users of driverless vehicles.

According to Auto Express, the bill will also set out how driverless cars will be governed to enable people to be able to buy and use them by 2020.

The UK Government is expecting the development of driverless cars to play a vital role in the country's economic future, with the RAC suggesting that forecasts show that the industry could be worth nearly a trillion pounds worldwide by the middle of the 2020s.

For that reason, the Government has repeatedly expressed its desire to take a world lead in the area. In March, it confirmed that the UK would hold trials for driverless lorries, while in February it announced a further £20m would be invested in developing the technology.

The UK’s first public autonomous vehicle trials are set to get underway later this year and members of the public are being invited to sign up to take part.  

However, earlier this year a number of Britain’s leading car insurers joined forces in response to concerns within the industry that the introduction of driverless cars could see premiums and profits slashed.

The Automated Driving Insurance Group (ADIG), which includes the likes of Aviva, Direct Line and Admiral, is also seeking to establish who will be responsible in the event of a collision - the ‘driver’ or the vehicle manufacturer.


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I am sure that in order to be in the so called driving seat of a driverless vehicle the person must be the holder of a current driving licence for that category of vehicle. It would not be acceptable to have people who have poor eyesight to be in that position.

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Hugh, I guess the TV documentary you saw was about the 150 year old London Underground system. Travel on the Docklands Light Railway and you won't find any drivers (they don't even have a seat for one).
Martin, Suffolk

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Not directly related to this story perhaps, but the recent TV documentary on London's Tube showed how even their trains which are non-steerable, guided by rails, have predetermined, predictable and usually uneventful journeys, still apparently need someone at the helm - called 'the driver'.
Hugh Jones

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Worth a look.

Judging by the consistent public reaction from across the pond there's a long way to go yet to persuade people that driverless is the way to go.
Jeremy, Devon

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How about a person who has their licence removed due to eyesight problems or elderly people no longer able to drive. Could name at least three myself in my immediate family. Pretty sure there are many more?
Nick, Lancashire

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Who will pay for this "free at the point of need" system which you propose?
Nick, Lancashire

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Has anyone met anybody who has expressed a desire to own a driverless car? I certainly haven't come across a single person who wants to have one on their drive.
David, Suffolk

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I cannot wait to see drivers of high performance top end cars simply sitting in their £100,000 cars along with the rest of us in convoys on the roads. However, in reality such car manufacturers will not actually go down the autonomous route. It will become a two tier system in the developed countries.

Also as I have said before the development of autonomous cars is only going to be for the developed countries. It certainly will not be a global approach. Can those who are pushing the autonomous approach actually see it working outside of the developed countries? A certain level of technology and infrastructure is necessary in the network to get this to work.

Some proponents of the technology have stated crash, injury and death rates will fall. Possibly not in those countries with the highest incidence of injuries and fatalities. Can anyone who is pushing autonomous vehicles actually state how they see development on a global scale?

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The Queen's Speech included a modern transport bill which will encourage investment in driverless and electric cars, and ensure insurance is available to users of driverless vehicles.

However I have found, amongst my personal old road safety material, a comment in The Pedestrian (the quarterly journal of the Pedestrians' Assiciation for Road Safety) Spring 1964 edition, the following:- Driverless Cars. A speaker for the Electrical Development Association has forcast that by the year 2000 A.D. automatic cars and lorries dialled for their destination would be running unattended on motor roads. This will run and run with arguements about who is in control.

Personally I want to wash my hands of the whole thing but I might spill water all over the car. We who drive classic vehicles will still need to be hands on.
Peter, City of Westminster

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Hi Keith
The DfT seem to recognise your point. As noted within the "Working together to build a safer road system - British road safety statement" Dec 2015. A work in progress it seems. So long as they get to a decision on liability before the vehicles arrive on our roads.
Pat, Wales

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Charles, I think there are aspects in your comment worthy of serious consideration. Alongside that however, we must ensure that "accountability", both individual and collective, remains in place.
Pat, Wales

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In the final paragraph the question is raised "who will be responsible in the event of a collision - the 'driver' or the vehicle manufacture".

If a collision occurs while in autonomous mode there is no driver of the vehicle, they are surley just an observer at that point. I was always under the impression you cannot have two drivers of a vehicle at the same time.

The technology keeps referirng to driverless vehicles. So how can you prosecute someone by defintion who is not driving the vehicle.

Or is it a case if the observer/driver fails to take control prior to an incident they will then be held responsible.

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Whilst laws are being reformulated, perhaps it's time for the government to review the efficiency of motor vehicle insurance in general. Relying on individual road users to provide their own third-party cover has a number of disadvantages, not least that it relies on the integrity of each and every road user for its effectiveness, and that non-motorised users are not required to have cover at all. An alternative to consider might be the provision of free (at point of need) personal injury (and potentially property damage) cover to all those suffering loss due to a road traffic incident. That would guarantee recompense for anyone who suffers loss (regardless of who causes it, whether they stop or not, whether they are personally insured or not) and simplify the liability issue for driverless vehicles too.
Charles, England

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