UK urged to back driverless vehicle legislation

UK urged to back driverless vehicle legislation

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) is urging its government to push through legislation for driverless vehicles.

The SMMT is urging swift passage of the Automated Vehicles (AV) Bill in the UK parliament to allow driverless vehicles to operate commercially on the roads.

Even if the current timetable is met, following the Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons in early March, self-driving vehicles will not be approved on British roads until at least 2026. But should the legislation be delayed until after the general election, that date is likely to be nearer to 2030, putting the UK at a significant disadvantage.

The technology could save an additional 3,200 lives and prevent 53,000 serious accidents, from now until 2040, with a £38 billion economic boost.

The UK government has invested over £600 million in self-driving vehicle trials since 2015 but risks squandering that advantages says the SMMT. It points to rival markets in the EU and US that already have regulatory frameworks in place and have captured the lead, deploying the technology commercially on public roads now.

“Backing the AV Bill now is fundamental if Britain is to not only develop but deploy self-driving passenger cars and services. We have the foundations, but other major markets are stealing a march, with regulation already in place allowing them to benefit from UK-developed self-driving tech that cannot be rolled out here. Any further delay risks leaving Britain in the slow lane, jeopardising our competitiveness and holding back the significant safety and economic rewards self-driving technology can deliver,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.

Market research commissioned by the SMMT found that nearly a third of adults (29%) would use an automated bus, shuttle or taxi service if available today, with one in four (26%) likely to try self-driving features in a personal car.

Reduced stress of driving, safer journeys and potentially lower insurance costs were listed as the top three benefits of a self-driving car. For self-driving passenger services such as a bus, shuttle or taxi, consumers were most motivated by the prospect of lower fares, better availability in rural areas and safer journeys.

Existing technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist, the most popular Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) among survey respondents, are already making roads safer. Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) is now available on 80% of new cars and has led to a 38% reduction in real world rear-end crashes. 

Nissan is planning to roll out commercial driverless car services in Japan following trials in London, and there are commercial driverless car operations in three cities in the US and four in China.


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