Are we really ready for self-driving cars?

Are We Really Ready for Self-Driving Cars?

Automated Lane-Keeping Systems (ALKS) would be the very first type of ‘self-driving’, hands-free method of driving to be legalised in the UK, according to the Department for Transport.

This jaw-dropping technology can control the speed of a car up to 37mph (60km/h), as well as the position of the car in a single lane.

The government previously said that laws that do not require drivers to have their hands on the wheel or be monitoring the road at all times would come into effect by this Spring.

While this has not happened yet, it could be a feature on UK roads by the end of the year.

The Phrase ‘Self-driving’

Last year, the government confirmed that vehicles with ALKS technology can legally be defined as ‘self-driving’, given that there is no evidence to challenge the vehicle’s ability to do so.

Whilst this means that drivers can take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road, they will still be required to stay alert. Drivers must be able to take control of the wheel within 10 seconds if the system asks them.

However, many people, including safety experts, are very concerned about the use of the phrase ‘self-driving’.

They worry that it gives drivers the wrong impression of the technology’s abilities, and may lead to driver complacency, resulting in accidents.

In fact, a driver from Nottingham was banned from driving in 2018 after he got into the passenger seat of his Tesla and left it to drive on the motorway without his assistance at all.

ALKS technology does not make the car completely automated and self-responsible. It is an assisted driving system that very much still needs the support of the driver in certain situations.

Reducing Road Traffic Accidents

This however, does not mean that ALKS and similar self-driving technology is bad news at all – far from it! It just needs to be implemented safely, with laws ensuring this is the case.

Guess what the main cause of road accidents in the UK is… human error.

It had been said that this self-driving technology could prevent 47,000 serious car accidents and save 3,900 lives within the next 10 years.

The government is keen for Britain to be a world leader in the self-driving technology industry and has now pledged over £19million for research into the field, all while creating jobs and working to make our roads as safe as possible.

Self-Driving Cars will Birth a New Legal Minefield

Before we know it, driverless cars will be normal. We will be seeing them every day.

With such a major change in how cars work, it is inevitable that this will also bring a totally new legal minefield.

James Hardy, of the Personal Injury Department at Wosskow Brown, said: “Insurance companies often drag their heels, even when there is an obvious party to blame, so when driverless cars are introduced, the situation will be significantly more difficult to navigate.”

The good news is, James explains, “We are already working hard in preparation for what will undoubtedly become one of the trickier legal issues of modern times.

“As we always do with all the personal injury claims we process, we shall continue to use our long-established expertise to ensure that our clients get the biggest reward possible.”

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