Laws unsuited to autonomous cars

More than half of drivers think road laws need to change once autonomous cars are widespread.

A report by Venson Automotive Solutions found that 55% of motorists think there should be a review of road traffic laws, with only 10% believing they are appropriate now.

The survey, conducted in support of Brake Road Safety Week 2016 (21-27 November) also revealed that only 20% of people understand the true safety benefits of autonomous vehicles. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) serious road accidents could fall by more than 25,000, saving 2,500 lives every year as a result of driverless technology in 2030. However, 53% of respondents thought the SMMT figure would be more like 10,000, saving just 1,000 lives.

When asked who should be liable, in the event of an accident by a driverless car, 22% said the remote vehicle operator, with only 12% saying the driver. However, 44% said it should be a combination of the driver, remote vehicle operator, vehicle manufacturer and the software or hardware developer, highlighting their recognition of the complexities of automated vehicles and liability.

Simon Staton, director of client management at Venson Automotive Solutions, said, ‘It’s clear that many people aren’t aware of the positive impact autonomous vehicles are expected to have on road safety in the UK, despite the fact that 94% of road accidents are caused by human error.

‘Highways England believes that connected and autonomous vehicles could be the breakthrough innovation that’s needed to achieve the 2040 safety ambition of reducing accidents down to, as close as possible, zero.  Only 30% of our respondents believed this target achievable, with 38% predicting injuries and fatalities will halve.’