Honda's new self-steering car is at once fun and reassuring, writes Sean O'Grady

I think I may have found just the car for Donna Maddock. She was the woman fined last week for driving her car with a compact mirror in one hand and an eyeliner in the other: Donna needs a car that steers itself.

I hasten to add that this isn't how Honda wishes to present its new Accord with Lane Keeping Assist System, or LKAS for short, but it's a lot snappier and easier to understand. The car can "read" clear white lines on the road and tries to stop you floating into the wrong lane through tiredness or inattention by automatically correcting the steering accordingly. Can it be legal?

The authorities, I had thought, insisted on having a proper, unmolested mechanical link between driver and the direction the car was travelling. But this minor electronic intervention is permissible.

It is amazing. Once you hit 40mph you can activate the LKAS and see how it works. We went for a quick run up the M11 in horrible driving rain and with stretches of road where the white markings had been quite badly worn away.

The system coped suprisingly well with these conditions. And although it couldn't function for stretches of the trip, the fact that it did so at all was, I thought, remarkable.

You can try two "tricks" with this. First, if you take your hands off the wheel it really will keep you in your lane. The length of time you can do this varies according to your speed and whether the road bends. The sharper the bend the less effective the "sight" is, but it works on gentle turns.

It is quite unnerving to speed past lorries spraying water at you, but the Honda kept me out of harm's way. If you put the wipers on their faster settings, the system will cleverly decide it's not prudent to operate at all. Basically, it will "steer" you for about 20 seconds before beeping and telling you it hasn't had any steering inputs from you lately.

The second trick is to see how it very gently offers resistance to your steering if you try to change lanes without indicating. What a superb idea. At a stroke it could transform Britain's increasingly poor motorway lane discipline.

If only. It won't, obviously, and Honda's little aid to safety might even encounter user resistance from drivers who think telling the rest of us where they're going is a breach of human rights. You know who you are.

The truly impressive part comes when the LKAS interacts with the adaptive cruise control. When you set the speed, the Honda will slow down if the car in front does so, or a vehicle cuts in, and then speed up to the set velocity when it's safe to do so. Click the LKAS button and your Accord will steer as well as brake and accelerate all on its own while you put your make-up on.

Only joking. It's all legal, though. Honest.

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