When will self-driving cars arrive on our roads?

The PA news agency answers key questions about the technology.

Neil Lancefield
Wednesday 20 April 2022 08:59
The Highway Code is being updated ahead of the first self-driving cars being allowed on Britain’s roads (Philip Toscano/PA)
The Highway Code is being updated ahead of the first self-driving cars being allowed on Britain’s roads (Philip Toscano/PA)

The Highway Code is being updated ahead of the first self-driving cars being allowed on Britain’s roads.

Here the PA news agency answers eight key questions about the technology:

– Can I already use a self-driving car in Britain?

Not yet. Existing technology which assists motorists – such as cruise control – requires motorists to keep their hands on the wheel.

– When will they be permitted?

The first cars with self-driving technology could be permitted for use by the end of 2022.

– What features will they have?

Vehicles fitted with an automated lane keeping system (Alks) may be the first example of self-driving on Britain’s roads.

Alks technology is designed for use on congested motorways, enabling a vehicle to drive itself in a single lane at up to 37mph.

Cars with self-driving technology could be allowed on Britain’s roads by the end of the year (Niall Carson/PA)

– How will it work?

The system varies between manufacturers, but generally involves the use of cameras and sensors to keep a vehicle moving in its lane without hitting other road users.

– Will self-driving cars be safe?

The Government claims they can improve road safety by reducing human error, which is blamed for around 88% of all traffic accidents.

– What is happening with the Highway Code?

It will be updated to clarify that motorists will not be held responsible if a crash happens while they are travelling in a self-driving car.

– Will I be able to watch television programmes and films in a self-driving car?

Yes. Rules will be changed to allow drivers to view content not related to driving on built-in display screens.

– Why are the changes being planned now?

The Department for Transport said it wants to ensure the Highway Code is ready for when the first wave of self-driving car technology arrives.

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