UK plans to start real-world testing of autonomous self-driving vehicles as soon as next year has caused understandable apprehension, raising concerns that they could risk motorbike riders’ safety.
Self-driving vehicles are coming to the UK
As stated by the Department for Transport, self-driving vehicles, coaches and lorries could be operational on motorways as early as 2021. If all goes well with the rollout process, we should see these vehicles become commonplace on our roads by 2025.
Recent government investments of £100 million to create jobs in the motor industry have created a great opportunity for autonomous vehicles, despite recent horror headlines where cars have hit pedestrians or stationary motorcycles. This plan could potentially generate thousands of new positions and provide a much-needed boost to this sector.
The Government is preparing to lay down the law for autonomous vehicles, setting out strict safety protocols that must be achieved before cars can navigate motorways next year. These standards are critical in ensuring the protection of all people on the road.
On August 19 of this year, the then Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “The benefits of self-driving vehicles have the potential to be huge. Not only can they improve people’s access to education and other vital services, but the industry itself can create tens of thousands of jobs throughout the country.
“Most importantly, they’re expected to make our roads safer by reducing the dangers of driver error in road collisions”
Edmund King present of the AA has also stated: “It is quite a big leap from assisted driving, where the driver is still in control, to self-driving, where the car takes control.
“It is important that the Government does study how these vehicles interact with other road users on different roads and changing conditions.
“However the ultimate prize, in terms of saving thousands of lives and improving the mobility of the elderly and the less mobile, is worth pursuing.”
Tension grows as biker groups push for biker safety
Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is keeping a close eye on the Government’s safety targets for autonomous vehicles, with the bikers’ rights groups expressing their scepticism.
Whilst the Government announced that its goals were to “achieve an equivalent level of safety to that of a competent and careful human driver”. However, MAG believes this is an arbitrary measure and calls for specific targets to be implemented.
At this time, a start date for the road trials has not been set and so the exact impact of driverless cars on the roads remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it is critical that safety protocols and standards are adhered to in order to protect all road users. However, If these safety standards are successfully implemented, it could prove a great opportunity for the motor industry.
The Government has only just recently concluded their public consultation on the issues created by self-driving vehicles whilst driving. However, the Motorcyclists Action Group (MAG) is aiming to make sure motorcyclists are included in all ongoing conversations to ensure their safety.
Colin Brown, MAG Director of Campaigns, said: “Who gets to decide what is a safe and competent human driver? We basically said that is a daft way of looking at it. If it is anywhere close to the average standard, then that isn’t good enough as far as we are concerned.”
“Our position is they have to come up with a data-based way of doing it. It is not beyond the wit of man to do large amounts of data gathering and if we can see statistically these things are hitting a certain safety level, then surely that is a way to do it.”