The UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that the majority of drivers aren’t actually ready to take their hands off the steering wheel, despite the fact that autonomous vehicle technology has huge potential to improve road safety.
Research conducted by the charity in its annual Safety Culture Report, which gauges drivers’ attitudes to key road safety issues over time, discovered that 59% of drivers agree that the growing ability of vehicles to drive themselves is a serious risk to their personal safety. Opinions don’t vary much by age, but women were particularly concerned with 67% rating it as a threat.
Automated vehicle technology could drastically reduce the number of collisions on UK roads, but this will only happen if the new systems are used correctly, which will only be achieved through effective driver education and correct marketing campaigns which help motorists understand the technology’s capabilities and limitations.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, says: “Perhaps due to misinformation and an overabundance of technical jargon, the public still remains to be fully convinced new technology which in theory has the potential to reduce many collisions on Britain’s roads, saving thousands of deaths and injuries.
“In order for this trust to be gained, we recommend that proper education of automated technology is included in the UK driving test, giving motorists the opportunity to learn about how it works, which will at least go some way towards alleviating the anxieties many understandably have at present.
“Equally, drivers must also recognise that an over reliance on these systems could also have a negative impact on road safety, with potentially worrying results for motorists and pedestrians alike.”
IAM RoadSmart’s call for education is heightened by the fact that the UK has given the green light to self-driving on motorways using systems such as ALKS (Automatic Lane Keeping Assist), as well as fresh predictions that 1 in 10 of all vehicles will be at least partially autonomous by 2030.
Greig continues: “With Britain being the first to support the roll out of autonomous vehicles on public roads, as well as the growth of the industry, it is surely only a matter of time before autonomous vehicles become a very common sight on Britain’s roads. This makes our call for more education all the more important, ensuring we all remain in the right lane and make Britain’s roads as safe as they can be.”