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Moves towards driverless cars must not produce lazy drivers reliant on gadgets

Moves towards driverless cars must not produce lazy drivers reliant on gadgets

Cars with growing levels of autonomy could make motorists lazy and over reliant on gadgets - with far reaching implications for the potential reduction of people killed and seriously injured on the roads, according to IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity.  

It was responding to a report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee called ‘Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future?’, which, among its key recommendations, included a call for the government to commission and encourage research into studying driver behaviour (Newsfeed: week commencing 13 March).

The report challenged the idea that drivers would take back control of an autonomous vehicle in an emergency.  

It said: “Autonomous cars could have negative implications for drivers’ competence, making drivers complacent and overly reliant on technology. This is of particular concern in emergency situations, where a driver may react slowly to taking back control of a vehicle. It may be that the risks associated with this are too great to tolerate. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to lower the number of road fatalities. But the eradication, or near eradication, of human error will only be realised with full automation.”

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “The implications for future driver competence and training as we become more reliant on technology are still far from clear.  

“IAM RoadSmart is already responding to this call by providing research grants and organising a conference in October on how we safely manage the transition to autonomous cars.”  

“The Government should give priority to commissioning and encouraging research studying behavioural questions and ensure it is an integral part of any trials it funds.”