New laws will mean that from June drivers will be able to
use remote control parking on British roads, although they must continue to
maintain overall control of their vehicle.
Changes to the Highway Code and relevant regulations were
on earlier this year and received overwhelming support from a range of
groups including manufacturers, insurance groups and haulage companies, said
the Department for Transport (DfT).
Developments like remote control parking and motorway
assist had the potential to transform car travel for those with mobility
challenges, unlocking tight parking spaces and using computers to help driver
accuracy on the road, said the DfT.
Not only that, but technology had the potential to make
driving more energy efficient meaning cheaper, cleaner journeys, with improved
air quality for both drivers and pedestrians.
The remote-control function may be used in a variety of
ways, from a key fob issued by the manufacturer, to an app on a device such as
a mobile phone.
The legislative changes will see Highway Code rules updated
so clarity is given on both the use of remote control parking, and driver
assistance systems that can control aspects of driving such as changing lanes
on the motorway.
Additionally the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use)
Regulation 110 will be updated.
Currently the regulation stipulates that drivers may not
hold a mobile device while in their vehicle. The proposed update will to allow
drivers to use their remote control parking device. They will need to be within
six metres of their vehicle.
The updates would provide clarity for motorists about how
the technologies could be used, and allow the increased use of features like
cruise control, providing significant advantages for drivers, said the DfT.
With such gadgets available on some vehicle models, the
updates saw the law moulding to the modern driving world, making sure drivers
were ready to use their new technology safely and ensuring the law was flexible
for future breakthroughs, said the DfT.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman, said: “Advanced driver
assistance systems are already starting to revolutionise driving. It’s
encouraging to see the strong support for these innovations from a range of
stakeholders. We will continue to review our driving laws, in order to ensure
drivers can enjoy the potential of these new tools safely.”
The changes are part of a package of work to ensure UK
road laws are fit to support automated driving technology as they develop and
provide clarity on new use cases.
The government also recently tasked the Law Commission
with a detailed
review of driving laws, along with planned updates to the code of practice
to ensure that as technology developed the UK remained one of the best places
in the world to develop, test and drive self-driving vehicles. The government
hopes to see fully self-driving cars on the UK roads by 2021.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor
Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles will
transform our lives, with the potential to reduce up to 25,000 serious
accidents and create more than 300,000 jobs over the next decade.
“[The] announcement is just one step towards increasing
automation but it is an important one enabling increased convenience especially
for those with restricted mobility. It is another welcome commitment from
government to keep the UK firmly at the forefront of connected and autonomous
vehicle development and rollout.”