Driverless Tech Education Needed to Convince UK Motorists

Drivers in the UK are still convinced driverless cars will cause more accidents with female drivers the most concerned.

That’s the findings of a study by road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, that claims the majority of drivers aren’t ready to take their hands off the steering wheel, despite the expectations that autonomous vehicle technology huge potential to improve road safety. Its study for the charity’s annual Safety Culture Report gauges drivers’ attitudes to key road safety issues over time.

Results suggest 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.

Most industry experts believe automated vehicle technology could drastically reduce the number of collisions but this will only happen if the new systems are used correctly. In turn this will only be achieved, says the charity, through effective driver education and correct marketing campaigns which help motorists understand the technology’s capabilities and limitations.

The charity’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. Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Perhaps, owing 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 recognize 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.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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