Changes to the The Highway Code are being introduced to pave the way for the first self-driving vehicles – which could be ready for use on UK roads later this year.
Announced by the Government on 20 April, the changes explain that while travelling in self-driving mode, motorists must be ready to resume control ‘in a timely way’ if they are prompted to – such as when they approach motorway exits.
The plans also include a change to current regulation, allowing drivers to view content that is not related to driving on built-in display screens, while the self-driving vehicle is in control.
It will, however, still be illegal to use mobile phones in self-driving mode, ‘given the greater risk they pose in distracting drivers as shown in research’.
Trudy Harrison, transport minister, said: “This is a major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles, which will revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable.
“This exciting technology is developing at pace right here in Great Britain and we’re ensuring we have strong foundations in place for drivers when it takes to our roads.
“In doing so, we can help improve travel for all while boosting economic growth across the nation and securing Britain’s place as a global science superpower.”
The Government says vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and only be approved as self-driving when they have met stringent standards.
It is also continuing to develop a full legal framework for self-driving vehicles, as well as working with industry, regulators and safety organisations to ensure drivers can access information to help them use the vehicles safely.