GEM Motoring Assist has come out in support of the Government’s announcement of its intention to trial the use of driverless cars on roads from January 2015.
While accepting that “there are many questions to be answered”, David Williams MBE, GEM chief executive, believes the technology paves the way for “safer journeys and safer roads” and a “sizeable and permanent reduction” in the number of KSIs.
David Williams said: “We are excited by this significant development, primarily because of the enormous potential for safer journeys and safer roads.
“Technology properly understood and implemented should lead to a sizeable and permanent reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.
“We have long maintained that advances in vehicle safety technology have combined with improved road engineering measures to give vehicle occupants and other road users a greater chance of surviving collisions that would have killed them or wounded them badly a generation ago.
“However, humans really haven’t changed, and more than 90% of collisions occur because someone made a mistake or took a risk.
“If the driverless car can eliminate the human input, then we should be able to look forward to far fewer collisions. In turn, this will bring health benefits, reduce pressure on hospital emergency units and offer longer term economic gains as delays on our road network will be reduced.”
However, David Williams goes on to point out that there are many questions to be answered, and fundamental changes required to the legislative and regulatory framework and road infrastructure.
He said: “We face a big challenge as we try to work out what current laws can be adapted for driverless cars. For example, what training will an individual need to use a vehicle without steering wheel or pedals?
“If a car is truly ‘driverless’, then are all the occupants allowed to drink alcohol before and during a journey, without risk of committing any offence? What responsibility sits with the one occupant who presses the single stop/go button control?
“Because driverless cars will rely heavily on their connectivity, how sure are we that they can be free from cyber attack? Would someone with the right technical skills be able to send a text message to disable all driverless cars? Or worse, take remote control of a vehicle and deliberately cause it to crash?
“What powers and techniques will be available to the police if they suspect there are offenders or criminals on board a driverless car? How will they stop it?
“GEM welcomes innovation and progress in this exciting development, but we seek clarification on these issues to ensure driverless cars deliver the safety benefits they are capable of.”