DfT must develop “comprehensive strategy” for new motoring technology

12.00 | 6 March 2015 | | 2 comments

New automotive technologies could unblock congested highways, deliver a step change in road safety and provide the basis for rapid industrial growth – but the DfT will need to develop a comprehensive strategy to maximise the benefits of new motoring technology, according to the Transport Committee.

The Transport Committee is today (6 Mar) launching a report titled ‘Motoring of the Future’ which follows a wide-ranging inquiry into technologies including telematics and autonomous vehicles.

Following the inquiry, the Transport Select Committee is calling on the DfT to:
• Clarify how the introduction of self-driving cars will affect the liabilities of drivers, manufacturers and insurers.
• Positively engage in setting international standards that will help UK manufacturers develop products suitable for export.
• Ask the information commissioner to update guidelines on the collection and use of vehicle data.
• Use data on driver behaviour held by the insurance industry and others to inform policy making and improve road safety.

Louise Ellman MP, chair of Transport Committee, said: “Motoring is being transformed by new materials, new fuels and information technology. The Government must do more to ensure that people and businesses in the UK benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"The public need to be sure that new types of vehicles are safe to travel on our roads. The Government must do more to prepare for a transition period where manual, semi-autonomous and driverless vehicles will share UK roads.

“Transport ministers must explain how different types of vehicles will be certified and tested, how drivers will be trained and how driving standards will be updated, monitored and enforced."

Commenting on the Transport Committee’s findings, Neil Greig, IAM director of policy, said: “Computerised vehicles will generate information on an epic scale. In the not so distant future a hacker could do more damage than a drunk driver. Getting system security right must be a top priority.”


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    An even greater concern to me is the one Dave raises here, what hackers might do. Given astonishing degree of expertise already displayed in hacking all sorts of supposedly secure systems (most recently involving instructing cash machines to churn out notes without any need for cards or account details) how long before evil-doers, terrorists and the like see a 70mph 3 lane stream of traffic as a tempting target?

    We already known that much of our society and indeed much of our military hardware is at risk of meltdown caused by enemy states or rogue hackers, do we really want to add transport to their list of targets?

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    The Transport Committee are right. There are a host of electronic systems being developed and used in cars such as: internet connections, sat-navs, ISA, warnings (lane departure, tiredness, speed limit, proximity of cyclists, etc), all the way up to cars driving themselves. The implications of these (both individually and in combination) need high quality tests and accurate evaluations.

    The problem is that the authorities have a track record of poor quality and inaccurate evaluations.

    I agree with the Transport Committee that this research needs to be done, but who can be trusted to perform it to the required standard?

    Dave Finney, Slough
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