The mooted safety benefits of driverless cars are back in the spotlight after the publication of a new study from a top UK engineering society.
According to the Autonomous and Driverless Cars report, issued today (February 11th) by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), some 95 per cent of all traffic accidents could be prevented by the adoption of a fully autonomous road transport system.
Moreover, the economic benefits of the transition would be huge, creating an extra £51 billion per annum for the UK alone, the report claims.
Philippa Oldham, head of transport at IMechE and lead author of the report, said that it “makes sense” for government, industry and academia to “redouble efforts to look at how we phase out human involvement in driving vehicles”.
She also made an urgent call for a resolution to legislative, technological and insurance-related barriers to the rollout of autonomous and driverless cars.
“There needs to be much more action from government to help integrate driverless vehicles into the current UK transport network,” Ms Oldham continued. “This will include updates and standardisation to road signage and road markings to enable these driverless vehicles to operate in the safest way possible.”
She added that manufacturers and dealers will play an important role in the shift to a more autonomous car parc, and that “much more work needs to be done to clarify regulation and insurance issues, such as where liability lies in case of an accident”.
The IMechE study makes three key recommendations for the UK to ease the way towards this safer and more prosperous future.
Firstly, it calls on the country’s Transport Systems Catapult to conduct a public consultation and create a working group for the development and implementation of new regulatory regimes around the use of autonomous and driverless cars.
Secondly, it urges manufacturers and dealers to work together to ensure the availability of up-to-date training and information for individuals involved in the servicing these vehicles.
Finally, IMechE asks the Department of Transport to address the safety issues likely to arise from mixed road use, as well as assess the need for changes to signage and markings.