A study by UK road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that 60 per cent of motorists consider the growing ability of autonomous vehicles to drive by themselves as a serious threat to road safety.
“Our research clearly shows that many motorists remain to be convinced about the safety of self-driving vehicles,” said Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research. “While we wait for completely autonomous cars to take over from human drivers, driver training will be paramount in ensuring that increasingly automated vehicles are an asset rather than a drawback.
“Autonomous and automated vehicle technology is becoming an integral part of everyday motoring and while it does have the capacity to improve road safety, its capabilities must be fully understood to ensure we don’t over-rely on them. Over-reliance on these systems and a lack of training on how to use them could have a negative effect, with potentially worrying results for motorists and pedestrians alike.”
With a number of autonomous vehicles promised by several manufacturers and an ever-increasing number of vehicle systems undertaking tasks that drivers used to perform, IAM RoadSmart is calling for an “understanding of automated features” component to be included in the relevant UK driving test.
IAM RoadSmart believes consumers are also concerned about the high cost of research and development – making autonomous vehicles too expensive for some people – as well as possible malfunctions, data security issues and moral dilemmas as to what information the vehicle should be programmed to protect.
According to IAM RoadSmart, the UK government estimates that 40 per cent of the country’s new car sales could have self-driving capabilities in less than 15 years. The organisation said advocates pushing for autonomous vehicle technology are highlighting the financial benefits to the UK economy – possibly worth £42 billion by 2035, together with the creation of nearly 40,000 British jobs.