Smart Transport

DfT calls for industry feedback on hands-free driving

Interior of connected vehicle

The Department for Transport (DfT) is looking for industry feedback to help determine whether car manufacturers should be held liable for the safety of new automated lane keeping systems (ALKS).

The DfT has launched a call for evidence to help shape how automated lane keeping systems (ALKS) will be used on UK roads in the future.

The call for feedback will ask whether vehicles using this technology should be legally defined as an automated vehicle, which would mean the technology provider would be responsible for the safety of the vehicle when the system is engaged, rather than the driver.

This technology is designed to enable drivers – for the first time ever – to delegate the task of driving to the vehicle.

When activated, the system keeps the vehicle within its lane, controlling its movements for extended periods of time without the driver needing to do anything.

The driver must be ready and able to resume driving control when prompted by the vehicle.

The DfT is also seeking views on Government proposals to allow the safe use of ALKS on British roads at speeds of up to 70mph. 

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “Automated technology could make driving safer, smoother and easier for motorists and the UK should be the first country to see these benefits, attracting manufacturers to develop and test new technologies.

“The UK’s work in this area is world leading and the results from this call for evidence could be a significant step forward for this exciting technology.”

Following the approval of ALKS Regulation in June 2020 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) - of which the UK is a member – the technology is likely to be available in cars entering the UK market from spring 2021.

The Government is acting now to ensure that regulation is ready where necessary for its introduction.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Over the last 50 years leading edge in-car technology from seat belts to airbags and ABS has helped to save thousands of lives.

“The Government is right to be consulting on the latest collision-avoidance system which has the potential to make our roads even safer in the future."

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, said ALKS will be life-changing, 'making our journeys safer and smoother than ever before and helping prevent some 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade'.

He said: "This advanced technology is ready for roll out in new models from as early as 2021, so the DfT's announcement is a welcome step in preparing the UK for its use, so we can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this road safety revolution."

The DfT is planning to detail any changes to legislation and the Highway Code that are proposed by the end of this year, which will include a summar of responses to the call for evidence.

Industry stakeholders can respond to the call for evidence either online or they can email a response to [email protected].

Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Keynote speakers included: 

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry

Keith Williams, co-author of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, who spoke on rail’s role in integrated transport, decarbonisation and innovation.

Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, who discussed the future of transport and its pivotal role in a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic.


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