Self-driving cars are due to take to the roads later this year in a series of trials, but motorists using them will still face the full weight of the law if they are caught using their mobile phones or over the drink drive limit. This stand forms part of proposals expected to be announced by the government next month, reports the Times.
Motorists will not need to have their hands on the steering wheel whilst driving but they will still be legally responsible for the vehicle speeding or driving without due care and attention. Seatbelts must also be worn when the car is in motion.
Though the vehicles may be capable of driving themselves, there must be a human ready to take over the controls in case anything were to happen, states the transport department. This means that even though motorists are not themselves steering the car they have to pay attention to what is happening around them, keep track of speed limits and watch out for unexpected hazards to make sure that their car does not break the law.
The debate needs to be had whether driverless cars can drive to different standards. It may be that the requirements of the Highway Code can be relaxed.
Graham Parkhurst, head of an academic research project on transport in Bristol told the Times: “The debate needs to be had whether driverless cars can drive to different standards.
“It may be that the requirements of the Highway Code can be relaxed.”
For now autonomous cars will only venture out onto UK roads as part of several trials. Before they become available to the public, it is likely that motoring laws and regulations will be amended once again to accommodate the different format of driving that driverless cars allow.