Car technology is marching forward with unrelenting pace. Having kick-started the mobile phone and tablet revolution, Apple is long rumoured to be working on an electric vehicle. The details aren’t yet known, but expect Apple’s new product to change driving as we know it. Tesla has received nearly 400,000 pre-orders for the new Model 3. And it’s easy to see why the Tesla is proving so popular. Tesla is the super-cool and modern electric car to have – stunning in design and boasting full autopilot hardware.
So with this technology revolution, our roads need to adapt. The Department for Transport (DfT) have recently launched a consultation to seek your views on proposed changes.
The DfT have identified two new technologies which they believe will be on Britain’s roads in 2-4 years. These are:
- Motorway Assist – An ‘autopilot’ for driving on motorways and dual-carriageways.
- Remote control parking – The car self-parks without you even in the car.
In response to these new technologies the DfT have identified two main areas which need addressing:
- Highway Code – The Highway Code needs to be changed to provide guidance to drivers using new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). This includes guidelines on required safety distances for automatic cars travelling as platoons.
- Insurance – Legislation surrounding car insurance needs to be amended to allow automated cars to be insured.
The DfT are keen not to propose ground-shaking revisions yet. There is a very progressive, step-by-step approach to regulatory reform. The reason for this is that fully door-to-door driverless cars are not likely for a few years, so the current framework requiring careful and responsible driving needs to remain in place.
Presently, advances in technology are coming as additions to current vehicles. Therefore, regulatory changes only need to be incremental too. However, should a company such as Apple introduce a fully automated car, designed from the ground up to be automatic, regulatory change would need to take a different approach. Watch this space.
To read more about these changes, and to respond to the consultation, visit the GOV.UK website.
New Driving Test
The DfT has another consultation on proposed changes to the initial driving test. The idea behind the changes is to modernise the test, making the experience more closely resemble real life driving situations. The key proposed changes are:
- ‘Independent driving’ element of test will be increased from 10 to 20 minutes duration.
- Candidates will need to use a sat-nav during the 'independent driving’.
- Manoeuvres revamp – three point turns and ‘reversing around a corner’ will be replaced by realistic scenarios, such as using parking bays.
- To ask the candidate a technical question whilst driving to assess their level of capacity.
You have until August 25th to respond to the DfT consultation, which can be found here.