Eco has welcomed the Government’s announcement today that Electric Vehicles drivers with cars like Tesla’s that support self-driving by the car, will be officially allowed to use these functions on UK motorways soon.
Many of today’s modern vehicles offer “Automated Lane Keeping Systems” (ALKS) that automatically position the car between motorway lanes and use multiple cameras to automatically adjust to other traffic by accelerating or braking to keep a safe distance from the car in front.
Electric Car Organisation (eco) strongly believe that this is the future and will speed up motorways with heavy traffic and dramatically reduce human error accidents through a lack of attention in boring traffic jams.
Eco Chairman Steve Endacott commented “My Tesla X10 is a much better driver than I am in heavy motorway traffic, as it has 8 surround cameras providing a 360-degree view that are constantly monitored. These keep me between the white lines of my lane, but more importantly automatically keep me moving every time the car in front moves. This helps dramatically cut the slowness of drivers reacting to cars in front moving and reduces “SWOT” (Shear Weight Of Traffic) delays caused by drivers not paying attention as they are bored and distracted whilst waiting in traffic”.
Eco points out however that “Driverless” petrol cars are still heavily polluting in traffic jams.
Endacott commented “Petrol cars stuck in jams quickly raise pollution levels in their surrounding areas to dangerous levels. Many drivers don’t realise that sitting in their cars gives them relatively little protection from this pollution and just assume it’s a threat to pedestrians and cyclists. The sooner traffic jams are handled by zero polluting, self-driving EV’s the sooner accident levels and serious respiratory illnesses will drop”.
Eco also challenges why the Government has chosen to introduce an arbitrary 37-mile speed limit for driverless cars to operate below.
Endacott said “Given the government has recognised that self-driving cars are safe at low speeds, could they please publish their research showing why this safety benefit ends at 37 miles per hour? Obviously, I would not recommend that people are allowed to read their papers at 70 miles per hour, but self-drive cars are much better than humans at obeying speed limits. It is also much more relaxing to let the car do the bulk of the work on motorways, whilst the driver keeps both hands on the wheel and follows distracting navigation instruction from the SAT NAV”.
Eco is also calling for precise clarity on what driver activity is allowed to do whilst a car is in self-drive mode.
Endacott commented “It’s unlikely that drivers will actually watch TV in traffic jams as they will often have to switch their attention back to the motorway as speeds pick up. Short attention span jobs such as reading the paper, checking emails, or having a chat on a hands-free phone are more likely. You can easily see the car will become an extended office, in traffic-filled commutes. Is this allowed?
Endacott also raises the safety of texting as something that needs specific clarification. “For years drivers have been taught not to text whilst driving as this is especially dangerous. However, is this allowed in self-drive mode? It's potentially a dangerous habit breaker if it is, although at low speeds it would be 100% safe.
Eco thinks that the Government needs to think through and provide clarity on a number of key issues or it could derail the “Self-drive” movement which must be the future of UK driving and thinks a vague statement like “Drivers must be ready to take back control, is far too vague.”