Drivers Of Driverless Cars Could Be Punished For Getting Distracted Under Proposed Laws

Tue 17th Apr 2018

The future of driverless cars is just around the corner if we are to believe the news from the major manufacturers and experts, but the lawmakers are playing catch-up, and have some big decisions to make.

Bizarrely, new laws are being proposed which could mean that those behind the ‘wheel’ of the autonomous car would be prohibited from being distracted when the car is in control. This would mean that watching TV, reading books, or even answering your phone, would all be outlawed according to a latest study.

Autonomous vehicle consortium, Venturer, believes that drivers need a buffer zone of around two seconds in order to take back full control of the vehicle in case of an emergency. At speeds of 50mph, a vehicle could hypothetically travel 45 metres with neither the driver nor the car in full control.

Professor Sarah Sharples, Associate Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange and Professor of Human Factors at the University of Nottingham, who provided advice for the study, said: “It is therefore important to understand the implications of increased autonomy on the capability of humans to maintain vigilance and attention in order to be able to respond to an emergency situation.

"It may also be necessary for the rollout of highly autonomous vehicles to be accompanied with the advice – or even law – that in some or all circumstances the driver must maintain attention to the driver situation and that other activities should be minimised or avoided.”

In further measures, drivers may be forced to take a new driving test if they wish to drive an autonomous vehicle, whilst the insurance industry is also keen to address concerns and has said that it will pursue recovery compensation from the vehicle manufacturer in the event of an accident.