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New Driving Test and Special Licence for Self-Driving Car Owners

Reports have emerged that owners of self-driving cars should be forced to take a new driving test and have a special licence. A new ‘driving’ test for a ‘self-driving’ car, you’re probably thinking why? Here’s what we know…

Apparently, a study has concluded that self-driving car owners should take a new driving test and have a special licence to ‘operate’ their vehicle. The study, which recommends strict new laws to ensure motorists pay attention while at the wheel of a driverless car, involved a series of tests carried at the University of West England (UWE) in Bristol.

The study follows a tragic accident that occurred in the US, which led to the first pedestrian in the world being killed by a driverless car, after being struck by an automated Uber vehicle in Arizona in March.

Motorist or Manufacturer Responsible for Accidents?

The Venturer study, completed at UWE, questions whether responsibility for an accident ultimately lies with a motorist or a manufacturer, if a crash were to happen during a vehicle’s ‘handover’ period – that time it takes for a driver of an automated vehicle to regain control.

The report by Venturer referenced research carried out at UWE in 2016, which highlighted that it took just two seconds for a driver to take back control of an autonomous vehicle when travelling at 50mph. Cars can travel up to 45 metres during that two second gap.

Technical director at insurance firm AXA UK, David Williams, said: “AXA has supported the concept of the driverless car right from the start. It’s exciting that projects like Venturer are at the forefront of change that could have a profound, positive effect on society.”

However, Williams said that it was important for people to recognise the limitations of a vehicle and, more importantly, what the law allows us to do and what we can’t do when travelling in them.

Insurance Issues

From an insurance point of view, driverless cars represent somewhat of a grey area. In the event of accident for instance, how can responsibility be apportioned fairly between human and vehicle?

New Driving Test

Nottingham University’s, Sarah Sharples, said: “People planning on using a self-driving car should have an appropriate level of competence through a driving test. There is a need to consider whether any such driving test includes an understanding of how an autonomous vehicle will behave.”

It’s likely then, that a new driving theory test could be on the way to accommodate driverless cars. Watch this space!

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