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Proposed changes to the Highway Code will allow motorists with self-driving cars to watch TV and films while on the road.
Undoubtedly one of the worst things about going from being an oblivious child in the back of the car to the person actually in control of the vehicle is the lack of entertainment you get on long journeys, and while self-driving cars will not allow those behind the wheel to switch off entirely, they might offer the chance to return to the more exciting pastimes.
The Department for Transport describes self-driving vehicles as those that are 'capable of safely driving themselves when the self-driving function is correctly turned on and the driver follows the manufacturer’s instructions'. These differ from cars fitted with assisted driving features, like cruise control and lane-keeping assistance.
It explains that 'while the vehicle is driving itself, you do not need to monitor it', and adds: "While a self-driving vehicle is driving itself in a valid situation, you are not responsible for how it drives. You may turn your attention away from the road and you may also view content through the vehicle’s built-in infotainment apparatus, if available."
The Highway Code update will stress that motorists must be ready to take back control of the car if needed, but as long as you're staying wary of your surroundings there's no denying that a bit of Finding Nemo would make a lengthy journey more enjoyable.
It's important we make the necessary changes to #TheHighwayCode to ensure self-driving technology can be safely used on our roads. 🚘— Department for Transport (@transportgovuk) April 20, 2022
This technology is developing at pace and we’re making sure the foundations are in place for drivers when it arrives 👉 https://t.co/Q8onh7lw6f
Though built-in systems can be used, the department makes clear that drivers must still follow all relevant laws in self-driving vehicles, including being fit to drive and having a road legal and roadworthy car. Drivers must also refrain from doing anything illegal such as using a hand-held device such as a mobile or tablet.
The government assures self-driving vehicles will 'give you enough warning' if it needs to hand control back to the driver, but says drivers will not be held responsible should they crash. In the event of an accident, insurance companies will be liable for claims.
Transport minister Trudy Harrison described the update to the Highway Code as a 'major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles'.
Harrison claimed the vehicles will make journeys greener, safer and more reliable, and said the government is 'ensuring we have strong foundations in place for drivers when it takes to our roads'.
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