On Friday 6 March, following an inquiry into future transport technologies, the House of Commons Select Transport Committee published a report Motoring of the future that recommended that the Department for Transport (DfT) develops a strategy to maximise the benefits of new motoring technology, such as telematics and driverless cars, for people and businesses in the UK.
The Committee Chair Louise Ellman MP also said the Government must do more to prepare for a transition period where driverless cars are mixed with other traffic, adding that “Transport Ministers must explain how different types of vehicles will be certified and tested, how drivers will be trained and how driving standards will be updated, monitored and enforced."
The report recommends that the DfT should develop “a comprehensive, accessible vision to shape motoring of the future in partnership with other Government Departments and agencies”, conveying “a coherent set of objectives, describe a co-ordinated set of actions necessary to deliver those objectives and make links to the delivery of wider policy objectives”.
The committee recommended a strategy that includes six main objectives:
reduced or eliminated fatalities and serious injuries on roads;
reduced emissions from road transport;
increased road capacity through the use of technology rather than road building;
protection for citizens against the risk of cyber-attack;
enhanced social inclusion through more accessible road transport; and
support for economic growth.
Topics covered by the report included Safety, Autonomous and connected vehicles, Big data, Data governance, Role of OLEV, Regulatory framework and Research and trials, Driver training eCall and other barriers to adoption.
Autonomous and connected vehicles in mixed traffic
With regard to autonomous and connected vehicles, the report recommends that the DfT should prepare for a transition period when manual, semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles are all running together on UK roads. For this transition only some of the benefits promised by autonomous vehicles and the application of modern communications technology to motoring will be realised, accordion to the committee.
The report also stated that the DfT should clarify how liabilities will be apportioned in such circumstances.
Accelerating required technologies
The committee recommended that DfT identifies technologies that should be incentivised for increased rate of adoption. Such an approach would build on current policy in relation to vehicle emissions, where low-emission vehicles are subject to lower rates of vehicle excise duty.
In the past, the report claimed, the gradual tightening of certification and testing requirements has reduced engine emissions, and a similar approach could be used now to accelerate take-up.
Potential levers to nudge behaviour include type certification, road worthiness standards, mandating the fitting of particular technologies to new and existing vehicles by a specified date, scrappage schemes and fiscal incentives.