Watch tv while you drive: New rules for self-driving cars unveiled

20 April 2022, 00:02 | Updated: 20 April 2022, 10:48

The rule changes are planned for the Highway Code
The rule changes are planned for the Highway Code. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Self-driving car users will be able to watch TV and films under newly proposed rules for the Highway Code.

While it will remain illegal to use phones behind the wheel, the code will explain drivers must be ready to take back control of vehicles if necessary.

And insurance companies, instead of individuals, will be liable for claims if a self-driving car crashes.

Transport minister Trudy Harrison the Highway Code update will be a "major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles", which she claimed will "revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable".

She said "This exciting technology is developing at pace right here in Great Britain and we're ensuring we have strong foundations in place for drivers when it takes to our roads.

"In doing so, we can help improve travel for all while boosting economic growth across the nation and securing Britain's place as a global science superpower."

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The new rules follow a public consultation and are an interim measure before a full regulatory framework is implemented – which is expected to be in place by 2025.

No self-driving vehicles have been approved for the roads yet but the first set could be given the green light later this year.

In April last year, the Department for Transport said hands-free driving would be allowed on congested motorways for vehicles that are capable of keeping within lanes.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said driverless cars "promise a future where death and injury on our roads are cut significantly" but there could be a "long period of transition" as drivers take on "much of the responsibility for what happens".

"Vehicle manufacturers and sellers will have a vital role to play in ensuring their customers fully appreciate the capabilities of the cars they buy and the rules that govern them," he said.

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