The automotive sector is urging parliamentarians to back the Automated Vehicles (AV) Bill.

It believes that by ensuring its swift passage into law so the UK can unlock the massive safety and economic benefits of self-driving passenger cars and public transport services.

By reducing the risk of human error, autonomous vehicles could save an additional thousands of lives and injuries.

Figures and facts

3,200 lives and prevent 53,000 serious accidents, from now until 2040, with a £38 billion economic boost for the taking – but only if the AV Bill is enacted without delay.1

March will see the Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons. However, in truth, we are unlikely to see self-driving vehicles on British roads until at least 2026. But if the legislation is delayed until after the general election, that date is likely to be nearer to 2030. This would put the UK at a significant disadvantage to international partners, especially in the development of the technology for industry and the economy, as well as reaping the safety ben.

Rival markets in the EU and US already have regulatory frameworks in place. It means they are already stealing a lead in development and deployment of the tech on public roads. The UK automotive industry  believes this makes the need for our own legislation even more urgent.

Money and momentum

Thanks to government and industry investment of more than £600 million in self-driving vehicle trials since 2015, the risk is that the UK will squander its advantages.

When it comes to consumers and the general public, the UK is generally more enthusiastic about new technology than many in Europe. Government research also reveals that public interest in self-driving technology increases as consumers learn more about it.

Popular evolution

“Backing the AV Bill now is fundamental if Britain is to not only develop but deploy self-driving passenger cars and services,” says Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “We have the foundations, but other major markets are stealing a march, with regulation already in place allowing them to benefit from UK-developed self-driving tech that cannot be rolled out here. Any further delay risks leaving Britain in the slow lane, jeopardising our competitiveness and holding back the significant safety and economic rewards self-driving technology can deliver.”

Research commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that nearly a third of adults (29%) would use an automated bus, shuttle or taxi service if available today. The YouGov survey reveals that with one in four (26%) are likely to try self-driving features in a personal car. This is even though they have yet to experience the technology to date.

Young people are even keener. Generation Z (18-27 year-olds) almost twice (34%) as likely to try a personal car with self-driving features than Baby Boomers (18%) (60-78 year-olds). 

Lives and money

Reduced stress of driving, safer journeys and potentially lower insurance costs were listed as the top three benefits of a self-driving car. For self-driving passenger services such as a bus, shuttle or taxi, consumers were most motivated by the prospect of lower fares, better availability in rural areas and safer journeys.

Existing technologies are already making our roads safer. Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) prove popular with the public. When it comes to safety, Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) technology is now available on eight-in-10 new cars, leading led to a 38% reduction in real world rear-end crashes.

Nine-in-10 road crashes are caused by driver error. Reducing fallible human driver input appears to be effective in improving road safety. The potential reduction of crash risk and casualties on Britain’s roads appears to be self-evident, both in theory and practice.