It’s feared that other road users may drive more dangerously when near driverless cars
The first driverless cars to be operated by the British public will be left unmarked to stop aggressive road users from ‘bullying’ them when they are nearby.
The first 100 self-driving vehicles, which are being created by Volvo and are set to come onto the market in 2018, will look identical to their standard counterparts but will allow users to switch to ‘autopilot’ while on certain routes in and around London.
The decision to leave them unmarked follows a survey from the London School of Economics (LSE), which found that only 29 per cent of its 12,000 respondents were comfortable with the thought of driving alongside autonomous vehicles, with many saying that they would be able to take advantage of the fact that the vehicles will follow the highway code meticulously.
One participant noted how the self-driving cars are “going to stop and you’re just going to nip round”, while another said that they would be “overtaking all the time because [the cars will] be sticking to the rules.”
The national cycling charity, Cycling UK, has raised fears that pedestrians and cyclists may also act more erratically around driverless cars as they think that they will always stop. And Mercedes, which is also introducing autonomous vehicles, appeared to confirm the risk to cyclists and pedestrians when they recently stated that its cars will always prioritise the safety of its occupants over other road users.
Nicky Jackson, serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Public opinion surrounding driverless cars is mixed, but there’s no denying that they will soon become a feature on the UK’s roads. It’s positive to hear that trials will be beginning in 2018, but the government needs to act swiftly and to ensure that the laws ensure road users are as safe as they can be.
“The LSE survey highlights road users’ uncertainty around autonomous vehicles and, unfortunately, it seems that some will be willing to exploit opportunities to take advantage of them if it means they can get to where they’re going more quickly, which will bring the risk of increased danger for others.
“It’s up to the government to educate British drivers, and for motorists themselves to be willing to learn more about autonomous vehicles, so that road users aren’t unnecessarily injured.”
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