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Are self-driving cars really the solution to UK road congestion in 2015?

January 29th

The subject of traffic congestion, blocked roads and unsafe highways are core areas of debate for us here at Clearview Traffic, and as we progress into 2015, the hot topic of road congestion will undoubtedly re-appear in UK media.

We've discussed solutions for easing traffic congestion by using smart technology at length on our blog, find out more about previous thought-leadership on this here.

One of the discussed potential solutions to traffic congestion in the UK has been the possibility of self-driving cars, as highlighted in this article.

Whilst a self-driving car might seem like an attractive option for the future, it's worth pointing out that any technologically-based solution is only as good as the weakest link.

For example, self-driving cars will only become a truly safe option once they are commonplace on roads, whilst humans are in charge of a car, they remain the lowest common denominator, and unless self-driving cars can be programmed to react the same way in accidents as humans, and we know that to date they don't, then accidents will continue to occur.

It's not yet clear from any modelling or trials that are currently underway, how the current road infrastructure and self-driving cars would deal with these accidents. How will we assess who is at fault? Who is liable?

Currently, the production and manufacturing costs of self-driving cars means they won't be commercially available in mainstream consumer vehicles until the end of the decade: considering that the average lifespan of a car is 10 years, we're not set to see self-driving cars on a widespread basis until 2030.

Another consideration are drivers of vintage and classic cars, which have no technology in place at this level, would they be banned from driving on UK roads?

It's hard to imagine a Morgan or Jaguar E-type enthusiast happily installing a self-drive black box into their beloved classic car, let alone considering retro-fitting any technology.

It is, however, an interesting article that raises many questions about traffic congestion, road safety and smart technology on our roads in 2015 and beyond.

To find out more about how Clearview Traffic are helping to transform road networks in the UK, please get in touch here.

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