Rishi Sunak blasted for being ‘too weak and too vague’ on driverless car safety 

Rishi Sunak’s safety stance on driverless cars has been branded “too weak’ and “too vague” by the Transport Committee in a major blow.

Earlier this month the Government announced new laws to regulate the use of self-driving vehicles on UK roads.

However, they decided to opt against a Transport Committee suggestion regarding vehicle safety.

Committee members said driverless vehicles should be “expected to achieve an equivalent level of safety to that of a competent and careful human driver.”

However, ministers rejected the recommendation that it needed to set out a clearer threshold and definition.

Instead, the Government will publish a ‘Statement of Safety Principles’ to support the assessment of self-driving models.

Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart backed the Government’s decision to push forward with driverless vehicles but sent a firm warning to officials.

The MP said: “Britain’s cutting-edge self-driving vehicles sector was crying out for new legislation, so we applaud the Government for staying ahead of our international competitors and bringing forward the Automated Vehicles Bill so that this British success story stays on track.

“It is also welcome that DfT is taking a serious look at other practical considerations around educating and training drivers, improving digital infrastructure and having regard for the wellbeing of other road users, including those with accessibility needs. However, we await more detail on these points.

“We remain concerned that the Government’s ambition for how safe SDVs should be may end up being too weak and too vague and that a more fleshed out, stronger threshold should be set out.

“We look forward to scrutinising the Automated Vehicles Bill when it reaches the House of Commons.”

The Committee also heard concerns that motorists using driverless vehicles may become “less skilled over time’.

Many were also worried that road users would have to learn how to take back control of a car with little notice.

But, the Government simply responded that “work is underway to consider the education, training and licensing needs of drivers”.

The Committee’s report also urged ministers to “take a cautious, gradual approach with the technology”.

They also warned driverless cars would require an infrastructure boost with new signs, nationwide connectivity and up-to-date information.

This was partially accepted by the Government with the Department for Transport admitting infrastructure could “support and enhance self-driving and connected vehicle technologies”.

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