Controversial UK Law Will Allow Watching TV Behind The Wheel Of A Self-Driving Car
New proposed updates to the Highway Code concerning self-driving cars in the UK will allow a human driver to watch television or other video media on a built-in screen while the car is in charge of driving duties. However, drivers will still not be allowed to use cell phones.
There are currently no self-driving vehicles allowed on the roads in the UK, but later this year that's supposed to change. In preparation for this, the UK Department of Transport is looking at making changes to the Highway Code to accommodate the addition of self-driving cars to the motorways in the country. The proposed changes are supposed to be added over the summer.
Perhaps the most controversial of the proposed updates is that it will allow drivers, who have handed over control of their car to an autonomous driving system, the right to watch television on built-in screens. According to experts, however, a vehicle with a built-in display can pause what is on the screen automatically when the motorist is needed to take back control. Regardless, this may be of little consolation to those concerned about someone being distracted because they are binge-watching their favorite Netflix show while behind the wheel of a car, whether it's self-driving or not.
Part of the proposed changes includes the statement, "While a self-driving vehicle is driving itself in a valid situation, you are not responsible for how it drives. You may turn your attention away from the road and you may also view content through the vehicle's built-in infotainment apparatus, if available."
While consuming media from a built-in screen will be allowed, using one's cell phone will still be prohibited, even if the vehicle is driving itself. This is mainly due to the fact that it is assumed that one of the driver's hands will be occupied with the device, and if they need to resume control of the vehicle it could cause issues. That has not stopped many drivers in America who are in full control of their automobile from catching up with notifications on their smartphones while darting in and out of traffic on a busy road. There is one exception noted, however, and that is if the driver needs to make an emergency call the proposed law would provide for that use case.
Trudy Harrison, Transport Minister, stated that updating the Highway Code will be a "major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles." She added that self-driving vehicles will "revolutionize the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable."
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