Drivers will be able to watch movies at the wheel of a driverless car, but the ban on using your mobile remains, as The Highway Code is set to be updated.
Under the proposed changes put forward by the Department for Transport, users of driverless vehicles will not be responsible for crashes but instead the liability will fall onto insurance companies.
The update will state that motorists must be ready to take back the wheel when needed but drivers will be allowed to watch television on built-in screens. The ban on using the phone will remain in place, though.
The government said the updates are an interim measure to support deployment, but a full regulatory framework will be in place by 2025.
According to transport minister Trudy Harrison, the Highway Code updates will be a “major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles”, it they will “revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable”.
The DfT said the development of self-driving cars could create around 38,000 new jobs and bring an additional £41.7bn to the economy by 2035.
“Vehicle manufacturers and sellers will have a vital role to play in ensuring their customers fully appreciate the capabilities of the cars they buy and the rules that govern them,” added Steve Gooding, director of the RAC foundation.
The proposal to allow driverless cars’ users to watch TV while driving faced criticism as it was deemed “incomprehensibly irresponsible.”
“Road users have always expressed concern over the introduction of self-driving cars, and this will be no help in building the confidence of reluctant consumers,” commented Louis Rix, co-founder of car finance platform CarFinance247.
“Though the proposals also indicate responsibility for any driving faults in self-driving cars will lie with the manufacturer rather than the driver, users will undoubtedly be worried about the effects it could have on their insurance premiums.”