The concept of a 50-tonne truck hurtling down a motorway without a human being at the controls has some road safety experts concerned.
The UK’s Department of Transport has just announced a truck platooning trial, involving self-driving trucks, will commence on some of England’s busiest motorways next year.
But Britain’s biggest independent road safety charity, IAM Roadsmart, is concerned about things possibly going wrong.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research tells us there needs to be more reassurances around issues such as cyber-attacks, before the trials go ahead.
“Motorways are our safest roads and that record must not be jeopardised by any rush towards autonomous technology.
“The pilot study may answer these questions but car and motorbike users will need a lot of reassurance that the systems will not block the inside lane with an extra-long ‘wall’ of trucks.”
And Neil says there needs to be real evidence that platooning with self-driving trucks brings benefits before it is given the green light.
“The technology exists to implement platooning but in the real world it must deliver real economic benefits to outweigh our safety worries.
“How will other drivers know which trucks are in a platoon? Will the sight of tailgating trucks be a distraction? Can we still use slip roads and view important roadside signs clearly?
“The public quite rightly also have real concerns in the light of current terrorist attacks and the rise in cybercrime generally.
“These are all genuine questions in people’s minds that need to be answered by the trial.”
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