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Majority of drivers unaware of potential safety benefits of autonomous vehicles

Many people are unaware of the positive impact autonomous vehicles are expected to have on road safety in the UK, despite the fact that 94% of road accidents are caused by human error.

Autonomous Volvo with man reading newspaper

The Venson research finds over half (55%) of people think road laws will have to change when driverless cars take to the roads

So says Venson following its research on people’s attitudes to driverless cars and road safety.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) serious road accidents could fall by more than 25,000, saving 2,500 lives every year as a result of driverless technology in 2030. However, Venson’s survey reveals that only 20% of people understand the true safety benefits of autonomous vehicles, with 53% thinking the SMMT figure would be more like 10,000, saving just 1,000 lives.

Simon Staton, director of client management at Venson Automotive Solutions, added: “Highways England believes that “connected and autonomous vehicles could be the breakthrough innovation that’s needed to achieve the 2040 safety ambition of reducing accidents down to, as close as possible, zero. Only 30% of our respondents believed this target achievable, with 38% predicting injuries and fatalities will halve.”

When asked who should be liable, in the event of an accident by a driverless car, 22% said the remote vehicle operator, with only 12% saying the driver. However, an overwhelming majority (44%) said it should be a combination of the driver, remote vehicle operator, vehicle manufacturer and the software or hardware developer, showing recognition of the complexities of automated vehicles and liability.

The survey has been published ahead of Brake Road Safety Week 2016 (21-27 November), which focuses on the theme of ‘Make the Brake Pledge’, urging motorists to slow down, stay sober, secure, sharp, silent and sustainable.

Simon Staton commented: “The ‘Make the Brake Pledge’ urges drivers to minimise the risk of an accident by slowing down and avoiding distractions, such as mobile phones. However, automated vehicles equipped with a wide range of sensors won’t make those mistakes, which could see road accidents fall significantly, when this technology becomes mainstream. Until driverless cars become the norm on UK roads, Road Safety Week reminds everyone to focus on driving safely to lower the risk of accidents.”

Venson has also published a free White Paper looking at the changes that need to take place for autonomous vehicles to take to the roads and the benefits they offer. To download the paper, visit: http://www.venson.com/Media/ViewWhitePaper/22

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.