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UK’s worn-out road network to stall driverless cars plans

Under measures revealed by Business Secretary Vince Cable, UK cities can now bid for a share of a £10m competition to host a driverless cars trial,

Up to three cities will be selected to host the trials from next year and each project is expected to last between 18 and 36 months and start in January 2015.

Ministers have also launched a review to look at current road regulations and ensure there is an appropriate regime for testing driverless cars in the UK. 

In response, George Lee, national director of the RSMA, said: ‘By 2025, at least half the travel on Europe’s roads will be in vehicles that can read the road ahead including markings and signs. But vehicles, like drivers, cannot function if basic road markings and signs are non-existent, non-compliant, worn out, obscured, inconsistent or confusing. In spite of the best efforts of local authorities and utility companies, roadworks are frequently chaotic, and difficult to negotiate for even the most experienced driver.

‘We know from our own extensive survey of the UK’s local and national road network that half of markings need replacing immediately or scheduled for replacing.

‘Poor maintenance and worn and inconsistent road markings and traffic signs are now a major obstacle to the effective use of technology in vehicles, such as lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition.

‘The prospect of self-driving cars is exciting; the reality of cars that can read roads is already with us; but it would be a huge step forward if we could have roads that can be read easily by humans – who still account for the vast majority of road users,’ added Lee.

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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.