Drivers of semi-autonomous cars could be fined £1,000 if autopilot modes tempt their eyes off the road

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Palmers Partner, Jeremy Sirrell, has warned drivers of the latest breed of semi-autonomous cars that the police could fine them as much as £1,000 and issue penalty points if autopilot modes tempt their eyes off the road.

He made the comments with sophisticated driver assistance technologies expected to become ubiquitous over the course of the decade.

“Until recently, developments in in-car technology mainly related to innovations such as sat-navs, phone integration and entertainment systems, which have a clear potential for distraction.

“However, in addition to these technologies, some of the very latest cars to hit the road feature sophisticated driver assistance technologies such as adaptive cruise control and ‘autopilot’ modes,” said Jeremy.

He said that, while these technologies are not distractions and can sometimes bring safety benefits, they reduce the moment-to-moment need for a driver to be engaged with the task of driving, which may make it more difficult for them to maintain full concentration.

“While driver assistance technologies generally reduce the importance of driver engagement, the law still requires the driver to be in control of his or her vehicle at all times, irrespective of the sophistication of the car.

“Drivers of such cars who are found not to be in control of their vehicle are liable to a fine of up to £1,000 and points on their licence.

“This is for good reason. While the need to pay attention is generally reduced by driver assistance technologies, it is not negated absolutely and drivers must be able to intervene at any time to avert a collision.

“Drivers must not let ‘autopilot’ modes tempt their eyes off the road,” added Jeremy.


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