Watching TV in self-driving cars will be permitted under the Highway Code

Image credit: The Street Journal

According to planned changes to the Highway Code, those who use self-driving cars would be able to watch television on built-in screens. The government says the reforms will require drivers to be ready to regain control of their vehicles when requested.

The initial applications of self-driving technology are anticipated to be on highways at modest speeds, such as in heavy traffic.

However, it will remain unlawful to use a cellphone while driving.

Self-driving cars are not currently permitted on UK roads, but the Department for Transport (DfT) has stated that the first self-driving vehicles could be available later this year.

The anticipated code changes are expected to be implemented this summer.

The changes, which were recommended after public consultation, are defined as a temporary solution to encourage early use of the technology, with a full legal framework expected to be in place by 2025.

They will also state that users of self-driving cars will not be held liable in the event of a collision.

According to the Department for Transport, insurance companies, not people, would be liable for claims.

In April of last year, the government stated that hands-free driving in vehicles equipped with lane-keeping technology would be permitted on congested highways.

Automated lane-keeping system technology allows a vehicle to travel up to 37 mph (60 km/h) in a single lane while maintaining the ability to return control to the driver when necessary.

Motorists should be prepared to take control of an automated system when instructed, such as when approaching a highway exit, according to the new guidelines.

According to the Department of Transport, the current technology is “assistive,” which means drivers should always maintain control.

When the driver needs to resume control, experts recommend that a vehicle disable built-in screens that display material unrelated to driving.

According to Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, a motoring research organisation, driverless cars “offer a future where death and injury on our roads are dramatically reduced.”

However, he predicted that there would be a “long period of transition” during which drivers would maintain “most of the responsibility for what happens” when driving.