Updates have been made to the Highway Code in preparation for the new wave of latest technology set to be introduced next year.
These changes came into play on the 1st of July and have been implemented to ensure autonomous vehicle technology will be used safely, once fully introduced in the UK.
Self-driving vehicles differ from vehicles that are only fitted with assisted driving features, such as cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. Assisted driving can do some of the driving, but the driver still needs to be responsible for the driving at all times.
While driving a self-driving vehicle is driving itself, in a valid situation, you are not responsible for how it drives. You may turn your attention away from the road and you may also view content through the vehicle’s built-in infotainment systems, if available.
A self-driving car’s ability to drive itself can be limited depending on the situation. For example, things like the type of road, time of day, location or weather might impact this. Always follow the manufacturer’s guide on when and how to use the function safely.
You must however still follow the relevant laws:
You must be fit to drive. For example, you must be within the drink-drive legal limit and not be under the influence of drugs.
The car must be road legal, it must have an MOT certificate and if applicable, must be taxed and insured.
You must not do anything illegal. You cannot use a handheld mobile or any similar handheld device. There are expectations to this that are outlined in rule 149.
Changes explain that while travelling in self-driving mode, motorists must “always be able and ready to take control, and do it when the vehicle prompts you.”
Once you have taken back control, or have turned off the self-driving function, you will be fully responsible for all aspects of driving.
Whilst these updates might not affect everyone right now, it is still important to understand the importance of your responsibility for your own safety and other road users. The latest version of the highway code is now LIVE in your 4-in-1 app.