I didn’t know this: in England, the average driver spends 235 hours – six working weeks – behind the wheel every year.
The Department for Transport (DfT) told me this in a document called ‘The Pathway to Driverless Cars’, which says that driverless cars are coming and thatyou really ought to like it.
They will make access to cars easier (nearly half of under-30s can’t drive), reduce congestion and accidents and improve air quality.
For good measure, the DfT is trying to position the UK as the world’s best place to develop driverless cars. And why not? We have great researchers, changeable weather and challenging roads.
Crucially, the UK never ratified the Vienna Convention, which insists that “every moving vehicle or combination of vehicles shall have a driver” who “shall at all times be able to control his vehicle”. So while other countries revoke laws or issue special permits for driverless research, here engineers can just get on with it.
But what I like most about the DfT’s Pathway is that it treads softly. “The Government is developing a light-touch, non-regulatory approach to the testing and development of these technologies,” it says. The whole document reads like a virtuous, altruistic experiment.