The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is extremely concerned by today’s announcement that self-driving vehicles could be allowed on UK motorways as soon as next year. With EuroNCAP testing of detection and reaction to motorcycles only scheduled to start in 2023, MAG wants evidence that motorcyclists will not be placed at risk.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today unveiled plans to allow self-driving vehicles to be rolled out on UK roads by 2025. Some vehicles, including cars, coaches and lorries, with self-driving features could be operating on motorways in the next year. Today’s (19 August 2022) plans set out new legislation allowing for the wider rollout of self-driving vehicles by 2025.
Announcements were made in October 2021 that EuroNCAP will start testing driver support systems in cars, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Support Systems, on their performance in detecting and reacting to motorcyclists from 2023.
The Motorcycle Action Group has long expressed concerns that detection systems do not adequately cope with motorcyclists. In 2016, research by RDW (the Netherlands Vehicle Authority) showed that cars with an innovative driving system, such as an adaptive cruise control, were capable of noticing motorcycles, but when motorcycles rode at the edge of their lane, the adaptive cruise control did not respond well to them. In many tests, action had to be taken by the driver of the car to prevent a collision.
MAG Chair, Neil Liversidge, commented:
“It is a source of great concern that – once again – the interests of motorcyclists are an afterthought. Years of development of these systems have not taken sufficient care of motorcyclists’ interests. Whilst the elimination of driver error may be a laudable goal, it is of no interest if that error is simply replaced by automatic incompetence. We will be holding the Government and authorities to account and demanding to see genuine evidence that these vehicles will not place riders at higher risk than human drivers do. Given that independent testing is yet to commence, I find it hard to understand how the Minister can be so confident that the roll-out is sensible at this time.”