Motorcyclists need influential role in AV safety debate.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has explained why motorcyclists need an influential role in the autonomous vehicle (AV) safety debate.  Responding to a consultation on a self-driving vehicle safety standard, MAG rejects subjectivity in favour of rigorous real-world measurement. 

AV safety debate

The Government announced plans in August to roll out self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2025, with trials on motorways starting in 2023.  A consultation asking for views on a proposed safety standard for self-driving vehicles closes on Friday 14th October.  Recognising that self-driving technology cannot be 100% safe, the bar suggested is that self-driving vehicles should be as safe as a ‘competent and careful’ human driver.

MAG’s consultation response rejects the proposed standard, saying that it is far too subjective.  It calls for a far more complex and rigorous measurement backed with removal of licences and models that fail to achieve a statistical target. 

Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said:

“Given the level of technological and scientific rigor needed to develop self-driving vehicles it is incongruous to then set a subjective safety target.  You wouldn’t send a rocket to land on the moon while saying ‘hopefully it will end up somewhere in the vicinity of the moon’.  Motorcyclists face being the first vulnerable road user group that will interact with self-driving vehicles.  It is clear that there are many concerns which are entirely valid.  Motorcyclists will play a role in the debate, and it must be influential.  Self-driving technology should be developed to benefit humanity; we see no sense in forcing humanity to adapt to fit in with any of its shortcomings.  If these vehicles cannot safely interact with us as human riders, then they have no place being rolled out.”

MAG welcomes any prospect of improved safety of riders.  The consultation points out that the average driver in the UK does not meet the standard of competent and careful.  However, improved safety must not be achieved at the expense of the freedom to enjoy riding motorcycles.


Critically, MAG’s response asks policymakers to note that not all road use is purely for utility purposes.  Use of the road as a form of leisure is a legitimate use of the nation’s road infrastructure.  Therefore, riding a motorcycle for pleasure needs to be protected throughout the process of technological developments.

The full consultation response can be seen here.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash