Self-driving cars get government backing

Changes to the Highway Code have been made, meaning autonomous cars could hit roads as early as the end of this year

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The government has set out changes to the Highway Code to ensure self-driving cars can hit UK roads.

The main change to the code is that while drivers travel in self-driving mode, they must be ready at all times to take back control, especially for sharp turns or while travelling at speed; such as exiting a motorway.

Ensuring this new technology is used safely is the highest priority, the government says, with Britain’s first autonomous vehicles possibly ready for use later this year.

It has stressed that stringent standards will be in place that vehicles must follow if they are to be approved for use on the roads.

A full legal framework for these cars is still being developed by the government.

Mobile phone use in self-driving cars will be illegal due to the distraction it poses, however, content not related to driving that is available on built-in display screens will be given the green light.

The government has revealed that the introduction of these vehicles could create around 38,000 new jobs that could be worth £41.7 billion by 2035.

Trudy Harrison, Transport Minister, said: “This is a major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles, which will revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable.

“This exciting technology is developing at pace right here in Great Britain and we’re ensuring we have strong foundations in place for drivers when it takes to our roads.”