If you were hoping to someday rid yourself of the need to check the driving licences of your employees by utilising driverless cars, we have both good and bad news. The good news is that we are one step closer to driverless cars with the release of an official government rulebook outlining how companies can test their vehicles. The bad news is that we are nowhere close to having driverless cars dominate the roads. Moreover, when and if they do, it is likely that operators will need a full driving licence just in case something goes wrong.
Earlier this year, the government released working guidelines relating to the licensing of people who will eventually use driverless cars for routine transportation. Those guidelines suggested no licence would be necessary for urban environments where operation would be limited. The new rulebook seems to suggest otherwise.
Rules for testing driverless vehicles require fully licensed car drivers to be the operators. In addition, operators will not be able to distract themselves by using their mobile phones, reading, or doing anything else that would take their eyes off the road and the vehicle.
The rules go one step further by requiring drivers to be familiar with all of the control systems of the vehicle just in case automation must be shut down in favour of manual driving. You can bet chosen testers will first undergo a reasonable amount of training.
Future of Driverless Cars
The mere fact that the government has published a rulebook outlining how driverless cars can be tested clearly indicates that we are one step closer to a future many of us have been dreaming about for decades. And while this is good news, it is not a valid reason to get ahead of ourselves. We are still a long way away from the days of climbing into a car, inputting a destination, and ultimately trusting an automated system to get us there safely.
Even the most reliable automated systems require licensed drivers to make up for the inadequacies of computers. It is one thing to put a computerised robot on the assembly line to perform the same task where nothing ever changes. Nevertheless, driving is entirely different. It is a fluid exercise subject to constant environmental changes that computers are not yet capable of adjusting to on their own. The first several generations of driverless cars will not truly be driverless. They will be semi-autonomous, sharing responsibility with a human driver capable of adapting to changing conditions.
Your company will not be switching to driverless cars any time in the near future. Therefore, you still have the responsibility of checking the driving licences of your employees on a regular basis. Fleet Licence Check can help by providing a one-off service or routine licence checking as part of a comprehensive package designed for the unique needs of your business. Call us to learn more about our licence checking and claims handling services.
1.Gizmodo – http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2015/07/government-publishes-autonomous-vehicle-rulebook/