Autonomous cars can never replace human drivers, says MEP Deirdre Clune

European Parliament agrees some automatic driving systems should be mandatory

The committee wants to see new vehicle technologies such as automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian and cyclist detection or lane-keeping assistance installed in all cars sold in the EU. Photograph: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

The committee wants to see new vehicle technologies such as automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian and cyclist detection or lane-keeping assistance installed in all cars sold in the EU. Photograph: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

 

New autonomous driving technologies in cars can help save lives but they can never replace well-trained humans and drivers should be able to override technologies such as lane assist and automatic breaking.

That is according to MEP Deirdre Clune, a member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee which last week called for mandatory driver assistance systems in cars, trucks, buses and coaches.

The committee wants to see new vehicle technologies such as automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian and cyclist detection or lane-keeping assistance installed in all cars sold in the EU.

On Thursday, the committee voted to step up Europe’s efforts to better protect vulnerable road users from fatal accidents and serious injuries. The vote in the parliament, which Ms Clune supported, called for mandatory driver assistance systems, driver training and investment in road infrastructure.

Every year some 25,500 people die on Europe’s roads and 135,000 are seriously injured.

“Every death and every single seriously injured person is simply one too many. Europe needs to act now”.

Ms Clune said mandatory driver assistance systems in cars, trucks, buses and coaches could save lives.

But she said “even if these systems pave the way for autonomous driving, they can never replace well-qualified drivers on high quality roads. Therefore these systems should be capable of being over ridden. Driver training and enough funding for maintenance and renewal of the infrastructure are also important preconditions to improve road safety in member States.”

She added: “five out of ten of all fatal road accident victims in urban areas are pedestrians and cyclists”.

The transport committee decided that only those driver assistance systems which make a contribution to road safety, have a favourable cost-benefit ratio and have already attained market maturity should be mandatory.