In the final part of our four part series on road safety with a police driving instructor, Driver Training Standards manager at South Wales Police, Gareth Morgan tells us how smart tech will change the way we drive
Plans to introduce driverless, or autonomous, cars in the UK were unveiled by the government in 2016. The consultation outlined reforms to ready the roads for advanced driver assistance and driverless technology as the United Kingdom accelerated their plans towards cars which control themselves.
According to GOV.UK connected vehicles are described as vehicles with advanced levels of automation which use information gathered from on-board sensors to understand the car’s position and environment. This type of technology means minimal driver input is required; in some cases it’s not required at all.
How will driverless cars affect drivers?
Many are unsure about this development, with concerns surrounding the safety of this new technology.
Gareth told us he believes the majority of motorists will be sceptical of these developments initially while others will embrace them immediately.
He said: “When you actually analyse what is happening globally, it’s a natural progression in respect of road safety and efficiency in fuel economy and transport costs. I accept it’s still in its infancy, although many universities in the UK are now actively researching its applications and safety systems.
“Once the technology issues are resolved and the correct infrastructure is in place, it will soon become common place. That being said though, it’s going to be a huge cultural change when intermixing driverless with driven cars.”
Do the police use automated technology?
With regards to the police using the vehicles, he thinks they could benefit, but only once extensive research had been done into the area. He said: “The Police always try to adopt new technology and move with the times, as appropriate. 40 years ago, who would have thought police officers would be using digital notebooks?”
However, he knows there’ll be a lot of hurdles to clear before we see fully-automated police cars with the issue of who to prosecute in the event of an accident a big concern.
“The litigation issues are going to be extremely complex. Who do you sue, or who do we prosecute - the manufacturer or the software engineer? We need to prove the guilty party, in this case there isn’t one - other than the computer!”
What technology will make drivers safer?
In terms of technological advances he thinks are already helping, Gareth said the GoPro is really worthwhile as it enables officers to capture data after a collision and anti-social driver behaviour.
The GO SAFE partnership in Wales actively encourages motorists to send the police videos of bad driving behaviour so they can take any necessary action. The Operation SNAP website has all the information you need.
On the subject of black box insurance, he acknowledged the developments in this area have been really positive. He said: “There have been huge developments in data tracking systems in cars, especially those aimed at younger drivers over the past decade. In fact, the research we undertook found it was more than capable of differentiating between differing levels of driver skill, which supports the use of black box or telematics technology.
“Telematics has also been used within the police force, resulting in significant reductions in damage, collisions and fuel usage.”
As with autonomous cars, there’s still some confusion around telematics technology with many people believing the myths surrounding black box insurance. To help clear a few things up we created a mythbuster guide to debunk some of the most common ones.