Vehicles on a motorway

Hands-free driving could be on UK roads by spring

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PA Media

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Long stretches of motorway driving could become a thing of the past

Hands-free driving could arrive on UK roads by spring next year, the government has said, as it launched a consultation on the technology.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued a call for evidence into automated lane keeping systems (ALKS).

Such technology controls a car’s movements and can keep it in lane for extended periods, although drivers need to be ready to take back control.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders claims it could cut accidents.

The technology could be given the go ahead for speeds of up to 70mph, according to the DfT, potentially making long stretches of tedious motorway driving a thing of the past.

ALKS technology has been approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), of which the UK is a member.

The UK government wants to hear from voices within the motoring industry to decide how to safely implement the technology, with the consultation closing on 27 October.

Introducing the systems would require changes to current legal framework.

The call for evidence will also look at whether ALKS-enabled cars should be classed as automated, meaning the technology provider rather than the driver would be responsible for safety while the system is engaged.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “Automated technology could make driving safer, smoother and easier for motorists and the UK should be the first country to see these benefits, attracting manufacturers to develop and test new technologies.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said automated technologies would be “life-changing” and could prevent 47,000 serious accidents in the next 10 years.

The AA’s president, Edmund King, has welcomed the move, saying the UK is right to look into measures which could potentially make roads safer.