Road network needs to be in shape before driverless car trials can start, says RSMA
19 December 2014
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
The driverless car trials will not work without a well defined Government strategy and fully functioning road infrastructure, according to the Road Safety Markings Association.
The industry body is predicting that by 2025 more than half of all travelling in Europe will be in vehicles that can read road signs, adding these vehicles will not be able to function if road markings are worn-out, non-compliant, inconsistent or confusing.
The RSMA said in its most recent survey of the UK's road network half of the markings on local authority roads in England need replacing immediately, while 12% of markings on local authority roads are excellent.
The group said Highways Agency (which is changing its name to Highways England in 2015) roads fare a little better with 52% of markings on motorways need immediate replacement and 17% of markings on all roads are rated as excellent.
"Driverless car trials in towns and cities are exciting, but as dull as it sounds, getting the basic network in shape first is fundamental to success," said George Lee, national director of the RSMA.
The chancellor, George Osburne announced the four cities that will host the UK's first trials of driverless cars during this year's Autumn Statement, with Coventry, Milton Keynes, Bristol and London's borough of Greenwich the four taking Government funding to help develop the technology.
The trials can legally kick off from 1 January 2015, and will last for between 18 months and three years.
The Government announced in the chancellor's Autumn Statement that the fund for testing has been increased by £9m to £19m.
Technology firm Google is pioneering driverless cars, and intends to have models on sale in 2017, while other manufacturers including BMW, Audi, Nissan and Mercedes are also developing vehicles.