Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Fleets should make major contribution to self-driving cars inquiry, Fleetcheck argues
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Fleets should make major contribution to self-driving cars inquiry, Fleetcheck argues

Date: 04 July 2022   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Fleets need to make their thoughts on self-driving car technology clear as part of a new inquiry, according to software firm Fleetcheck.

The UK Government's Transport Select Committee has announced it will be investigating the deployment and development of self-driving vehicles on the country's roads.

The inquiry will consider the progress of research and work on the technology in the UK and abroad, and what needs to happen to prepare for the vehicles' potential arrival, including regulation, perceptions of safety, the role of the government, and implications for infrastructure and existing car use.

The inquiry follows the publication in April of proposed changes to the Highway Code to make self-driving cars viable, and the launch of a consultation on the subject from the Law Commission of England and Wales.

Fleetcheck managing director Peter Golding argued that, as fleets were likely to be major early adopters of autonomous vehicles should they reach the roads, they should make their views clear to the inquiry.

Golding said: "We've already had the Law Commission look at this subject in some detail and this new inquiry should build on that work alongside other investigations into how autonomous technology might be used in the future.

"Our view is that fleets need to be a big part of this. As almost certainly the main buyers and earliest adopters for vehicles with these kinds of capabilities, we should make sure that our voices are heard."

According to Fleetcheck, concerns about self-driving technology is likely to fall into two parts.

Golding said: "Our view is that concerns are likely to fall into two parts. One is that as employers, fleets need to know that any technology fitted to cars and vans used by their drivers is absolutely as safe as it can be. Our people and other road users must be protected.

"The other is a complete understanding of how autonomous tech fits in with existing duty of care responsibilities. Giving a third-party control of a vehicle is a significant change in this area and not something that should be done lightly."

Golding added that it was also important for fleets to make their views known, given the concerns he knew existed within the industry.

He said: "I don't think I am being controversial if I say that I hear quite a lot of scepticism among fleet operators about this technology and the temptation for manufacturers to push for its use before it is really ready.

"Certainly, every commentary I have read on the subject in recent years contains the same message - that engineers have 90% solved the issue of self-driving but are having trouble with the last 10%. That would be too big a risk for any fleet.

"The industry is relying on regulators - over whom the Select Committee should have an influence - to ensure that no vehicle makes it to market carrying tech that is not fully proven in real world conditions."