Self-Driving Cars: Potentially Disastrous for Motorbikes

New Laws in the UK will make it legal to watch movies while your car is driving itself

Proposed updates to the UK Highway Code would make it legal for owners of self-driving cars to watch movies while the car is driving itself. Even worse, the ’drivers’ would not be liable for any accident that happened while doing this.

Watching TV in Self-Driving Cars Could Be Made Legal

Self-Driving Cars: Potentially Disastrous for Motorbikes
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Autonomous Cars
New legislation in the UK proposes to make it legal to watch a movie in your car whilst it is driving itself. But you still can’t use a mobile phone!

If electric cars aren’t enough for you, the development of autonomous - or self-driving - cars is set to be a feature of the motoring landscape in the future.

In the UK, self-driving vehicles are not legal at present, but controversial new guidelines are being proposed that would make it legal for people using self-driving cars to watch television on in-built screens whilst the car is in motion. Incredibly, using a mobile phone whilst being ’driven’ would remain illegal.

The proposals are intended to stimulate and support the early adoption of self-driving technology, currently being developed and tested by companies such as Apple, Google and Uber. The UK Department of Transport wants to start testing systems by the end of 2022 with a view to rolling out self-driving cars in 2025.

Self-Driving Cars: Potentially Disastrous for Motorbikes
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Only Cars On The Road?
If it was only cars on the roads, all moving at similar speeds, then perhaps there’s no problem. But add motorcycles into the mix and problems arise

If this isn’t stupid enough for you, then the proposed legislation would require the driver to take over control of the car in a dangerous situation. Quite how the driver would recognise this dangerous situation when his or her eyes were glued to a screen is not spelled out. It makes using a mobile phone while driving seem like the safest thing you could do.

Proponents of the technology claim that the many sensors placed around a self-driving car would be more alert than a human. However, there is concern that these sensors might not be able to recognise and react to fast-moving vehicles, such as motorcycles.

Self-Driving Cars: Potentially Disastrous for Motorbikes
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Autonomous Bikes
No point in having a self-riding motorcycle, but the technology would enable bikes to ’talk’ to cars

If that is worrying, then this next bit should make your toes curl. The proposed legislation removes responsibility for any accident from the individuals in the autonomous car, leaving insurance companies to pick up the tab and we all know what insurance companies do when they see their profits taking a dive: increase premiums, not to mention try and refuse a claim.

Which makes a farce of the idea that a ’driver’ would take over the driving in the event of a dangerous situation.

Self-Driving Cars: Potentially Disastrous for Motorbikes
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The arrival of autonomous cars seems inevitable but it is clear there needs to be a lot more thought around legislation and what we are and are not allowed to do when sitting in them.

Anything that encourages any rider or driver to not pay attention to the road around them is definitely a bad thing. This proposal seems like madness.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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