Road safety charity Brake launch of three driverless vehicle trials

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Driverless Cars Trail
Driverless Cars Trail

Brake, the road safety charity, has hailed the launch of three driverless vehicle trials as an exciting step towards a safer, more sustainable future for UK road travel, and a long-term goal of ending needless road deaths.

The trials are being launched in Greenwich – location of the GATEway trial – by transport minister Claire Perry and business secretary Vince Cable, alongside publication of a Department for Transport report setting out the pathway for the widespread introduction of the technology.

The trials, being led by three consortia and supported by government funding, are taking place in Greenwich, Bristol, and a combined project split between Milton Keynes and Coventry. They will last from 18 to 36 months, and will assess how driverless vehicles function in everyday life on public roads and their scope for making road travel safer and more sustainable. The trials will look at how the technology can be used to improve public and private transport in busy and complex road environments.

Predicted benefits of the technology include [1]:

  • cutting the 94% of road deaths and injuries that involve human error;
  • saving the six working weeks the average driver in England would otherwise spend driving;
  • providing better access to sustainable and low-cost transport for everyone, including the 14% of men, 31% of women and 46% of 17-30 year olds who don’t hold a full driving licence.

Brake’s deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, will be serving on the advisory group for the Greenwich trial. This trial is known as the GATEway project and is led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake said: “We’re hugely excited to see these trials get underway and to be advising on the GATEway project in Greenwich, where road safety and sustainable travel are clearly at the forefront. We believe driverless technology could hold the key to ending the needless suffering caused every day by road deaths and serious injuries. We witness the aftermath of road casualties, and the terrible and lasting impact on families and communities, through our support services for crash victims. We know from research that the vast majority of these tragedies are caused by human error and risk-taking, so this technology could be a critical move towards stopping them. Driverless vehicles could transform the way we use roads, helping to ensure everyone can get around through safe, sustainable and affordable means, and making our communities more pleasant and sociable places.”