Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Watching TV to be allowed in self-driving cars in Highway Code update

Users of self-driving cars will not be responsible for crashes under proposed changes to the Highway Code (Philip Toscano/PA)
Users of self-driving cars will not be responsible for crashes under proposed changes to the Highway Code (Philip Toscano/PA)

Users of self-driving cars will not be responsible for crashes under proposed changes to the Highway Code.

Insurance companies rather than individuals will be liable for claims in those circumstances, the Department for Transport said (DfT).

The update to the Code will make it clear that motorists must be ready to take back control of vehicles when needed.

The DfT also intends to allow drivers to watch television programmes and films on built-in screens while using self-driving cars.

It will still be illegal to use a phone behind the wheel.

These measures – which follow a public consultation – were described as an interim measure by the Government to support the early deployment of self-driving vehicles.

A full regulatory framework is expected to be in place by 2025.

There are no vehicles approved for self-driving on Britain’s roads, but the first could be given the go-ahead this year.

The DfT announced in April 2021 it would allow hands-free driving in vehicles with lane-keeping technology on congested motorways.

Existing technology on the market such as cruise control and automatic stop/start is classified as “assistive”, meaning users must remain fully in control.

Transport minister Trudy Harrison said updating to the Highway Code will be a “major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles”, which she claimed will “revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable”.

She went on: “This exciting technology is developing at pace right here in Great Britain and we’re ensuring we have strong foundations in place for drivers when it takes to our roads.

“In doing so, we can help improve travel for all while boosting economic growth across the nation and securing Britain’s place as a global science superpower.”

The development of self-driving vehicles could create around 38,000 new jobs in Britain and be worth £41.7 billion to the economy by 2035, according to the DfT.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said driverless cars “promise a future where death and injury on our roads are cut significantly” but there is likely to be a “long period of transition” while drivers retain “much of the responsibility for what happens”.

He stressed the importance of changes to regulations being communicated to drivers.

“Vehicle manufacturers and sellers will have a vital role to play in ensuring their customers fully appreciate the capabilities of the cars they buy and the rules that govern them,” he said.