Self-Driving Cars Could Cause ‘Mass Casualties,’ Warns MP

Lawmakers in the UK warn that self-driving cars could cause “mass casualties” if rolled out without strong new laws. “Self-driving vehicles are a great British success story in the making, but they could become a serious risk without proper safety legislation,” said Iain Stewart, chair of the Transport Committee.

Questionable Assumptions about Safety

Many people believe that self-driving cars are safer than those driven by humans. The Transport Committee contradicts this view. The safety of self-driving vehicles isn’t guaranteed and optimistic expectations might mislead the public.

Cybersecurity Risks

Aside from safety, another concern is the cybersecurity of these vehicles. Lawmakers found that the connected nature of autonomous cars might make them targets for cyberattacks. “Your steering, your braking, your acceleration could be taken over by a malicious actor,” warned Ashley Feldman from Tech UK.

Weak Government Stance

The current government approach toward self-driving vehicles lacks force and clarity. Lawmakers demand the introduction of a robust legal framework before any more steps to roll out self-driving cars. “All that hard work could be at risk if the government doesn’t bring forward a Transport Bill in the next parliamentary session,” Iain Stewart stressed.

Financial Investments at Risk

The UK’s sector for autonomous vehicles has attracted significant investments. For instance, Wayve received £160 million in a funding round that involved Microsoft and Virgin. If lawmakers’ concerns are ignored, these financial investments could suffer.

International Standing

Iain Stewart warns that the UK could lose its competitive edge in self-driving technology without quick government action.


Cyberterrorism: A Serious Issue

MPs also discuss a nightmare scenario where a large-scale cyber-terrorist attack targets self-driving vehicles, leading to “mass casualties.” This emphasizes the need for strong cybersecurity measures.

Self-Driving Cars Operating Now in the UK

The Forth Road Bridge in Scotland and the Heathrow Pod in London currently host the UK’s only active self-driving vehicles. Ford recently received permission to use its BlueCruise system on specific UK roads, but the technology is available only in high-end models like the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Skills Erosion among Human Drivers

Experts and lawmakers also discuss the diminishing skills of human drivers as cars become more automated. “Greater automation will reduce time spent driving. Over time drivers may become less practiced and less skilled,” warned the Transport Committee.

Road Safety and Driver Involvement

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents shares concerns about driver engagement. “The real challenge is keeping that person engaged,” said Becky Guy, Road Safety Manager for England for the organization.

Government Optimism Meets Real-World Complexity

The government is optimistic about the benefits of self-driving cars but hasn’t fully acknowledged the risks. “Safety must remain the government’s overriding priority,” the Transport Committee advises.

Lawmakers’ Recommendations

The Transport Committee advises that driving tests should change and that plans should be made to educate drivers on self-driving car limits and functions. The MPs emphasize that public safety needs immediate attention.

Lawmakers, experts, and involved parties alike, all agree that we need strong laws before self-driving cars become common on UK streets.