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The UK Government plans to introduce Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) onto roads in early 2021 could put road users’ lives at risk. That’s according to Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) who are asking the government to undertake further work with insurers and the automotive industry to ensure road safety is fully considered before introducing ALKS.

The two groups have raised concerns around both the functionality of ALKS technology and the regulations under which they will operate as they cannot replicate what a competent and engaged human driver can do. Thatcham Research and the ABI, say they are not safe enough to be classified as ‘Automated Driving’.

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research Director of Research explains: “Motorists could feasibly watch television in their car from early next year because they believe their Automated Lane Keeping System can be completely trusted to do the job of a human driver. But that’s not the reality. The limitations of the technology mean it should be classified as ‘Assisted Driving’ because the driver must be engaged, ready to take over.”

James Dalton, ABI Director, General Insurance Policy, adds: “The insurance industry is 100 percent committed to supporting the development of automated vehicles, which have the potential to dramatically improve road safety and revolutionise our transport systems. Vehicles equipped with an automated lane-keeping system are a great step towards developing automated vehicles.

“However, drivers must not be given unrealistic expectations about a system’s capability. Thatcham Research has identified some concerning scenarios where ALKS may not operate safely without the driver intervening. We strongly believe the timings for the introduction of ALKS should be revised to prevent lives being put at risk.”

The UK Government could still allow Automated Lane Keeping Systems to be the first Automated Driving technology on UK motorways up to speeds of 70 mph from Spring 2021 – pending the results of a safety consultation that ends on 27th October, 2020.

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