- Three quarters (75%) of motorists say driverless cars will spell the end of courteous driving
- Flashing your lights (51%), letting cars out of side streets (32%) and being considerate to pedestrians (28%) among gestures that may disappear
- 7 in 10 drivers worry that humans and autonomous cars driving together could initially cause accidents or delays
- But drivers hope that some dangerous human habits will also be eradicated, such as tailgating (59%), cutting up other drivers (42%) and not indicating (41%).
Good manners on the road may become a thing of the past when driverless cars are introduced, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.
75% of drivers believe that the informal driving etiquette that forms an unwritten code on our roads could be misinterpreted by autonomous cars. Habits such as flashing your headlights to say thank you (51%), allowing fellow drivers out of side streets (32%), and being considerate to pedestrians (28%) may all be misunderstood.
Furthermore, as driverless technology may initially take road rules more literally than humans do, 70% of Brits are concerned that humans and machines driving together could initially cause accidents and delays.
On the other hand, with human error accounting for 90% of road traffic accidents, Brits hope that driverless technology will drive some of the more dangerous human habits off the road. Tailgating is the biggest bugbear they hope will disappear (59%), followed by cutting up other drivers (42%) and not indicating before making a turn or changing lane (41%). Despite the technology eradicating dangerous driving habits, four in ten (41%) people surveyed believe car insurance premiums will rise if the cars become a regular occurrence in the UK.
In light of these concerns, the government is currently completing a consultation which is looking at modernising the Highway Code and bringing it in line with modern technology and driving habits. The rule Brits think most needs updating is the requirement for drivers to always have both hands on the steering wheel (42%), as automatic parking technology becomes increasingly popular. Plus, with sat-nav technology now commonplace in cars, rules around distractions such as reading maps or playing loud music while driving (33%) are also in dire need of an update.
Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch.com said: “The unwritten rules of the road are all part of the polite British driving experience but could be a huge blind spot for autonomous vehicles. Flashing your lights to let someone out of a junction may seem obvious, but these courteous gestures can vary from situation to situation and add the human touch to motoring.
“The Highway Code was created to promote safer driving, but over the years we have developed our own human driving code. It is clear that many drivers don’t expect driverless cars to understand our driving habits, which could, certainly to begin with, make it difficult for humans and robots to drive side by side.
“For British drivers to feel safe on the roads, they need to be confident about how a driverless car will react in any given situation. Clarifying the rules in the Highway Code is an important step towards this.”
Top five courteous habits driverless cars could misunderstand
- Flashing your headlights – meaning thank you, you’re welcome or go ahead (51%)
- Moving aside for emergency services (35%)
- Letting other drivers out of side streets in busy traffic (32%)
- Being considerate to pedestrians on the pavement (28%)
- Using the horn to alert a fellow driver to a situation up ahead (26%)
Top five annoying habits driverless cars could eradicate
- Tailgating (59%)
- Cutting up other drivers (42%)
- Not indicating before making a turn or changing lanes (41%)
- Speeding (38%)
- Queue jumping (20%)