UK insurers warn against go-ahead for self-driving cars on motorways

However, the Association of British Insurers and the independent Thatcham Research institute have warned the use of automated lane keeping systems (ALKS) would be a severe threat to road safety if the systems were legally classed as “automated”, meaning drivers could take their hands off the steering wheel.

While insurers and Thatcham support the introduction of more automation – and believe fully automated cars would be safer than human drivers – they said the current technology was a “quantum leap” away from what was needed.

The automated system would potentially need to return control to a human driver within three seconds to avert high-speed collisions – but insurers’ research found it takes 15 seconds for the driver to be sufficiently engaged to react to avoid a hazard, roughly 500 metres distance on a motorway.