This week the Government have announced that trials of driverless lorries will begin on our motorways at some time next year in a bit to cut congestion and omissions.
These lorries, which accelerate and brake at the same time, will travel in automated convoys of up to 3, being controlled by a driver in the lead vehicle. There will also be a driver in each of the cabs controlling the steering and ready to take control in the event of a problem.
However, according to the AA, these plans could pose a risk to motorists, as the fleet will be the equivalent of half a football pitch long, and are not suitable for the UK’s congested motorways.
Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “We have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries. Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America. A platoon of just three HGVs can obscure road signs from drivers in the outside lanes and potentially make access to entries or exits difficult for other drivers.
On the new motorways, without hard shoulders, lay-bys are every 1.5 miles. A driver in trouble may encounter difficulties trying to get into a lay-by if it is blocked by a platoon of trucks going past.”
Paul Maynard, the transport minister, said: “We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives. “Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion. First we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads, and that’s why we are investing in these trials.”
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “Streams of close-running HGVs could provide financial savings on long-distance journeys, but on our heavily congested motorways – with stop-start traffic and vehicles jostling for position – the benefits are less certain.”