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New research suggests that the majority of motorists want to retain the right to drive despite the fact that driverless cars are coming. 

IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists, conducted an independent survey of 1,000 British motorists and a separate poll among its 92,000 members.

Those 65% of motorists believe that a human being should always be in control of the vehicle with 53% saying that the focus should be on making drivers safer – not just cars.

Members of IAM RoadSmart welcome the hi-tech advances which are improving vehicle safety but want to maintain their control of a car even though autonomous technology will be able to do it for them.

Sarah Sillars OBE, chief executive of IAM RoadSmart, said: “Technological advances that make driving and riding safer for all road users have to be embraced whole-heartedly, but British motorists and our members, do want the right to drive.

“Intelligent cars will deliver a step change in road safety by targeting the human errors we make from time-to-time. At IAM RoadSmart we believe a well-trained driver and an ever-vigilant car is a win-win scenario for the future.

“The government is due to consult this summer on how the UK can lead the development of autonomous vehicles; we are ready, willing and able to participate fully in this discussion.  One could see a time when motorists might be restricted to driving on designated roads and possibly just for pleasure rather than for work or getting from A to B.”

Sillars added: “The majority of our members feel that improving driver skills is essential. Nowhere is this truer than in helping drivers to review their skills in line with new technology.

“We want to continue to be the best and most recognised provider of training and advice to drivers and riders, a sustainable charity and still be central to all road safety policy making.”

The survey results are as follows:

  • 65% thought that a human being should always be in charge of a vehicle.
  • 20% thought that driverless cars “were a good idea”.
  • 34% thought that driverless cars “were a bad idea”.
  • 22% thought that driverless cars “would be the norm on UK roads”.
  • 52% thought that driverless cars “would never be the norm on UK roads”.
  • 16% thought that driverless cars “are an exciting prospect”.

When told that 95% of accidents were down to “human error” and that there was “a strong case for taking driver control out of the equation”:

  • 24% agreed with the proposition.
  • 15% disagreed with the proposition.
  • 60% said, “wait and see”.

When asked whether they would “consider using a driverless car”:

  • 32% said yes they would.
  • 38% said no they would not.
  • 29% said that they were unsure.

In the poll conducted among IAM RoadSmart members:

  • 87% thought that once driverless cars are readily available driving should NOT be banned by law.
  • 92% would welcome automated systems that stopped tailgating.