Third of motorists see self-driving cars on roads in 10 years

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More than half of those interested in owning a self-drive car say they will spend the commuting time on their phones, reading or watching television, it has emerged.

More than a third (36%) of motorists believe that self-driving cars will be on Irish roads in 10 years or less, according to research from the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

It also reveals that more than a quarter (26%) have a keen interest in owning a self-driving car.

More than 40% of those interested in owning a self-driving car believe they will lead to fewer road deaths and injuries but more than a third (39%) said they would not trust them.

The study was presented at the RSA’s annual international conference in Dublin Castle yesterday.

It found that over three-quarters of adults are aware of the concept of autonomous cars.

RSA chairwoman Liz O’Donnell.
RSA chairwoman Liz O’Donnell.

RSA chairwoman Liz O’Donnell said connected and automated vehicle technologies were clocking up significant test miles across the world.

Ms O’Donnell said self-driving cars had the potential to make a positive impact on road safety but care had to be taken during the transition period.

The transition period to self-driving vehicles needs to be carefully planned and managed in this country as this is likely to be the most challenging part of adopting this technology in Ireland, she said.

Ms O’Donnell said it was critical that Ireland had the right national regulatory framework in place to ensure the safe roll-out of these self-driving vehicles across the country.

“For example, Irish road traffic laws will need to be updated to adapt to the new and emerging technologies,” she pointed out.

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock was surprised about how soon Irish people thought the driverless cars would arrive on Irish roads.

The country should prepare for the inevitable arrival of autonomous vehicles, she said.

Public awareness of autonomous cars needed to be raised as well as identifying the necessary legislative changes.

The focus should also be on building capability on new roads and investing in technology infrastructure, such as 5G.

“As part of its efforts to save lives on Irish roads, the RSA will continue to work to educate all road users about cutting-edge automotive developments and the impact, for better or for worse, these may have on road safety in the future,”Ms Murdock said.

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